Persecuted for the Gospel
Many people grow discouraged when they are persecuted for telling others the Good News, but that is a strong indication you are doing what you’re supposed to be doing because Jesus said, “They persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20b). And “if the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18). This is because “you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master’” (John 15:1920a). If you are increasingly doing what Christ did, then you are growing closer to Christ. You cannot be Christ like without suffering like Christ did!
Being More Sensitive to Sin
Another sign you’re growing closer to Christ is that you’re becoming more sensitive to sin. When I sin–and we all do (1 John 1:8, 10)–I think of the cross and just how high of a price Jesus paid for my sins. This immediately drives me to repentance and confession of my sin. Maybe you’ve already discovered that over time you have grown increasingly sensitive to sin. I don’t like to keep long accounts of sin. I find that the Holy Spirit convicts me more easily of sin than He did a few years ago. I desperately want to be more like Christ, and that prompts me to be even more like Jesus was–perfectly holy and without sin–but realizing that I will never be sinless in this life. Even so, my desire is to sin less. If that’s you, then you are growing closer to Christ.
The Desire to Be in the Body
Jesus is the Head of the church, and He is the Great Shepherd. I don’t miss church very often; but when I do, I feel like there is something missing. It’s like a gaping hole in my heart. I yearn to be with Christ’s Body, the church. This seems to be more overwhelming than it was a few years ago. So if you are growing closer to Christ, your desire to be with Christ’s Body, the church, should also grow.
Seeking to Serve More
Jesus said that He came not to be served but to serve (Matthew 20:28). Remember when Jesus washed the disciple’s feet? He even washed Judas’ feet, the one who would betray Him. Since Christ has ascended to the right hand of the Father, we are to be Jesus’ hands, feet, and mouth while on Earth. In the church where I pastor, I have noticed an increasing desire in the body to serve in areas where no one else is serving. That is very much like Christ. If you are increasingly serving others in the church and even those in the world, you are growing closer to Christ because that is what Christ did.
I must admit, there are somedays when I don’t feel like reading my Bible. Maybe it’s my flesh or the enemy, but I understand the more I don’t feel like reading the Bible, the more I need to read it. If I don’t read it today, then I might skip the next day and the next and the next, but that would mean I’m starving myself of my daily Bread of Life. Pray if this happens to you. I did and not long afterwards, I began to have a hunger and thirst for His Word. I read out of the Old Testament and New Testament every morning. For me, no breakfast if no Bible. I hunger for Him and to know Christ better. If I eat, I’ll get hungry again, but Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). If you are growing hungrier for His Word, you’re probably growing closer to Christ.
More of Jesus
This year I started reading the four gospels in the New Testament, as well as some out of the Old Testament, so instead of reading it from Matthew to Revelation, I started reading the four gospels from beginning to end, and when I finish John, I start over again with Matthew. I’m going to do that all year long in the hopes of knowing Jesus and His teachings better. By reading the four gospels, I hope to have a four dimensional view of Jesus. The more I know about Jesus, the more I love Jesus, and the more I love Jesus, the more I long for His return. Are you eagerly waiting for His appearing? Do you think about the joy of that moment? If so, you might be growing closer to Christ.
Doing what He Says
Sometimes we are so yielded to the Holy Spirit that we do things for others, being motivated out of love. We are actually doing the things Jesus commanded (Matt 25:34-39), and that is pleasing to Him, because He takes it personally (Matt 25:40). We know we’re not saved by works, but we are saved for works, because God’s appointed them for us to do (Eph 2:10), so when you find yourself practicing pure religion without even thinking about it (James 1:27), you’re growing closer to Christ, because what you’re doing is actually doing it for Him (Matt 25:40).
We also know another thing about growing closer to Christ. It’s the fact that His second coming is getting closer and closer with every passing second. He could come at any given moment, then we won’t have to write about being close to Christ…we will see Him as He is, which means we finally get to see God face to face (Rev 21:3; 22:4)! That’s as closer to Christ as you can