Propinquity

On one hand it’s good to know how to keep unwanted people and things and influences out.

On the other hand, if we never get close to God, and never let God get close to us, how will we know how to let the right people in?

“Even if you feel alone, God is with you.”

The main idea of the above statement is expressed brilliantly by Jesus when He says “lo, I am with you alway” (Matthew 28:20). He spoke this to the eleven disciples just before He ascended into Heaven after He rose from the dead. For this statement to take root in your heart and for it to grow and fructify, we obviously need to believe that He’s still alive. “With you alway…” That includes now. Two-thousand plus years after He spoke those words. Simple logic dictates that someone can’t be in two places at once. And there is simplicity in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 11:3). But what I’m talking about here necessarily begins with the belief in, not only Jesus’ existence, but also His resurrection. Because if He was (existent) and if He is (still existent), then there’s the possibility that His outrageously audacious statement “Lo, I am with you alway” could be true (!).

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

So, propinquity is essentially a synonym of proximity. Proximity lacks the essential human or relational quality that propinquity connotes though. Paul, speaking to the Athenians said “though He be not far from every one of us.” (Acts 17:27)

When Jesus went to Heaven and gave us the Holy Spirit, it was like we got a continual inward/outward window on God’s presence. The Holy Spirit is the one who transmits the atmosphere of Heaven onto this world and into our lives. He’s how we are able to sense Jesus near us all the time. “[Our] body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in [us].” (1 Corinthians 6:19) Jesus is here by His Spirit.

Feeling God’s presence and feeling for God’s presence in whatever we do and wherever we go is a lifelong endeavor. Something that always needs maintenance and cultivation and constant attention. It’s an act of the will: “I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” (Psalm 16:8) Says David.

Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God is an exceptional work of seventeenth century spiritual writing. In it, he describes the unhurried and thoughtful pace at which to live one’s life in the continual presence of God. As a young man, prior to taking his ascetic vow as a Carmelite monk, he saw a tree in winter, bereft of leaves. As he looked at the tree, the branches stark against the winter sky, he received, quite unceremoniously, an intimation of God that stayed with him for the rest of his life. He lived out his years working in the monastery kitchen. While there, he delighted in doing the most mundane and trivial acts to the glory of God. And conversing with Him on the smallest, seemingly insignificant matters. Jesus said that “he (and she) that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.” (Luke 16:10) With reference to that and to Brother Lawrence’s way of life, I would say that we should not consider anything—any thought, any feeling, any experience—too trivial to share with God. He’s in this for the long haul, as are we. We can’t pick and choose the minutae of our life, so share it all with God. Let Him sift through it. Obviously this is a tall order, but Proverbs (3:6) says to “acknowledge Him” in all our ways.

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.” (Colossians 3:17)

Psalm 139 is a great perspective on the life lived through the lens of God’s constant, eternal presence.

And the more we walk with God, the more we will fulfill Jesus’ prayer from John 17 (verse 21): “That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me.”

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