Thursday, September 29, 2016

We have a Savior who is Closer than Close

I've pretty much "grown up" as a Christian-in that I grew up in a Christian home and knew about God and what His Son did for me from the start. This is not something I am complaining about: what a great blessing and one I am trying to endow to my children now. I have also pretty much always been a "Good Girl" and have never really had a desire to be anything else. But even mild mannered, tame people who aren't even necessarily tempted to be "bad" realize in a real hurry that it's hard work doing good works and you can always be better. Call it perfectionism, Type A personality or whatever, but I don't think I'm alone in "hustling" in the Christian life. In serving more, being a part of more ministries and on top of that doing these things with the right intentions and attitudes. And then there's the whole list of sins and downfalls I can't seem to shake or move past, even though I really really want to. Being a "good" Christian is hard work and I'm frankly sort of exhausted. 

I know of grace and God's rest for me and I know I can receive those things by being close to Him. Then the question is, how do I get close to Him? I know the right steps to achieve closer proximity (or at least the way we are usually to do so)- get up early, read your bible, pray, serve others. I want to do those things, I know they have merit and are key parts of the Christian walk; but I also am kind of horrible at being inconsistent in those things and getting bogged down in the rest of life. And so I start to feel a little hopeless, like if I can't hold up my part of this deal than why should God want to be close to me and how well I ever "get it right" enough to feel close to Him? 

During a time of a lot of internal wrestling over this conundrum came a book that tackles just these questions and more. In Closer than Close: Awakening to the freedom of your union in Christ  Dave Hickman does a wonderful job of verbalizing all the doubts and fears I've secretly felt and bringing to light the true meaning of how close God wants to be to me and how it is possible. Jesus died on the cross to cleanse my sins so the gap could be crossed and I could be truly united with Him- really, Closer than Close. 

Dave starts by "introducing" himself and I instantly knew he was a voice I could trust on this journey because I could so relate with his early christian experience growing up and how tough it was to fully commit and live a mature christian life as a kid and young adult. He talks of seasons of being fully on fire for God and then being slowly pulled away by "teenage life". Of wanting so badly to give up sins and grow and yet finding yourself doing that very thing, over and over. Dave writes, "Although I was learning more about Jesus and wanted desperately to please and obey him, I became trapped in an endless cycle of sin- confession- sin- confession- sin- confession.'' And pretty soon all you feel is guilt and despair. I could very much empathize with all of this, but also when he writes, "I continued to fight for my relationship with Jesus. How could I not? How could I give up on the one relationship that is suppose to save me?"  Yes, how could I ever give up on that?

Dave goes on to share how after his first son is born and he is completely overcome with love for this child, his child, he just wants to be as close to him as possible. It's then he realizes, God reveals to him that this is who God feels about him, about his children. He wants to be closer than close, He wants to be One. He continues to look at the "Us" of God revealed thru scripture- how there is one God with distinct and different personalities or divinities within. Dave explains how the Trinity is "eternally present with one another, for another, and in one another." And how God created man as another picture of that relationship and form. Of course we know sin came in and tore that idea apart but then Christ came along to redeem and restore that beautiful concept. 

The rest of the book focuses on how to actually life like we have Christ living in and through us. How to grasp our personal identity as the Most Loved. I loved the example Dave uses of how when Jesus first steps onto the sign of public ministry with his baptism God could have understandably encouraged him with affirmation of his divinity or divine calling but instead God says, "This is my Son who I love and in whom I am pleased." This was first and foremost who Jesus was- God's most loved Son and we are at our core his most loved children. In the next chapter, Dave explores the spiritual disciplines of living closer than close to Jesus and shares how it is in some ways like living married life. As you become one with your spouse and daily draw closer to them, so with Christ, you are a new thing and daily dig deeper into what the reality of this union really is. Lastly, Dave dives into what identity and reality in Christ looks like when applied to how we approach the church and the great commission. This book is a very insightful and yet encouraging book on Christian growth, in the truest sense.

 I received this book in exchange for my honest review from Tyndale Publishers.

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