I was walking in downtown Greenville and watched a couple strolling across the bridge. Not a young couple; clearly married for some time. They seemed to be “with” one another.
But as I walked toward–and ultimately passed them–I noticed that they were both caught up with their personal smart phones. She was taking pictures; he was reading and texting. She said something; he mumbled in reply. She spoke again; he said, “Did you say something?”
And I had to refrain from chuckling under my breath.
They were there, together, walking side by side . . . but they weren’t together. You might say they were in close proximity . . . but they weren’t really “with” one another.
And then I thought. That’s how it often is with me and Jesus.
Jesus said He would abide with us (John 14:23). He said that He would never leave those who are His (Matthew 28:20). But I don’t always live there . . . with Him.
I wonder if this is why Paul prayed for the Ephesians the way he did:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith . . . (Ephesians 3:14–17)
What is Paul asking for? He longs for a work of the Spirit in the lives of the Ephesian Christians so that they would more fully and richly experience Christ at home in the hearts. Jesus is already with them, but Paul is asking for deeper and richer experience of that.
When speaking through John and addressing one of the seven churches of Asia, Jesus Himself spoke of wanting a greater experience of intimacy with some of His followers:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)
What does Jesus want? He longs for a response that brings about more intimate and rich experience of His presence in the lives of His followers.
So, as one of His, He is always with me . . . but I can end up living in “close proximity” to Him but not really being with Him.