THE ABSENCE OF SEEKING
WITHIN THE CHURCH
Ps.27: 8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.
Jer.29: 13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
Heb.11: 6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
The Scriptures are replete with exhortations about seeking God. And these exhortations are for believers. This word “seeking” is not about attending church. It’s not about supporting the building fund. It’s not about a five minute devotional. And it’s not about listening to your favorite teacher. This word seeking in context demands more than the average ho-hum walk of faith if we can even call it that.
Is.44: 3 For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground:
Jn.7: 37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
Imagine a man so thirsty that he would drink out of a puddle. He is parched beyond belief and he seeks water anywhere he can find it. Does he think about sports at that time? Does he peruse the stock market? Does he want to talk about politics? No! He is desperate for water. And therein lies a great problem with the church. People are not thirsty to say nothing of desperate. And therefore they do not seek Christ. They know about Him; they know Him as Savior; they have read His story; they hear His name on Sunday sometimes; and so they are content with what they know. And yet the Apostle Paul saw the glorified Christ on the road to Damascus. He was taught by Jesus Himself. So Paul could just draw on those experiences, right?
Phil.3: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
Yet Paul still seeks Him? Think about a man whose dog has escaped his back yard. He loves that dog. Does he open the back door and look around and return to his recliner? Does he get up once or twice a week and open his door and look around for his dog? Does he listen to other people tell about how they searched for their dog? Does he remember the day he brought that dog home and with that he is satisfied? Or does he throw on some clothes and rush out of the door yelling his dog’s name without any embarrassment? Does he search and search and search some more until he finds his beloved dog?
So how much more should we seek and seek and seek some more to see more of our Beloved?
Does the athlete become satisfied with knowing the rules? As soon as he can play does he stop training and stop seeking to be better? In the Star Trek movie “generations” a man has experienced what is called the nexus. It was a place of indescribable beauty and joy and ecstasy. He will do anything to return to it. If we have actually experienced a part of the infinite beauty of Jesus and just a glimpse of His glory will we not desire to see more?
A man follows a treasure map. He sails to a distant island and disembarks from his vessel. He follows the directions and arrives at the exact spot which marks where the treasure is. He rejoices since he has found the treasure! He calls his friends and tells them he has found where the treasure is. He reads the map again sometimes. He looks at the place right above the treasure. He relaxes and sails back to his home. When asked by his family concerning the whereabouts of the treasure he pulls out the map and tells them, “It is here!”. Ok, but they want to see the treasure. He makes copies of the map and hands it out.
But why did he not dig and uncover the treasure? It just doesn’t make any sense at all. But most of the evangelical community really does not believe more of Jesus can be revealed. They consider that mysticism. Read a little of the Bible, go to church, and don’t commit adultery and you have all the Jesus there is. That is the modern mindset so to speak. Oh but that is not what the Scriptures teach. The Scriptures clearly exhort us to seek Him with all of our hearts.
And so we are left to decide what seeking is. I have outlined seeking in the natural, but what does it mean to seek the face of Jesus. It sounds so ethereal and metaphysical. But it is real and authentic and unrelated to eastern mysticism. It is a gift of grace through the Spirit. But since the Industrial revolution the things of this world have muscled out the things of the Spirit. This is not transcendental meditation or centering prayer or some kind of mind trick. Seeking the face of God demands the sacrifice of fasting and prayer and meditating upon God’s Holy Word. It cannot be done by multi-tasking or in a convenient slot which does not conflict with other important matters. The reason we do not understand the concept at all is because the church has long since moved away from such things and most of us do not know anyone who seeks Christ in that way.
And so the evil one convinces us that there is no such thing. And after all our pastor never urges us into that kind of deeper realm. He suggests we read the Bible and pray and be faithful to church attendance, but to fast and set aside seasons of sacrificial prayer is not often heard. And make no mistake, the most difficult discipline a believer can do is to pray with fervor and labor. These are not “Polly want a cracker” prayers or “Bless Aunt Sue” petitions. To labor in prayer with adoration and worship and confession and repentance and humility and petition without balancing thoughts of this world in your mind is a great and sacred challenge. Not only is there a high cost, but most believers never desire such a thing.
So the faith once delivered to the saints has settled down into a comfortable religious practice and is now an appendage to a well rounded western lifestyle. It generally affects us only at the times of gathering. But to fast and pray and diligently seek His face is stuff of church history and in today’s fast paced world not even that anymore. It is quite ingenious how the western mindset has constructed a religious practice which has no cost and no inconvenience and no challenge to our careless way of life. While some men labored in the prayer closets we labor in brick and mortar and in the voting booth. Why seek when you already have found it?
Yes, you may have found “it” but have you found Him?