Letter from the Vicar

Dear Friends,

In our society there are all sorts of barriers that prevent or hinder access to certain people and places. You can’t draw near to Hollywood actors or professional athletes. They usually have personal bodyguards to keep you at bay. If you try to get too close, you’re likely to get whacked on the head, even arrested!

You can’t draw near to the Queen. I remember taking my family to see Buckingham Palace. One of our children said, “Are we going to go inside and see the Queen.” Their naiveity made me chuckle. “Go and see the Queen? There’s no way she’d let us in!”

There are many places and events where we are barred from entering. You can’t draw near to the World Cup final without a very expensive ticket. You can’t get near the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. You can’t go on stage at the Academy Awards in Hollywood.

And yet what does Hebrews 10v22 say? “…let us draw near to God.”
We can draw near to God. It is remarkable. Countless people and places and events are off-limits to average people like you and me. But God isn’t. We can draw near to the awesome creator and sustainer of the Universe.
What does it mean to draw near to God?

Usually, drawing near to something involves some kind of physical movement. But God is a spirit and he is present everywhere, so you don’t need a plane or a car to draw near to him. You don’t even need legs because no physical movement is required.

Drawing near to God is an invisible act of the soul. It is a spiritual movement of our hearts towards God. ‘Draw near to God’ means cultivate your relationship with God. Seek the closest and warmest relationship with God you can. A relationship with God is like a marriage, because like a marriage it is possible to have close relationship or a distant relationship. God is calling us to draw near, he is urging us to live in a close relationship with him. We draw near to God when we cry out to him for mercy and forgiveness. We draw near to him when we decide to trust him for our forgiveness and daily needs. We draw near to God by running to Him in our times of doubt and trouble. We draw near to God by having times of fellowship with him. We draw near to God when we worship him in private and in public. We draw near to him when we expect him to speak to us through the Bible. We draw near to him whenever we speak to him in prayer and praise.

Sadly, many Christians keep God at arms-length and the result is they miss out on the joy of having a close relationship with God. We should pursue the closest possible relationship with God, not because we have to but because we can. God is good, and being near to him is good. It is such a privilege to be able to draw near.

So how is it possible for sinful people like us to draw near to God?
Hebrews 10:19-21 gives us two reasons: “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God…”

We can enter God’s presence with confidence because of Christ’s sacrifice and his priesthood.

If we are trusting and following Jesus as our personal Lord and Saviour then we can draw near to God because of Jesus’ blood. His sacrifice on the cross paid the price for all of our sin and guilt. This means we can approach God confident that he is not going to punish us. He won’t punish us because he has already punished Jesus in our place.

We can also draw near to God because Christ is our priest. He lives, in God’s presence, and continues to intercede and mediate for us. He continues to defend us before God, speaking in our defence, pointing to his sacrifice on the cross.

So let us draw near to God, not because we have to but because we can.
“…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22)

Revd. Matt Williams
Vicar, St. Paul’s Church
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