“So close, so close and yet so far…”
Thus goes Frankie Valli’s hit song, “My Eyes Adored You”. I think God also sang that song about the Pharisees in Jesus’ days. They seemed to be doing all the right stuff, praying the right words, but their hearts were far away from God. Jesus said about them:
“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’”
The Pharisees’ problem is just as fresh today. One of the greatest dangers of pastoral ministry is to believe that serving God means you’re right with God. Just because you’re leading the worship or preaching sermons doesn’t mean that your heart is right with God. Christianity is not a performance-based religion. It’s a relationship with God.
Jesus quoted from Isaiah the Prophet (Isaiah 29:13). It was not a new problem. It was centuries old. Priests were serving God, offering right sacrifices but hearts were not right with God. God wasn’t pleased. Their worship was “vain”. What does “vain” mean? Useless. Futile. Pointless. Worthless.
This really scares me. I can be so zealous to lead Bible studies, to sing worship songs, to tithe faithfully but totally missing the mark. No wonder Joel said:
“Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”
God is not merely interested in outward actions. He’s looking at your heart. Our actions must flow from inside-out. If our heart is not right with God, Joel says: Return to the Lord your God. I love that. God is compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. He wants you more than anything else in the world. He doesn’t want your words, your money. He wants your heart. Whole-hearted devotion.
Let’s not get caught up with the same issue that the Pharisees had. They focused on the outside rather than the inside. If you’re serving God yet feel so far away spiritually, it’s time to reflect. It’s time to return to Him.
He’s close and not so far away.