Wednesday, January 06, 2010

His Face Awaits

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Those words came forth from the mouth of God’s psalmist Patriarch, David. King David knew what is was to have trouble and great distress. He knew the betrayal of his own family; he knew the betrayal of friends he had helped; he knew spiritual loneliness; and he knew the shame of personal failure. David was a relatively young man when he wrote Psalm 27, but later in Psalm 37, after he had been through so much, he said:
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand. I have been young; and now I am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken…
o David through the inspiration of the Spirit writes “hide not they face far from me”, and then, “When thou sadist, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.”
avid feels far from the Lord, but God assures him that He is not hiding His face from David. He beckons David to seek His face because when he does he will find it. We use such terms so lightly, and because seeking God’s face seems so ethereal and airy, we feel the need to crush the sacred mystery of its spiritual essence and distill it down to some form of behavior. Going to church, tithing, reading the Bible, and praying are usually what passes for seeking the face of God. And indeed, mostly we ignore the subject altogether.
We seek all sorts of things in this life and culture. We seek success; we seek affirmation; we seek love; we seek promotion; we seek health; we seek entertainment; and of course we seek money. We attend church and we become a part of that church’s community, and we give and participate in that local church’s particular mission on some level. And that kind of Christian behavior becomes a substitute for seeking God’s face. Unwittingly, we have climbed aboard the ecclesiastical people mover and we are going for a ride to, well, somewhere.
A day becomes a week, and a week becomes a month, and months become years. Turn around and see the path we have worn on this journey. Do you find that these weeks and months and years of footprints look fairly similar? We have been a part of God’s grace and we have seen Him do many great things in and for us; but have we seen, or even sought the face of Christ? Has our journey become very predictable and mundane? Are we prisoners of this culture, and worse yet, this ecclesiastical construct? And yet when the bills are paid, and the job seems secure, and our health is manageable, are we walking along at peace with the world and content with our spiritual walk? Do we even examine our spiritual walk with the mirror of God’s Word, and with a thirsty knowledge that there must be more to knowing the Creator than what we have manufactured?
Have we seen the face of Christ, or at least a tiny glimpse that empowers us to seek with a greater intensity and passion that face that changes everything? The man in the television commercial asks the little girl if she wants a horse and she says that she does. The man gives her a little toy horse. The next little girl gets a real pony, and the other little girl says, “But you didn’t say did I want a real one”. The man replies, “You never asked for one”. We have ceased to ask our Lord for a greater depth of devotion and life changing experience. My testimony goes something like, "I used to drugs and all sorts of sin but Jesus changed my life”. And that is glorious.
But can I say, “God has dramatically changed my life again today”? Can we say, “By God’s grace I am passionately seeking the face of Christ and allow His glory and presence to continue the metamorphosis in me that will more and more look like Him”? The Christian experience has been seriously tailored to fit nicely into a well rounded western lifestyle, and it is unremarkable not only in the midst of hedonistic darkness, but in the midst of other believers. In fact, what would be the single most distinguishing feature of a professing believer’s life today? He doesn’t smoke or drink? He doesn’t use profanity and he isn’t promiscuous? He goes to church a few times a week? There are millions of unbelievers who would accurately fit that description, to say nothing of many cult members.
And what do people find so attractive about a cult? It is because these people have such a commitment, regardless of how misguided, that so alters their lifestyle they are a curiosity to many of us. And when we watch a documentary on television about some cult who follow a man they believe is the Christ, we shake our heads in disbelief that people could be so gullible. But do we shake our heads in disbelief as to the shallowness of our commitment to the True and Living Christ? The Creator Himself lives inside us and yet we appear very similar to those who know not God. We are religious, but are we spiritual?
So what does it mean to seek the face of Christ? You would think that this topic has been beaten to death, and that every week someone new in our church arrives Sunday morning with an uncontrollable need to share his dramatic experience with Jesus that very week. And the entire gathering is empowered and encouraged by this man’s overflowing exuberance, because even though they did not have that same glorious experience last week, his testimony inspires them to continue to passionately seek Christ’s face. You see, the entire congregation is seeking the face of God. Considering the Person and power of Jesus Christ, that would not be an unreasonable expectation, would it?
So it comes down to this: What are we passionately seeking? Are we spending some time in the midnight watches seeking the face of Christ? Are things robbing us of the precious time with our Father and the time that is necessary to press through the veil and experience His glory? I am not speaking of some self serving experience that some use as a self elevating platform for spiritual recognition and sometimes become a communal irritant, but I do speak of an experience that breaks us and opens up expansive chambers of spiritual reality where Christ actually dwells in the spirit.
It is past time for a complete housecleaning that strips away the dross that has gathered and petrified around our spiritual walks and indeed our hearts. Jesus is coming, possibly soon, and should we not be fervently preparing ourselves to meet the King of Glory? This is not some precious religious story meant to warm our hearts and sing us to sleep. This is the culmination of all of creative history and this is the day in which our Redeemer calls us to Himself. This is not a time for conscious soothing and continuing the same mundane walk as yesterday; this is a time for awakening and revival that grabs hold of any heart willing to admit they need it.
This is not easy because many idols must fall and much fallow ground needs tilling. Do not expect swelling numbers of eager believers becoming committed to at least give some effort toward seeking Christ, for most the well worn paths of measured spiritual activity will still satisfy whatever thirst they might have had years ago. The familiar will continue to be their strength, and the companionship of the like minded many will chase out any thoughts of leaving their spiritual reservation. They will continue to live in a petrified state of duplicated religious practice, and indeed, non-practice. The strength of such existence is insurmountable by the sheer strength of our own wills; this deliverance comes only through a mighty move of God’s Spirit. And if you are not considered odd or at least uncomfortably driven, you will not reach Him.
I have dispatched the message I was given, and if you have read this you are accountable. Do not look to me or Wesley or even Paul; look to yourselves. It doesn’t matter what the common herd of believing wildebeests do, you will either continue the endless and sometimes mindless migration to nowhere, or you will allow the Spirit to separate you for His purposes. And if you are culled out from among the indistinguishable herd, you must not allow the smallest particle of pride or self righteousness to find a home or you will die quickly. The roaring lion makes quick work of such targets.

And what is our reward?
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness,
hath shined in our hearts,
to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
What would you give to see and experience the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ?
Well, dear saint, I have good news and bad news.
The bad news is that it will cost you everything.
The good news is that it will cost you everything.

1 comment:

mrs k said...

"He who has ears to hear, listen!"