A Theology of Nearness

Luke 22:27  …but I am among you as one who serves…

In the year, 1648, Rembrandt was in the middle of creating some of his most famous paintings. Also in that year there was a woman named, (Jeanne-Marie) Madam Guyon who was considered a Catholic that was open to the supernatural and labeled a mystic in those days.

She was a leader in the Quietist movement as it was labeled which basically sought deep contemplation as a way to connect with God over verbal prayers. She called for intellectual stillness as opposed to frenzied spiritual activity. This was about a hundred years after the time of Martin Luther and she was imprisoned a few times by the church for her beliefs.

She was widowed at a very young age and gives us some incredible insight in her many writings. There are some things she wrote about that are far out for sure but I have found some insight from her related to the nearness of God during dark times.

Ifyou’ve ever gone to church around Christmas you’ve probably heard some songs that talk about the principle of Jesus as Emmanuel (God with us). But I have found some incredible insight to this idea and reality of God with us through a verse found in Luke 22:27  “…but I am among you as one who serves.”

In those few words, we see a glimpse into the “personhood” “identity” of Jesus. The wholeness and focus of Jesus while here on this earth is something each of us long for. To know who you are and what you are to be doing with the days that are yours is no insignificant thing.

Wholeness emerging from deep within you is slowed down drastically when you waste days and years flirting with various versions of you that are not you at all. Like trying to appear smart, strong, rich, cool, sexy or whatever only reveals that you are trying on false versions of yourself that in the end will never last and don’t fit.

Madam Guyon says, “There is but one way God reveals His design for your life…allowing the soul into the crucible of the most severe trials…the soul is hit with holy despair…despair so intense that every support in the individual is taken away and they are forced into an unconditional abandonment into God’s hands.”

She went on to say that few people ever know exactly what you really are. “Yet the more you despair of self, the more you are actually trusting God.” But the one in this place doesn’t really recognize that they are learning to trust God more and more because certainty has been removed from a faith based on what is seen and enters into a space where there is but FAITH IN GOD ALONE. “This only comes when you are stripped of every support.”

Honestly this doesn’t play well in happy church where mindless one liners are used to numb the pain of being human as someone tries to remove uncertainty and mystery from the equation of what it means to have faith in God.

To me, that is when you come to know God is near. Jesus through his suffering and his message to the disciples in that little line is saying I’m at the table of suffering ministering to you.

The work and effort you are putting in to uncovering your identity and be who you are supposed to be will be painful but worth it. Jesus modeled for us that there is a truthful and transformative and authentic version of yourself that is powerful and humble. Discovering this and allowing it to emerge out of you will take time, lots of time probably until it suddenly doesn’t.

Profound loneliness can descend upon you and may be worsened by trying to be someone you are not.  A famous philosopher once said to know God you have to know yourself because the fingerprints of God are all over the best version of who you are.

  1. God is not just present everywhere – He is present right there with you now.
  2. Your journey/story is the unfolding of more and more information about God’s nearness to you and those close to you even if it is through challenge and suffering.
  3. Contentment is what you’re seeking – the place where you finally go all in on trusting God.

“The ultimate act of worship is when the believer has abandoned their soul to God.” Madam Guyon

Cultivate this new theology of NEARNESS and talk with Him a little more than you did yesterday. Notice the sensation that He is near!