How many of us would admit to viewing God as a distant Santa Claus that we can submit our wish list to through prayer and rest assured knowing that it is taken care of? Probably not many of us would say that… but sometimes our actions outshine our words and thoughts.
Many times I personally fail to realize that relationship is everything. Ultimately it isn’t about how much Biblical or theological knowledge I acquire, how sharp I hone my skills for His glory, or about what type of image I can project. A personal relationship is the one thing God wants more than any of that.
In Luke 9 we find a very short but interesting encounter between Jesus and His disciples. Luke 9:18-20 says,
Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”
Sometimes I read right over this… but these few scriptures are very telling of the personal nature of our relationship with the Father. In this passage Jesus rerouted the disciple’s answers and got to the personal side of the question. Jesus basically said, “I don’t care who they say I am… I care about who you say I am.”
I’m afraid that often we are like the disciples. We know about God… His attributes, works, and promises, but we miss His heart. We seek His hands instead of His face.
1 Chronicles 22:19 says,
Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.
Seeking the Lord means seeking his presence. “Presence” is a common translation of the Hebrew word “face.” Literally, we are to seek his “face.” But this is the Hebraic way of having access to God. To be before his face is to be in his presence.
Colossians 3:1-2 says,
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
The great promise to those who seek the Lord in faith is that He will be found. 1 Chronicles 28:9 says,
If you seek him, He will be found by you.
And when he is found, there is great reward. Hebrews 11:6 says,
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
God himself is our greatest reward. And when we have him, we have everything. So… what does it mean to seek God’s face?
- Our whole heart must be involved.
There are many things to seek after in our society and world. There are so many things that can catch our eyes. The hardest part about this is that not everything that can attract our attention is a bad thing. For myself personally I draw too much of my identity from what I do. I can get so caught up in “ministry” that I ignore the purpose behind the “ministry” itself.
Matthew 6:24 says,
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
The Word seek tells us that this is about what we are after – what we pursue – what we want. What we seek, we want, and what we want is what has captivated our heart. What we seek has tremendous power over the direction of our lives.
Lets think about it this way… have you ever driven a car on a very straight road? What happens as you begin to let your eyes drift onto the scenery on either side of the road? The car drifts in whatever direction we are looking. Our seeking of God is just like that car. Whatever we are seeking with our eyes and mind is where we drift. If our pointed direction is in any direction other than on the Father then we are in danger of missing the mark… or crashing.
You could really boil your life down to this: what is it you seek? What are you looking towards and steering the car that is your life?
One person may seek money, and because of that seeking their family and friends end up being sacrificed on the altar of making money. For another person they might be seeking comfort and ease more than anything else, and because of that they are hesitant about taking risks for the Lord.
Another way to get to the root of what you seek is to take a look at what you are passionate about… what you desire.
What we want and love and desire most – that’s what we seek. When God says we are to seek His face, He’s talking about a wholehearted, passionate pursuit of Himself.
Deuteronomy 4:29 says,
But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.
In Jeremiah 29 we find a promise that many people memorize and hold onto. Jeremiah 29:11 says,
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
But… too many of us stop there and miss the full promise that is found in 12-14. Jeremiah 29:12-14 continues to say,
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes…
The future and hope is bound up with God’s people calling upon God and seeking Him with all our hearts. Those who seek God with ALL their hearts find God – every time. But it is important to mention that the word ALL means exactly that… ALL of our hearts. God never promises to bless the halfhearted seeker.
Revelation 3:16 says,
So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
- We seek the face… not the hands.
Do we seek the “stuff” of God? The works of God?
Do you serve a vending machine Jesus? The Jesus that dispenses blessings when you pop the coin in and push the right button.
That may sound ridiculous… but often faith becomes the very coin that releases the blessings from God. Give ten bucks, you get a hundred. Have enough faith and you get healed.
The health and wealth prosperity churches might come to mind immediately when we mention seeking or receiving the blessings of God. But… I’m afraid all of us are guilty of this on a different level.
God is sovereign over all. He is glorious beyond anything we can imagine. God is all we need… and He is better than His promises. We trust His promises and cherish them, but to seek God’s face is to seek the true great treasure and gift.
John Piper writes,
That power has awakened in us, not just a desire for God to give us a happy future, but for God Himself to be the essence of our happy future. It has produced in us, not just a delight in the promises of God, but in the God of the promises. Faith embraces God in all His promises.
Seeking God’s face means seeking God, not just what God gives.
Do we seek God wholeheartedly? Do we want God more than anything else in the world, more than life itself? Lets get personal: are you seeking God wholeheartedly –with everything inside of you? Do you want God and not just what God can give you. Are we seeking the blessings of God or God Himself?
I pray that we are like Paul in Philippians 3:7-8,
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
Jesus said we are to “seek first” the kingdom of God – that is to be our first priority in life. That’s not radical, extremist Christianity. That’s what it is to be a Christian.
So… what do you seek?