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Living in the nearness of God

 

The following two Sundays share the theme of “Living in the nearness of God”. Recognition and profession, which were the focus of the first two Sundays, are to urge us to a life with God. A life in the nearness of God is something for which human beings will always need to strive. Although God grants His nearness unconditionally, human beings have the tendency to distance themselves from God through their sinfulness.

The divine service on Sunday, 20 January, calls upon the believers to be steadfast. “Living steadfastly” is our response to God’s faithfulness with regard to His gifts and promises. This has practical effects: it is demonstrated in prayer, whereby we can encounter God as the One in whom we can have unreserved trust. It is likewise demonstrated by our willingness to become involved in the congregation, but also by our charity and by our commitment to the gospel.

The emphasis of the last Sunday in January is “Receiving grace”. Those who live in the nearness of God will lead a life defined by faith and will receive divine grace. Grace is a term that appears in the context of law. A condemned criminal is granted liberty by way of a pardon. We cannot make any claim to grace. It remains an initiative of God that is entirely at His discretion. Divine grace must be received in faith. Grace and the experience of God’s nearness thus belong together. Faith does not merely imply that we hold something to be true, but rather that we possess a fundamental trust in God. Those who live their lives on the basis of this trust will experience God’s salvific activity.

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