Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Seek First God's Presence, Not God's Presents (PrayerLife)

Columbus, Ohio

Many years ago a man verbally abused me in a church meeting. He hurt me in front of others. I did not hurt him back. The following Sunday morning he came to me and asked me to forgive him. I was glad for this until he added, "I have to ask you to forgive me because if I don't God won't give me my blessing." None of this was really about God or me. This man was using both of us for his own selfish prospering.

For a pure-hearted follower of Jesus God himself is their great reward, not what God can give them. The idea is not to try to control our circumstances by using God, but simply to love God. Seek first God's kingdom and God's righteousness, for its own sake. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, simpliciter. Love God for who God is, not for what God can give you.

I like how Dallas Willard expresses this core biblical idea, from which all things flow. He writes:

"Our contentment lies not in his presents but in the presence of the One whose presents they are. In all our trials we are more than conquerors because, as we have seen, nothing shall be able to “separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:39)." (Willard, Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God, p. 60)