A couple of years ago, I heard the song “From a Distance” for the first time. Though made popular by Bette Middler, my introduction was a live performance from a local celebrity during a fundraising breakfast for a community charity. While many around me seemed to be deeply moved by the lyrics, I was less than impressed.
I did not recognize the deity whose praises were being sung. It certainly was not the God of Israel and the Church, who loves with passion and compassion, whose fierce determination to be with His people is written all over the pages of Scripture. Our God is no distant monarch, nor, as Al Pacino’s diabolical title character charges in The Devil’s Advocate, an “absentee landlord.”
John Stott suggests as much when he writes,
“Many people visualize a God who sits comfortably on a distant throne, remote, aloof, uninterested, and indifferent to the needs of mortals, until, it may be, they can badger him into taking action on their behalf. Such a view is wholly false. The Bible reveals a God who, long before it even occurs to man to turn to him, while man is still lost in darkness and sunk in sin, takes the initiative, rises from his throne, lays aside his glory, and stoops to seek until he finds them.” (Basic Christianity, 11.)
Arminians refer to this seeking, initiative-taking love of God as prevenient grace. Like the father who runs out to greet the prodigal son in Luke 15, our Christ is a king who seeks and saves, who loves with abandon, never content to be at a distance. With Christ the King Sunday upon us, let us remember why we have reason to celebrate an incarnate “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
Thanks be to the God, who was come near us in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.