James 4:8: "Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded".
What is the key to living? The above verse gives us the answer. I find that many people desire for me to pray for them when they are going through life difficulties, and often the most desperate man will cry out to God when life begins to pinch him a bit. Perhaps in these hard financial times you are one who has tipped your hat towards God with the hopes that maybe he would lend you a break. We want him there to bail us out, to spread his safety net beneath us when we fall down.
But in order for God to come near to us, we must come near to him. This makes good sense. After all, it wasn't God who moved away from man. All throughout history we have the record of God and his relentless pursuit of man since he first turned away from God in the garden.
When Adam and Eve hid themselves in the garden, because they disobeyed God's commands, they were sought out and found by God, who fixed their dilemmas by clothing them and promising a coming Savior who would redeem them from their sins. When the nation of Israel continually turned from God, God would send a prophet to call them back into worship with Him. In fact, we are told that God has come to you and I in these final days through his Son Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:2).
God has been pursuing man since he was first created, but man has spent that entire time running away from God. We must stop running and turn back towards him. Then, and only then will we be able to draw back to God. It was man who moved away, when will we move back?
How do we come near to God?
Well, it certainly isn't by our attempts to force God to accept us for who we are. People are always trying that. We rationalize our sins, claim we are "born that way", and try to redefine what God's clear standards are for life. But this verse tells us that we are to "wash our hands" and "purify our hearts". This means that we must come clean about the sin that exists in each one of us and turn to worship the true God of the Bible. We are filled with all kinds of wicked sin, and it must be done away with.
Our hands must be washed of all the lying, stealing, sexual perversion and filth that is on our hearts. When we confess our sins, we find that God draws near to us. 1 John 1:9 explains this very clearly, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness". Would you like to be drawn closer to God? Would you desire a relationship with him? God draws near to us, when we draw near to him.
Rev. Nathan Dick is pastor of Panton Community Baptist Church. He lives in Addison County with his wife Stephanie and three children. He is a graduate of Calvary Bible College in Kansas City, Mo., where he majored in pastoral studies and advanced biblical studies. He and Stephanie serve with Village Missions, a Christian ministry that places full-time pastors in rural churches.