“It is important to realize that the basic ideas of Christianity rest upon the idea that God made the first move” [from St. John Studies, “In the Beginning,” January 27, 2021]. God spoke the world into existence, God acted in order to reveal Himself to man (first through the Old Testament prophets and then through Jesus Christ) and finally God made His move to save man by sending His only Son to the cross to bear man’s iniquity.
Obviously we owe God quite a lot but what does He want in return?
Maybe we can see what He wants in the following verse from Matthew 7:7: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” The major emphasis should be on the word seek. John Stott, in his book Basic Christianity, writes that for many, the wonderful things God has done for all of us seem to remain in the past. “So what if God created the world… How does that relate to me? Of course if He did create it, that’s great, but I am not sure I owe Him anything for that. It is nice that God wants me to know Him but my experience is that this knowledge of God matters little to me in today’s world. I know about Jesus, but I am not sure I need Him, that I need to worship Him. In fact, if I become a dedicated follower, I may have to give up some of the fun things that I enjoy doing.”
This is the classic response of someone who does not value life with God and His son Jesus Christ…
In Psalm 14: 2, 3 it says: “The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any that act wisely, that seek after God. They have all gone astray, they are all alike corrupt; there is none that does good, no not one.”
The truth is God has sought us in the past and He is still seeking us.
What must we do? How do we respond?
We must decide to seek Him.
This is the response that God wants from man. In Matthew 18: 12 He explains that all of us are important. “”What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” In Luke 15: 8-10 “What woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Stott writes “God desires to be found, but only by those who seek Him” . God wants to be found by those who recognize that they benefit by what He has done and their lives will be made better by a relationship with Him.
How do we respond to God? Stott says we must be diligent in our quest to be with The Father. The life of the Christian is not a lazy life. We should strive to learn as much as we can about God in His Word and we should strive to serve others with His love in our hearts. We should also be humble as we approach our Father. Pride is a common hindrance to knowing God. He does not want us to go beyond our capability as we begin our efforts to know Him. We should be willing to acknowledge that our minds are limited and no human is capable of truly understanding God’s ways. Stott writes “Jesus loved children. They are teachable. They are not proud, self-important and critical. We need the open, humble and receptive mind of a little child” . We should approach God honestly. To really know God, it is important to have our preconceptions set aside. Many people read the Bible with their minds made up with their own personal agenda. If that is the case, God may not be found in the pages of His Word. Jeremiah 29: 13 says “You will seek Me and find Me; when you seek Me with all your heart.” Lastly, as we seek The Father, we should be prepared to be obedient to His message. God’s message demands our obedience, a moral change in our lives. If we find God and insist on doing our will, He will not work within us. It is His will that we should seek to obey rather than our own. Earlier in my “classic response,” the last line is the key to the person who decides not to follow God’s ways. When someone says “I may have to give up some of the fun things that I enjoy doing,” they may be saying that they refuse to make a moral change in their life. A believer in God does not fear living the life that God requires; they realize the value of making a change. Stott says “Fear is the greatest enemy of the truth. Fear paralyzes our search [for God]. We know that to find God and to accept Jesus Christ would be a very inconvenient experience. It would involve the rethinking of our whole manner of life…We do not find because we do not seek. We do not seek because we do not want to find” .
On January 11 of this year I lost a friend, a man I had known for forty-five years. This man may have known The Lord, but in my experience with him, we never talked of faith. In his last years he joined my church and he found his way to my Sunday school class. He interacted with the class and as his teacher, I would ask him questions from time to time. I would describe him as someone who struggled to let go of his worldly desires and allow Jesus to have more control of his life. I know that he had some habits that he enjoyed and they controlled him. The moral choice that God demands was too much and he could not make a change.
I was not with him in his last days on this earth, but I have a friend who was. This woman has a strong belief in The Lord and had similar habits that existed until God took them away and she began to follow Him. She was able to witness to my friend in ways that I could not. She was so familiar with his path. In the last hours of his life, my friend found The Lord, professing a peace that he had never known before, a strength to reconcile with God and a desire to be with Him. Like the landowner in Matthew who paid his workers equal amounts despite the length of time each worked, God accepted my friend to be with Him even though he waited until the end of his life to profess his true faith. It does not matter, for in God’s kingdom the “last will be first, and the first will be last.” God is a generous God and God continues to seek us, even unto our last hour on this earth.
He wants us to give Him a chance in our lives. He has spoken, acted and saved and He wants us to respond. Seek Him. Come to the Bible that “claims to be His revelation. Come particularly to the Gospels which tell the story of Jesus Christ. Give Him a chance to confront you with Himself and to authenticate Himself to you” .
God made the first moves.
He spoke, He acted and He saved…
Won’t you respond?
*My first post on The Cross of Christ made reference to Basic Christianity so I am going to insert comments on that book in between posts on The Cross. I think readers may find this interesting. For my opening comments on Basic see the post “Studying Stott Again” on October 25, 2020. I have never worked on two books at the same time but I feel now is the time to do this.