Separation to God can be a process. In that process we become more like God. Remember that God made man to be like him originally. But because of sin he went far from God. And the process of coming back to God was initiated with Jesus giving the invitation: come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30). “Coming to him” is about separation to him. He invites us to take rest from sin, to be reconstructed inwardly into his own form.
After sin entered into the world there was rapid degeneration, so must so that God set out to destroy the world in a flood. He said that the imagination of the heart of men was continually evil, the sin therefore is not just affected the relationship with God, leading to a separation from God, pulling man away from God with increasing degenerative expression of that (Genesis 6:1-5).
There was the effect of sin on the soul, on the thinking process, the emotion, the will. When wickedness spread it is the expression of the sin effect on the soul.
And there is the effect of sin on the body which comes in the shape of sicknesses and diseases. Sin leads to break down, first of relationship with God, then of breakdown of the processes of the mind and also the body.
God wants us back to his fold and that begins with repentance. The bible says, repent and be converted, and times of refreshing will come from the presence of God (Acts 3:19).
In a lesson on repentance Jesus spoke about the prodigal son who at first decided to be separated from the father and hoped to make it on his own, but at the end his experience was bitter.
His attempt at independence backfired and he came to the end of himself. He became even more dependent as he sought to eat the food that a farmer gives to his pigs (Luke 15). It was that bad.
Sometimes if we have not gotten to rock bottom we will not see that we need to change our ways, go back to the father from whom we came.
Eventually that son wanted his old life back, or at least something close to it. He saw clearly the futility in following his own ways seeking to be separate from the father. And he took steps of repentance and Jesus said that if a man repents there is joy in the presence of the angels.
Repentance for that son was a process which started within him, but it did not end there. He took some steps. Repentance is more than wishing things were better, steps need to be taken.
That son was ashamed of himself but he had to put away the shame and decided he was going to go back. He felt he deserved rejection but he decided to go back and at the end of the day. What he met on the other end of his repentance was not servitude which he said he wanted but full restoration which he thought he did not deserve.
In Jesus our sins were washed away. Just as the coming of the prodigal son back to the father resulted in joy in the house, it was as if what he did wrong was validated and that was the accusation levelled against the father by the older brother, who thought that the little brother should be made to really pay and not be rewarded with restoration. He needed to be made to pay, to be given a taste of his own medicine. But the father’s heart does not respond like that. Love gives acceptance when repentance is in place and not works, in which we try to qualify for it.
There is an aspect of separation which is akin to translation. Translation is radical change, and such changes occurs in the bible.
Paul wrote that we have been translated from the kingdom of darkness to that of God’s dear son (Colossians 1:13). The experience of salvation is that instantaneous. When Paul met Jesus she went to a hater of Christ to a lover. It was a translation.
While change of lifestyle may be progressive, including our walking in our spiritual calling, to experience salvation is instantaneous. In a snap of the finger we move from death to life, we become new creatures, we receive grace for righteousness. Similarly, walking in the Spirit is a process (Galatians 5:16, 25).
The healing manifested in the ministry of Jesus were mostly instantaneous. But regarding the coming of truth into us and the true change it will cause, Jesus said it will take a process (John 8:30-36).
You cannot force truth on people. Paul said that Timothy should pay attention to reading; that speaks of personal responsibility (1Timothy 4:13). He said he should preach the word (2Timothy 4:2). The word of God enables us to make a transition from the wrong behaviours to good (James 1:21).
Success for Joshua was going to be aided by his meditation of God’s word, and he had to dwell on the word day and night. It is a process. God told him that he needs to meditate on the word of God day and night and he will have good success. Success therefore is not instantaneous, it is worked at through the word.
Jesus spent long hours in prayer to highlight his separation to God. He shows us how it should be done. He sometimes spent an all-night in prayer (Luke 6:12). In prayer we set out to be separated to God, we carve out time to be with him, to seek his face, to see his light, to be with him, to revel in his presence.
When we do not spend time with God, we will not get to know him as we should. In the presence of God we should not hurry. In that place we are tuned to hear his words and programmed to be like him. The bible says that in the presence of God there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:9). In his presence we experience fullness.