Jars of Clay, one of my favorite bands, has written and recorded a song they simply called ‘Closer.’ Part of the song goes like this:

I don’t understand why we can’t get close enough
I want your kite strings tangled in my trees all wrapped up
I don’t understand why we can’t get close enough
I’ll be the comets that are fallin’ from the sky you light up…light up

I was thinking about this song yesterday while the preacher was preaching from Ephesians 1:3-14:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

You undoubtedly noticed what I noticed about this dense yet free-flowing paragraph. There are a lot of prepositions. I mean, there are a lot of them. Of distant galaxiescourse it is easy to lace your sentence with so many prepositions when the sentence is over 200 words long. Two-hundred words is a scary sick amount of words for a paragraph, let alone a sentence. But I digress. Paul was Paul and Paul can write however he wants to write. I’m just here to read it and be amazed and/or changed.

I confess that it is easy to feel alone and I further confess to exacerbating that feeling by desiring to be alone. I offer no excuses or apologies for being created so. There are times when I so desire company that I will go out of my way to find a conversation on Facebook. *Smile.* There are other times, prevailing times, when I will go into my bedroom, lock the door, close the drapes, hide under the blankets, turn out the lights, and wish the world and all her people away. But as most preachers do, even when we are not particularly paying attention, the one yesterday was talking about this community we belong to–this fellowship of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Somehow or other we are included in that mix; I don’t know why or particularly understand the mystery. But we are, God has decreed and made it so. David Crowder describes the mystery thusly in his appropriately titled The Nearness :

Darkest night brought redemption
Inner sense, divine embrace
In the light of all creation
Heaven and earth start to twist
And the nearness of there
Feels more near to here

Somehow or other, and who knows what it means entirely, God has embraced us in our condition. He has and does love us in a way incomprehensible to our minds. Feel it in our hearts we may, but in the mind the love of God shown in Christ is beyond comprehension. I defy anyone to attempt to quantify what God has done for us or the manner in which he has loved us. It cannot be explained, yet we know it’s true. Love, when all else fails, when shadows falls, when suffering encroaches, when all that we have known and embraced is scattered…love–that love, in Christ–remains. If you can make sense of that, you should patent it and sell it or write a book or conduct a seminar. (And drop me a line.)

When reading a sentence that is two-hundred words long, it is not hard to miss the forest for all the trees. When reading Ephesians 1:3-14 it is not hard to miss the prepositions for all the theology. Paul uses big words like ‘predestined’ (a word that some have built theological fortresses upon), and mystery, and redemption. The temptation I think is to get caught up in those mountains and miss out on the more beautiful thing that Paul is telling his readers and simply put, it is this: everything Paul talks about in Ephesians 1:3-14 is true, or takes place, or is possible, because of Jesus. It is the nearness of Jesus, the ‘in Him’, that makes possible predestination, redemption, adoption, spiritual blessings, Holy Spirit promises, and inheritances and a host of other things found in this two-hundred word forest.

The most important part of Ephesians here, then, is found in the simple preposition ‘in’ and the Person it is attached to, namely, Jesus. In Him anything is possible and in particular our redemption. In Him is the nearness, the close enough, the love, and the company I desire and dread. In Jesus.

Dear God. I get chills just thinking about it to be honest with you. It is frightening to think I am positioned closer to God than I am my own skin. It is rather terrifying to imagine that when I am surrounded by death, when I am corrupted by sin, when I am overwhelmed by a flood, when the deep is swirling around my head and my heart has been banished to terror that it is all happening in Him. It is sometimes hard to imagine that all of our disagreements as Christians and all our hatred for those created in God’s image and all our unhappiness and suffering and shame and sin and arguments and theological terror takes place in Him. Have you ever thought about that? You know, that when you hate your brother because of a theological disparity you are hating him in Him?

How can hate and love reside inside the same person who is in Christ?

When we treat our brother or sister with contempt we do so in Him. When we fail to forgive we do so In Him. When we hate to love and love to hate we do in Him. When we exclude one made in the image of Christ we do so In Him. When we decide who is and is not in Him we do so In Him. Do you realize that according to the Gospel we are so located in Christ that everything we do, every breathe, every step, every thought, every beat of our heart is done In Him? Have you ever thought about that? Have you ever given thought to how your every action and decision as a person in Christ is done In Him? Do you realize that if you are In Him it is impossible to not be In Him and it is even more impossible to do anything apart from Him or outside of him? Have you ever thought about how overwhelming His presence is? Have you ever wondered when God seems so far away how he can be when we are In Him?

Have you ever considered how vital is this positional theology?

So why do we feel so alone at times? Why do we feel so devoid of his presence? Why do we feel so empty and desperate? Why do we feel so afraid and terrified? We do we feel so insecure? If we are so close to God in Him why does he sometimes feel nowhere near? If we are so close to God in Him how can we get closer?

This is not a piece that purports to provide an answer as much as it is a piece to provoke a painful and prolonged look at our position as disciples. We are not just followers, we are also parasites living on and off our host, The Host. Everything happens in Him and nothing happens apart from Him. If we are chosen, it is in Him. If we are blessed it is in Him. If we are included, it is in Him. If we are sealed with the Spirit, it is In him. If we are redeemed, it is in Him that it happens. If we are adopted, it is In Him. If we have hope, it is so in Him. And so, too, if we suffer, it is In Him. And I don’t believe He would have it any other way.

We are not so alone as we think and we need not climb any higher in order to be nearer our God to Thee. We are as near as we can be if we are found in Him. And In Him we are found indeed.

There’s more to say about this, but I cannot say it now. I need more time to remember, more time to forget, more time to take note of my surroundings I need some time to reorient myself to my position and stop dwelling so much on my condition. I’m in my house right now. I know where the stairs are, and where the sink is. I’m familiar with the bathroom and the bedroom. I know where the front door is and the back door. I’m thoroughly comfortable and familiar with my surroundings. I can come and go as I please. I can rest in safety.

I need to be that way with Jesus where, and in whom, I am. I am near to God because He came near to me and snatched me up and placed me, firmly, in Him.

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This entry was posted on Monday, July 19th, 2010 at 8:17 pm and is filed under Christian Living, Church and Society, grace. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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