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God is Closer Than You Think by John Ortberg

A Book Review
By Dr. Gayle Woods

Immanence. Transcendence. How often does the average Christian contemplate these attributes of God? We say that He is everywhere present but we act as if it does not make a difference. It is almost as if we place the fulcrum of our theological understanding closer to immanence so that the weight of acceptance falls on the side of transcendence, and even aloofness. We say that God cares about our every need but we only go to Him for assistance in times of crisis.

John Ortberg masterfully considers the implications of this in “God is Closer Than You Think.” He draws a word picture of his concern by taking a close look at Michelangelo Buonarroti’s brilliant painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. There God is seen reaching, stretching, straining to reach Adam. Adam is lounging in a relaxed pose. His attention is elsewhere. His hand which does not quite reach that of God’s is limp in the posture of disinterest or unconcern. Ortberg then speaks of the gap that separates the people of God from His power and assistance. Even if the gap is a hairbreadth it is a separation. The author endeavors to awaken of desire the reader to experience the touch of God. “Spiritual growth, in a sense, is simply increasing our capacity to experience the presence of God,” he states. (p. 25)

The volume is easy to read. Being structured well you are able to clearly see him build his case concerning our need to be godly people. The difference between doing and being is always a tension that weighs on the hearts of those who hunger to be close to God. What does it mean for us to know about God, and how we must live to obey His will, but to also be in close communion with Him every waking moment of the day? What does it mean to live in two worlds at the same time having just as much connection with one as with the other?

If you truly love God with your whole soul, mind and body you will enjoy this book. If you hunger for a closer relationship with God you will devour the contents of the book with a renewed hope. If you have strayed from that close walk with Him your conscience will be pricked, your heart will be stirred, and you probably will spend a considerable amount of time on your knees in repentance.

John Ortberg, God Is Closer Than You Think, 2005. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, ISBN: 0-310-25349-7.

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