Faith General

Your Proximity to Jesus

Whether you realize it or not, you and Jesus have a proximity to each other. For some of us, Jesus has everything to do with our lives. Others of us, Jesus is a religious figurehead with very little to do with everyday life. We could care less if Jesus even exists. For some of us, we don’t have a clue who Jesus is. While still others are hostile to the idea of there even been a God. 

Recently, I was talking with a man who found his life running towards a relationship with Jesus. He was almost giddy! For decades his life was filled with brokenness, pain, and tons of relational heartache. “It’s like the scales were taken off my eyes and for the first time I saw Jesus for who He really is! I can’t get enough of Him!”  Our conversation continued. “I have a friend,” he added, “who has a distant proximity to Jesus. It’s not that he hates Jesus, it’s just that he thinks Jesus of as a religious icon; something you wear around your neck, nothing more.”  

Growing Up

Church was a place to see my friends. Play. Make crafts in class and sit through long talks from the pastor that sounded too grown-up for me. I drew a lot of pictures during church. When I was 12, I finally understood why Jesus came and died and rose again. I had this overwhelming sense of my bad choices and decided I didn’t want to go to hell. So, I prayed alone under the covers of my bunk bed. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what I did, but I felt better, knowing that my chance of going to hell was abated. 

Fast Forward

I have no idea how your middle and high school days went, but mine took a nosedive. My body went through its awkward stages and I found myself increasingly drawn to rebellious choices. My introverted personality made it easy to keep things under wraps. The fact no one really took the time to know me allowed me to put on this duplicit facade. I’d play the good church boy on Sundays and the less than pure David the rest of the week. My interest in Jesus dropped off dramatically. In fact, by age 15, I was negotiating with my parents on how little I could go to church. I didn’t want to chuck Jesus totally; just wanted enough to keep me out of hell and live as I wanted. 

Walking Away

When I was 16, my good friend, Kevin was killed in a car-train accident. If it wasn’t for that tragic event, who knows where I’d be today. My proximity to Jesus was going quickly into negative territory. All I knew was I wanted life my way and that included my out-of-control sexual drive and total destruction of anything good about me. I hated myself and I saw no one or no way Jesus could fix me. 

Kevin’s death stopped me in my tracks. Whereas I figured God hated me for all I had done in secret, I discovered His desire for me was for my good. He wanted to know me; spend time with me. I cried, a lot! My shame was intense. But, He didn’t give up on me. Through some tough times, I felt myself growing closer to Jesus. That gap was closing and to be honest, I liked being known by Him. All I experienced was forgiveness and grace. 

The Journey Continues

I’d like to say I finally arrived in a tight relationship with Jesus. That somehow I’ve can kick-back and coast. What I’ve learned is to pursue the infinite Jesus is an ongoing adventure that speaks to my soul in infinite ways. I’m learning how eternal my soul is and how my increasing proximity to Jesus is what fuels my life. I am known and truly loved.

You and Jesus

All honesty, you could be a Jesus-hater, antagonistic, violently opposed to Him. And yet, He still loves you. Or, you could be apathetic towards Jesus. You don’t hate Him, but you have no interest in getting closer to Him either. Yet, He still loves you. Or, you could be like my friend who discovered Jesus for the first time, felt the weight of his sin drop off his shoulders, and was overwhelmed by forgiveness. Jesus loves him just the same as the Jesus-hater or the apathetic dude. 

Jesus and Your Story

I’ve never been to a funeral where they spoke ill of the deceased. It seems all of his/her good efforts were touted and associated with their eternal destiny in heaven. No one gets to heaven by their own efforts. We are saved by grace through faith, not by works so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9.  There’s only one way to eternity with God; Jesus. “Someday, I will!” a young man I mentor said to me, as a way to push Jesus away. “The issue isn’t that you don’t understand the good news of Jesus, but that you don’t want to give your life to Him.”  He gave me a half-grin. I gave Jesus my heart at 12, but by 15 I was more interested in my own agenda. 

Jesus wants to write His story in your life. The question is are you willing?  He loves you regardless of your proximity to Him. Love alone doesn’t save you. Jesus does when you repent of your self-centered ways and embrace His free gift of eternal life. Apart from Jesus, I can do nothing. Apart from Jesus, my life is a fraction of what it could be. 

What’s Your Proximity?

Here’s a metric that helps me think about where I’m at with Jesus

-10 Hostile Jesus hater. You’d rather promote the rebellion than support Jesus.

-7 Jesus might exist but I have no interest in Him.

-5 Jesus exists but I’m too busy with my life for Him.

-3 Jesus is real. There are days I could use His help.

-1 Jesus, I need you.

Cross of Christ

1 I’ve repented of all things me. I am done trying to run my own life. Jesus, I need you!

3 Like a toddler, I need help learning how to live in close proximity with Jesus

5 Learning how to stay close to Jesus, I’m interested in how He can use my life.

7 Jesus, live your life through me 24/7.

10 Jesus, you didn’t come to make my life better. You came so that you can come alongside others through me. Here I am, Jesus, send me.

We want to hear from you!

Regardless of where you’d place yourself in proximity to Jesus, we at Mentoring Warriors want to hear from you. Send us a note of where you are with Jesus and why, to info@mentoring-warriors.com

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of www.Mentoring-Warriors.com. Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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