Most people think that God is in heaven, which is out in space someplace, or in any case up above us somehow. Certainly, Bible passages talk about God or the Father coming down from heaven, and Jesus came from and returned to heaven., The Holy spirit comes from there. For a long time I thought the same thing. And, this is a problem with witnessing because unsaved people operate on the out of sight, out of mind principal. People tend to ignore, or at least not take seriously, someone or something that is far away from them. Therefore they act differently than they do when someone is near to them.
The old expression “when the cat’s away the mice will play”. fits the mentality of most people. Since God is in heaven, wherever that is, they go about there business unmindful of Him. Most do believe that God does exist “some where over the rainbow”, as the song says. And, since He’s not right here with them they can so as they please until He get back. This is one reason for the high level of sin in the world. I’m not getting into that discussion here because it’s another topic for another week. For now, the point is that they’re both right and wrong.
Native Americans believe The Great Spirit, God, is in everything in the world. Their theology on this is quite detailed. The Bible tells us that God made everything and He maintains everything ( John 1:1-3). But He isn’t in everything. We know that things can be controlled from a distance. A lot of people have drones that they can fly by radio control. The US military has drones that can be controlled from half way around the world. Drone pilots in California or another state can fly drones in Asia or anywhere in the world by instantly relaying the pilot’s radio commands via satellite. And, companies have banks of security cameras that watch over their businesses or stores from a remote location. Even door bells have cameras now.
Thieves don’t worry too much about security cameras, because they will be long gone before the police arrive. Porch pirates are often caught when the police identify them from security tapes or digital files. Often security video is broadcast on TV and a viewer or viewers identify the culprit and call police. All this stacks remoteness upon remoteness. Viewers are remote from TV stations which are remote from business or home owners who are often remote from the premises when the crime occurs. So, most people just go on doing what they want to do because God isn’t right there with them, or so they think.
Jesus told the Pharisees, “The kingdom of God comes not with observation: neither shall they say, lo here or lo there: for behold, the kingdom of God is within you” ( Luke 17:21; see Matthew 23:26 ). But God isn’t within everyone. He is only within His own, meaning Christians. In His prayer in the Garden Jesus talked about He being in Christians and they being in Him. Jesus explained the kingdom of God as “like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened” ( Luke 13:18-21).
Further, Jesus said that while He was physically in the world He was the light of the world, but after His return to heaven His followers are the light of the world because He is in them and they in Him. Accordingly, His light shines out through them to the world as what I call a transcendental incandescence. It’s not a physical glow around Christians, but others can sense Jesus within them. And, Jesus changes the whole person like the leaven changes the quality of all the flour when a loaf of bread is baked. The dough doesn’t rise hear a little and thee a little while the rest of the loaf stays flat. The whole loaf rises evenly. Jesus, and thus the kingdom of God, is within the whole being of Christians.
An immediacy exists with our relationship to our Creator. He and His kingdom exist here on earth through Christians. He knows everything and ultimately controls everything. He allows some things to happen for His own reasons. So, those who are unmindful of Him are making the biggest mistake of their lives without knowing it. He is loyal to His own and nothing can separate His people from Him. And, all things will work out for the good for those who love Him.
The unsaved are never with Him. If someone rejects Him He respects their decision and leaves them to their own devices. They have to cope with life and whatever the world throws at them with no help from God. This includes many people who claim to be Christians but who have never really internalized Him. Being a Christian isn’t like joining a club. It isn’t like sending a dollar two ninety eight to some place in California, and a week later you get a black beanie with ears and an ID card saying you’re an official member of the Mickey Mouse Club. A true Christian is a completely different person in Christ and he or she in Him. Anyone can be a Christian regardless of his or her past. Old things are passed away and all things become new. John wrote that God so loves His greatest creation, people, that whosoever believes in Him shall be saved ( John 3:16 ).
Whosoever includes you if you’re not yet a Christian. God doesn’t care what you’ve done in the past. That’s not important to Him if you accept Christ Jesus as your Savior. Jesus paid the penalty for your sins when He died on the cross in your place, in my place, and for everyone who in the future will accept Him.
So, what you do does matter. Sin separates us form God because He cannot tolerate sin in His presence. You cannot be a Christian and sin at the same time. He is the leaven of your complete existence, mind, body, and soul. Jesus spoke of someone coming to Him as being born again. This is what is symbolized by baptism. Being dunked under water and rising again is dying to your old worldly self and rising again as a new person in Christ.
God does know who will be His at some point, and He gives them nudges in the right direction from time to time. Here is an example from my life. It’s not a really good example but you’ll get the idea. My ex-wife contacted me a number of years ago. She had been married again and had a son and a granddaughter. Now she was divorced, and her son had run off to another state leaving his daughter with her, and the mother was also gone. In corresponding with my ex-wife I also corresponded with her granddaughter. I told her that she would always be my friend, but it was up to her whether or not she would accept me as her friend, which she did. Friendships work only if both parties recognize the relationship.
My ex-wife died of a heart attack before I could move to where she lived. Her granddaughter moved out of state to be with her mother. I never met the girl in person. But I do send her Facebook messages at Christmas and on her birthday. She knows I haven’t forgotten her, and I never will. But that’s the sum of our relationship now for legal reasons. It’s a complicated situation, which is all I’m going to say about it. She knows that if she wants to contact me when she reaches 18 years of age she can, or before then with her mother’s supervision. It’s up to her to continue our friendship.
The relationship of the unsaved with God is something like my relationship with Mary (not her real name). He is there for them whenever they decide to accept Him. He doesn’t intrude much into their lives, and He leaves some people alone entirely. God lives in the spirit world which is timeless. He knows now what will happen in eternity future. Jesus expressed this when He told the Pharisees, “Before Abraham was I AM”. A double meaning exists with the word am. The Jewish leaders recognized the name I AM the one God gave Moses at the burning bush. It also means present tense. In other words, before Abraham was born, Jesus existed in the present when He was talking to the Jews. So, He knows who will and will not accept Him and when they will do so.
If this fits you, you’ve felt His nudging you in His direction at times. Circumstances have kept you safe from harm. Changes in your life that you didn’t want have happened anyway, and the new situation turned out to be better that you thought possible. God knows more about you than you do, and He knows how to get you to Him. So, like Jonah, you will ultimately accept God’s direction in your life, although you may have a whale of a time getting to Him. So, accept Him right now. Just say OK Jesus, I’m yours. What do you want me to do for you in my life? Do that and your whole being will rise to a new level just like all of a loaf of bread rises. You’re not guaranteed the next second much less tomorrow, and once you die it’s too late to change your mind. Now is the time of salvation, so make that decision right now.