One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple (Psalm 27: 4).
David was a man after God’s own heart who loved to gaze on the beauty of the Lord. But did he enjoy the close communion now opened to us in Jesus? Jesus is the true king who now serves as priest in the heavenly sanctuary. There he beholds the beauty of his Father. And in union with him, we too behold the beauty of his Father as our Father. For in the Spirit, he takes us with him into the Most Holy place. There, with him we share in his communion with the Father in the Spirit.
Men and women of God in Old Testament times were not familiar with this. Even when drawing near to God there was always a distance from him. But now we draw near through the new and living way that Jesus has opened for us. ”Through him we have access by one Spirit to the Father”, (Eph. 2:18). In union with Jesus we draw near with freedom, boldness and confidence in the Spirit crying, Abba! Father! That is truly astonishing! We who were once far off and alienated from God are now admitted into communion with the Holy One in the Most Holy Place.
The Father’s Son united himself to us when he became one of us as Jesus. The Spirit of God unites us to Jesus so that we live with him in God. Nothing can affect or change this union with God. Our lives are hidden with Christ in God. That is an unchanging reality. Nothing we do will make us more united to God; and nothing we do will ever make us less united to God
Within this union we enjoy communion. However, while union with God in Christ does not ebb and flow, our enjoyment of communion with God does change. On a good day we may feel close to God. On a bad day we may feel distant. Then the accusations come (both from Satan and self) which can make us worry that there is something wrong with us. We may even begin to question our union with God.
But should we be so focused on our own faltering enjoyment of communion with God? Doesn’t the Spirit long to put the spotlight on our sharing in Jesus’ communion with the Father. The indwelling Spirit always wants to turn us upward and outward toward Jesus in whom our life is hidden. We are taken away from anxious self-striving to be “enough,” in our communion to resting in Jesus’ communion as always enough for us in the Father’s presence. Only then may we draw near to the Father with freedom, boldness and confidence. For our access into the holy place is always through Jesus in the Spirit, to the Father.
The Puritan theologian John Owen (1616 –1683) wrote in a letter, “I pray God with all my heart that I may be weary of everything else but converse and communion with him” We need to join Owen in this prayer because we so easily find ourselves growing weary of seeking communion with God while rarely growing weary of seeking every other pleasure.
Owen expressed his intense desire for communion with God as a response to God’s desire for communion with him. And that’s the right way around. For the gospel is the good news that in Christ God has established union with us and now eagerly desires communion with us. He wants to enjoy close love relationship with us and gives both his Son and Spirit with that in mind.
We must be fully attentive to God’s strong desire for fellowship with us. Only then are we responsive drawing near to the Father in freedom and confidence. It is vital that we see this! We so easily switch attention to our own desires for communion with God or lack of desire. We may even believe that God will only desire fellowship with us if we truly desire fellowship with him. That is a big mistake! We keep all our attention on the Father’s constant desire to draw close to us through Jesus and his Spirit. And as we do so, desires for communion with God arise within us. So we must always see that our desire for communion with God is a response to God’s desire for communion with us.