He Has Hidden His Face
Behold, the Lord's hand is not so short
That it cannot save;
Nor is His ear so dull
That it cannot hear.
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,
And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.
~ Isaiah 59:1-2
The world at large is separated from God. It does seem confusing, when you realize how many religious people there are in the world, but also how bad things are out there. Things are pretty bad. Sex trafficking is on the rise; internet pornography is becoming a global phenomenon. In the church, we think that as long as we are not unfaithful to our spouse or actively harming others, we are in a good spot with God. Actually, many are unfaithful to their spouse and still think they are in a good spot with God. Our mindset is that there is grace through Christ that covers the sins we willfully commit.
This is a distorted perspective, and it has resulted in a watered-down Christianity that is not very distinct from our culture.
Isaiah spoke the words of God to his people, who found themselves separated from him over and over. They presumed his blessings despite their disobedience. He is a holy God, and cannot have communion with sin. The consequences, for them, were a loss of his blessings and defeat at the hands of others. It's the same for his people today.
If you envision that Christianity is about having a safety net after you die, you can rationalize sin. If Jesus has paid for our sins, what does it matter if we obey or not? We all make mistakes, after all. So we depend on the safety net and don't worry too much about the present. We do the things that make us happy, but try to direct them in a positive and moral way, whenever possible. We go to church, we tithe, we join a small group. We may sit on a church board or assist with the childcare during morning services. Everything seems fine, but there is a problem. We don't actually know Christ. Knowing him and obeying him are the same thing. We are separated from him.
God doesn't want to hide his face from us, but he is holy. He cannot bless what is in defiant contradiction to who he is. If things are going wrong in your life, one reason might be the choices you've made. There is a simple solution—turn from them. If we know him, we walk the path he walked. We hear his words and obey. We may fail, but when we do, we turn from it and seek his face. When we do, we find that he is not far from us.
The grace that covers our sins is offered to those who turn from their sins and live out his values. Justifying any kind of intentional, unrepentant sin means we are not following him. Christianity is not a safety net irrespective of how we've lived our lives; his blessings, now and on that coming day, are for those who turn from their sins and seek him. (Matt 7:23; 1 Cor 3:13; 4:5; Romans 2:3-8; Rev 16:15)
God is reaching for you. His arm is not too short. Live the life he will be proud of, on the day you stand with him. Experience his blessings and fulfillment now, as you wait for that day.
Lord, forgive me for the times I have turned away from you. Whatever is in my life that is separating me from you, I want to give it up and draw near to you. Help me to live differently than the world around me and to be a light in the darkness. Amen.
~ Michael Cranford has a heart for equipping others to follow Christ in today's world. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from the University of California at Irvine, a Master of Divinity from Talbot School of Theology, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Religion and Social Ethics from the University of Southern California. Visit his website at OneSteadfast.com and follow him on Twitter at @OneSteadfast and Facebook.