Evangelical believers are famous for seeking to share our faith in Jesus by leading with the message that “our sins have separated us from God.” There are certainly some passages in the Bible that, as isolated verses, make such a case from a certain angle.
The ironic problem is that most believers, after coming to faith and connecting with God more personally, begin to see very clearly how God was working in their lives before they came to “saving” faith.
Indeed, the fact that God was always “nearby us” and exercising His grace toward us are keys to properly understanding our life story and bringing healing to our broken hearts.
Immanuel has always been nearby us – oftentimes offering us help in ways we didn’t necessarily perceive and sometimes intervening to protect and preserve us, As Paul informed the philosophers of Athens – “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring,'”(Acts 17:27-28).
Paul’s first message to them didn’t emphasize their separation from God, but rather His presence all about them! Maybe more of us need to consider taking this angle in our approach?
Was Psalm 139 that reveals “the unavoidable God” only true of king David, or is it true for everyone born into this world? “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.” (Psalm 139:13-15)
Apparently there is something more original about us than sin! I call it original design. Human beings fall short of the glory of God, but we are yet “image bearers.” In scripture, God’s great salvation involves the renewal of the original creation, not its eradication….just peruse the end of Romans 8 for confirmation.
I believe that the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and all He accomplished in His life, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension and the pouring out the gift of the Holy Spirit upon the earth shifted the entire cosmos. The good news is even better and more powerful than many of us have conceived. “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” John 1:9
In no way do I want to minimize the essentiality of individuals choosing to believe in and follow Jesus to receive God’s eternal life into our souls.
However, I do want to make sure that we see things about God’s nature, goodness, kindness and common grace as they really are and be careful about sending people a message about a kind or degree of separation from their Creator that is simply not the case.