I had a conversation recently with someone who, although was not a Christian, did say that he was still close to Jesus. However, unlike other relationships we have with people, our relationship with Jesus is much more black and white than it may seem.
I went on to explain that it isn’t about how “close” you feel you are to Jesus. A sense of feeling near to Jesus is a good thing, but it is far from the thing. And while all of us at different times feel close or far from Him, there is one thing that ultimately determines not only our relationship to Jesus, but how close we actually are to him.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Explicitly and repeatedly throughout the Gospels in the New Testament, Jesus not only claimed to be God, but also the only way to salvation. It isn’t about your good works (Ephesians 2:8-9) or even your lack of bad works, it’s all about Jesus.
This means that in order for us to truly be close to Jesus, we have to trust Jesus is who he says he is. As C.S. Lewis famously wrote, Jesus is either “Lunatic, liar, or Lord.” If he was a lunatic and a liar, he would not be worth being “close” to. If I had a friend who I knew was lying to me about who he really was, I would not and could not really feel that close to him.
It isn’t about feeling close to Jesus, it’s about knowing him.
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
It is only when we know Jesus that we can actually be, and not just “feel,” close to him. We must accept Jesus at his word that he is God, and we do that because only God can raise himself from the dead. It isn’t just about hearing about Jesus, thinking about Jesus, or even liking many of Jesus’ teachings. If we do not take the next step to trust in Jesus, we cannot fully know him.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Do not be fooled, being close to Jesus is many times not about how close we may feel. Rather, it is when we love and obey him, even in the times he seems to be nowhere in sight, that show what we truly think and believe about him.
It’s not about feeling close to Jesus, it’s about having a relationship with him. Regardless of how you may feel in the moment, knowing and believing that Jesus is who he says he is what is important.
You may not always feel close to Jesus, but you can always know that your eternal salvation is secure by trusting in his free gift of salvation. Don’t be led by your emotions, be led by Jesus, and by doing so you will always be close to him.