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Why aren't you closer to God?

What prevents you from enjoying a deep, full, close relationship with your Father in heaven?

You need to know how to draw closer to God.


At 8:13 Friday morning, members of Philadelphia's 'Friday the 13th Club' will walk under a ladder, eat a breakfast of 13 items, break mirrors, spill salt, open umbrellas, joke about black cats and light three cigarettes on one match. The ceremony will wrap up at 10:13 a.m."

That statement is from an Associated Press news release describing how one group of people feels about common superstitions. These people poke fun at them, as well they should. But not everyone shares their levity.

It's a pity, but some people believe life is based on luck. They feel that they've come to whatever station in life they have, or to whatever rung of the ladder they are on, because of forces that are totally outside their control.

They feel that they are merely corks floating on the waves of the sea of life, tossed hither and yon by overpowering forces they neither understand nor can face.

Some people exhibit this fatalistic view of life openly. They carry rabbits' feet or four-leafed Covers. They refuse to step on cracks for fear they will "break their mother's back," or they cross the street so black cats won't saunter in front of them.

Other people are superstitious about religion. They carry medals of "saints," pray with relics clutched to their bosoms or carry prayers in little boxes around their necks or strapped to their arms or foreheads.

Even more people, though they may not believe in religious superstitions or in such charms as rabbits' feet, nonetheless, deep within themselves, feel trapped by the circumstances of this world. They feel that their lives are out of control. And, sadly, their lives probably are.

But not because they have to be.


Trapped by circumstances?

Although this type of erroneous thinking affects every area of a person's life, it does the most damage to one's spiritual growth.

Right in God's Church we have members who believe that they could never be really, truly close to their Creator God, for a broad number of irrational reasons.

They feel, for example, that they are from the wrong type of background. Their parents were not religious, so how could they ever be? They feel they are from the wrong part of the country, have the wrong heredity, that the wrong teachers taught them in high school or that their bosses are standing in their way.

A great many people feel that they would be better Christians if only their bosses, their wives, their children, their brethren or even their minister would be different!

Other people say that they are too young to be close to God, or that they're too old. Some say they have too much of this world's educational while others feel they don't have enough. And, finally, some blame the Church's government. If only the Church's government was different, then their relationship with their God would be better.


Your mother, father, boss, teacher, age, education or the Church's government do not determine how close your relationship is with God. The only person who affects how close you are to God is you.


Free moral agency

What about you? Do you feel your life is under your control? Or do you feel that you're the victim of outside forces that prohibit you from having a close, satisfying, deeply personal and constantly growing relationship with your God?

If you feel that way — if you fee that you could never be a Moses, an Aaron or a David because of somebody or something beyond your control — then you need to discover one of the most basic lessons of the Bible.

That lesson is this: You are a free moral agent. Your spiritual life is under your control. You can be as close to God as any person has or will ever be.

But be careful! This is not to say that you will have the same job or role or calling on earth now as Moses or Aaron or Pastor General Herbert W. Armstrong. These men all were called to specific jobs, to positions of authority in the past and now.

But you can be as close to God as any man or woman has ever been, if you really want to be — if you do what these spiritually successful people have done in their lives. In fact, Mr. Armstrong writes each article and does each broadcast in the hope that you will do just that — follow the principles of the Bible and grow spiritually strong and close to God.


Not a "spiritual winner"?

So ask yourself this question: "Why do I feel that I cannot be a spiritual winner?"

Perhaps you feel you can't win spiritually because you are not a physical winner in this life. But notice 1 Corinthians 1:27-28. These verses describe the type of people God calls — they describe us:

"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen."

We tend to look upon ourselves as physically inferior persons — that is, persons not highly successful in material ways in this world — and therefore conclude that we can amount to nothing spiritually. We "compare ourselves with some that commend themselves" (2 Cor. 10:12) and come up losers in our own minds. We then conclude we cannot be spiritual winners.

However, God says the exact opposite. James tells us that God has chosen "the poor of this world rich in faith" to be "heirs of the kingdom" (Jas. 2:5).

God condemns those who look upon the outward appearance and become respecters of persons because of their material possessions or status (verses 1-4).

God rather promises us that He will look upon our hearts even as He did when He picked humble David to be king over Israel instead of his more physically appealing brothers (1 Sam. 16:6-7).

Another reason we may decide we can't be spiritual winners is because hiding behind circumstances "beyond our control" gives us an excuse for not living up to our potential. It takes the responsibility off of us.

But this excuse is not new. The first humans used the same technique in the Garden of Eden.

When God confronted Adam with his sin of eating the forbidden fruit, Adam, instead of admitting that as a free moral agent he was responsible for his own act, immediately put the blame on Eve, who in turn put the blame on the serpent (Gen. 3:8-13). The first human beings were telling God that they were "victims" — that other people or circumstances were standing in the way of their relationship with Him.

God explains in dramatic and powerful language His feelings about the excuse that you and I are victims of the unrighteousness of others:

"The word of the Lord came unto me again, saying, What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge?" (Ezek.18:1-2).

We say the same thing today. We say, in effect, that relatives, our bosses or somebody or something else is responsible for our not praying enough or studying enough or serving enough in the Church. But God condemns such an attitude.

"As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die" (verses 3-4).

In other words, God holds each person responsible for his own actions. Blaming your boss or your Aunt Mary just doesn't impress God.