Why does it seem that God is so distant if he is to be omnipresent?
Not a bad question, right? As one preacher describes it, if “God is close to anywhere and next to everywhere,” then why does he seem to be distant at times?
A. W. Tozer was a preacher known for his devotion to God. He said, “Remoteness means dissimilarity.” In other words, the distance we feel from God is not about God removing Himself from us as it is our estrangement from Him. You are an image bearer of God, so the more your “image-bearing” resembles God, the closer you sense God is to you.
The word for our remoteness from God is alienation. You’re familiar with the use of this word when politicians speak of illegal aliens. That describes people who are not in proper relationship with the authorities of the country. They are in the country. They live and maybe even work, but they are illegal aliens. They have no provincial right to the country.
So as aliens in this world, man has devised his own ways to deal with this predicament. First, many choose to ignore the great gulf between them and God. Tozer said, “This accounts for our busy activities; it accounts for practically all the entertainment in the world. People invent every sort of entertainment because they can’t live with themselves knowing they’re alienated from God.”
Second, others choose to invent their own ways to find God. There are people who teach in order to find God you must observe certain religious practices. You must worship this way and eat these foods. You must say these words in a prayer and follow what faithful men in our religion have done before. There are people who teach in order to find God you must improve yourself. Become more intellectual. Or like many have said to me, “I want to become more spiritual.” I’m sorry, that is not the way you find God.
So how can God be as close as the mention of His name? How can man find God? What is the way? There are two ways you can reconcile with someone else. You can compromise, but God couldn’t compromise. To compromise would mean God would put up with half of mankind’s sin and mankind give up half of his, but that would taint the holiness of God and how can any man measure half of an infinite injustice!
God didn’t compromise. He offers reconciliation because He came all the way. This is why the man of God declares to Asa, “Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you” (2 Chronicles 15:2).
The problem with distance is not God; it’s you. Your proximity to God is directly related to your likeness of Him. “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).