What if God seems distant?

Read:2 Peter 1:12-21

Reflect: A few years ago, I had a conversation with a young man in a corner café. As the conversation unfolded, he expressed to me how he had lost interest in church life and no longer attended worship services. He explained that his pastor’s sermons sounded like a collection of rote recitations of biblical talking points and churchy phrases. “Why should I bother listening?” he lamented “When he begins a sentence – I already know how it will end.” Having nearly six decades experience listening to sermons myself, I empathized with his point.  He had lost interest and become bored with the basics of Christian teaching. It was disheartening to see that this jaded and cynical attitude had caused this young man in his early twenties to turn his back on his solid Christian upbringing.

In 2 Peter 1:12-15, Peter charges the believers of his day to stand firm in the fundamentals of the Gospel. He urges them to know and review the basics of Christian life while learning more advanced skills and committing it all to practice. We must be established in belief and basic knowledge of the Truth so as not to be swayed by every wind of doctrine, especially the “fashionable truth” driven by the progressive thinking of the day. Peter is earnest and clear in his uncomplicated message. His fervent desire was they should remember the doctrine he delivered and the deeply personal witness he shared.  

In verses 16-18, Peter assures believers that the Gospel is not a fable or ideas about God devised by man. Afterall, Peter not only bore witness to but shared in the experience of the ministry and the completed gospel mission of Jesus.  Peter witnessed firsthand the Transfiguration of Christ. He was an eyewitness to the honor, glory and divine splendor bestowed on Jesus by God the Father! God’s voice from Heaven was heard and understood by Peter.  It is hard to compare the depth of our own life experiences in spiritual development to the dynamic first-hand eyewitness experiences of Peter. His deep roots in Christ were sure to sustain him without wavering or boredom as he endeavored to remind believers of the need to remain rooted in the basics of Christian life. However, as in the case of Peter, God can open the ears and understanding of His people to receive and believe the Truth to help them know and follow Jesus.

Apply: In our modern day, high speed information culture with all of its thrills, frills and distractions, do you find yourself drifting toward a lack of interest/boredom for the basics of Christian life?  I recently had an accountability partner ask me how I handle “dry spells” in my devotional and prayer life – times when God seems distant or unavailable. Whether bored with basics, or distanced from God, we can be left with the feeling of separation from meaningful development in our Christian journey. In times of such emptiness, reflection and meditation doesn’t necessarily provide the jump start to get us back on track to a meaningful experience of knowing and following Jesus. In times of emptiness, read and drink in John 17: 20-26. In these verses Jesus prays for future believers like you and me! He prays for the faithful testimonies and teaching of the basics of the Gospel, carried through the ages, to be hope and encouragement that will bond us together and provide direction for our Christian life.

Also, a time of distance or emptiness need not be a time of inaction. As you abide, waiting for that jump start, do something as basic as looking at your own hands. Respond to God’s call on your spirit by asking, what can I do (physically) with my hands to bring blessing or encouragement to someone? Run an errand for an elderly neighbor? Write a card of encouragement to someone? Volunteer to help at church?  Pray for guidance and be thankful to God for the opportunity to serve with your hands as you wait on His voice to speak direction to you again in a fresh way, since you now have fresh ears.

Authored by Fred Stehman

Fred  is a Charter Member of GCC and serves as Lay Delegate to the Evangelical Congregational National Conference as well as being a member of the GCC Ministry Council. Fred is active in GCC Men's Ministry and actively supports SportXchange Int'l Ministries