One thing is clear, the nearer one approaches an object, the clearer it becomes in your sight. For instance, if one has a book but is at a distance, he can see the prints but cannot see the letters. Hence, he cannot know what is written it the book. He needs to come closer to the book to make meaning out of the prints.
Children can only produce the character of their parents when there is a close contact with them over a period of time. Closeness and proximity are strong agents of mentorship, discipleship, parenting and followership.
Distant parenting and mentorship will end in failure very often. Parenting and mentorship often requires more than just instructions and rebuke. For parenting to be successful, the child has to see for himself the life pattern of the parent. Words of instructions may not abound, but what people see with their own eyes stays for long. By living together, the child can tell whom his father is in truth.
We have the same proximity phenomenon in fellowshipping with Christ. The closer we are to Christ, the more it is possible to be like Him, know him, imitate him, fellowship with him, hear from Him, successfully represent Him, speak for Him, the more we understand his nature and judgments.
There are many Christians who don’t yet understand that if we truly desire to replicate the life of Jesus Christ characterized by dominion over forces of evil, absolute holiness, boldness, humility, steadfastness and loyalty to God even to the point of death, we cannot afford to follow Christ Jesus at a distance.
An adage says, “One whose feet are not in a river cannot be drowned by the river.” For water to drown a man he has to be close to, and in the water. For us to be drowned by the Spirit of God and the triumphant nature of Christ formed in us we cannot be at a distance from God, we cannot follow Christ at a distance.
Distance from God implies that we are far away from God, far from what he is doing, far from where he is and his things. And it is easier to backslide being far from God. It is also very easy to fall into many sins and temptations.
There are some who are neither here nor there. They are like a pendulum bob switch, they are often ‘on and off’ from God. Such switch cannot power anything. And nobody can use a switch that goes on and off on its own, be it man or God.
Jesus Christ lived with his disciples, He walked with them, He talked with them, they ate together, they slept together, they saw Him react to situations. By this contact relationship they had many divine experiences, saw many miracles, heard many sermons, and received many impartations that would be hard to let go even if Christ should be taken away from them.
You see my brethren, the truth with many backslidden Christians is that they could not get enough to keep them steadfast in faith. They probably had some religiosities here and there, but what they ought to know and have they couldn’t get. There is hardly anyone who is fully equipped in experience, grace, word and who continues to get more who will deny Christ. But for us to be equipped and continue to be equipped we must be in a close and contact relationship with the Spirit of Jesus Christ like the Apostles were with Christ.
The proof that Christ’s mentorship of the Apostles worked well was shown when Jesus was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Thomas said: “Let us go and die with Him.” John 11:16. By this we know that the faith budding in the Apostles had become stronger than the fear of death.
Again, Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, “I will never leave you, even though all the rest do!” He went ahead to declare that he could die for Jesus. Peter’s convictions were soon tested after the arrest of Jesus. The Scripture sates: “But Peter followed Him at a distance.”
From a distance Peter couldn’t look upon the strong face of His Master anymore. From a distance he couldn’t speak to, and hear from His Master who could have strengthened and kept him going. From a distance he began to see the strong arm of God upon his master and how Jesus was treated with contempt. Then his heart failed him.
He had always sat and dinned with his brothers and Christ, but on that day, because he was at a distance from his brethren and his Lord, he sat down with sinners. Suddenly he felt alone and defeated. His psychological muscles failed him and his convictions were overpowered with great fear. And then, thrice he denied and swore to never knowing Jesus.
There are many who have backslidden, and some have betrayed Christ just like Peter because they will rather be with unbelievers than fellowship with the Church and with Christ, such people are at a distance. So, when temptations come, they are swept off their feet.
Following Christ at a distance
To follow Christ at a distance is shown in:
- When our going to Church and fellowship is neither here nor there. That is, a lackluster attitude towards attending Church activities.
- When we do not pay attention to know the scriptures; to study it regularly and know its value.
- When our prayer life is on and off.
- When our devotion to God is not stable or consistent.
- When we don’t have a one on one relationship with God and His Spirit
- When we don’t serve God as He ought to be served. Himself will be far from such worshippers.
- When we don’t align to what God is doing in the present.
We only harm ourselves with this kind of lackluster Christian life. The only thing we will get with this style of following Christ is that we will hardly seek and find the face of a God at distance. We will hardly know the person and true nature of a God at distance. We will hardly replicate the nature of whom we don’t know. Many sins and temptations will conquer us. Darkness will overtake such worshippers. The victorious nature of God will be hard for distant followers to replicate. By this, many spiritual battles will overcome us, and many will eventually get tired and backslide.
“Those who are far from you will perish…” -Psalms 73
When you are asked why a Christian has backslidden from the faith, tell them that he/she followed Christ at a distance.