Another way that we keep God at a distance is to hold people at arms length. And this keeping people at arms length is a behavior that is constantly reinforced culturally.
We feel that it is not spiritual to experience God in a community. For us the essence of spirituality is private religious experience. To have our spiritual experience weighed by a community of people seems to limit our freedom and calls into question our authenticity.
This is seen when we utter the words “organized religion.” It sounds about as appealing, and maybe even as sinister as “organized crime.” If religion is organized, then, to us Americans, it seems like something is taken away from a relationship with God, not added.
But God will not have it this way. His people are his way of speaking to us, his way of touching us. What else does it mean when God says that we are his body? If we are his body then, through people, God will make his will known to us.
And that is why keeping people at a distance, and not being part of an “organized” community, is so devastating to someone who wants to draw near to God. Because the true God dwells amongst his people, with all our problems, foibles, and sins. By dwelling among his people he hides from the arrogant, but draws near to those who have godly community.