Since God Is . . .
I can envision it as a silhouette, or I can pull it from my memory file almost as real as a color photo. The gentleman was only a few feet from me. At the hour of the week that a number of the Bible college faculty, staff, and students set aside a meal and gathered in the chapel to pray, I was kneeling at the front row of seats and the professor was kneeling at the altar. In this evangelical setting, the altar at the front of the seating space was considered especially a place for humbly kneeling, for communicating with God. It was considered especially a place for God’s effecting His transforming and forming work in the life of the seeker.
The kneeling professor, just a few feet away, was not lifting his voice with volume, but audibly enough that anyone close to him could hear. In my memory, no one else was likely tuned in. Only me.
Something about what he was saying caught my attention. Something was happening; apparently something significant in the relationship with His Father. His demeanor suggested focus, sincere expression, full-souled engagement. In addition to what he was saying, a notepad was in front of him on the altar. And I heard him: “Yes, Father, I see that. I will do it.” He wrote on the pad. Then again: “Yes, Lord, I see that. I will take care of it.” And he wrote again. Hmm . . .
My mind and heart were taken with this professor’s expressions and his writing. From what I observed, I took him to be an authentic devoted Christ-follower. On that day in the chapel, my sense was that His relationship with God was founded in profound respect; that the disposition and ethos of his life was “He is Sovereign, Creator, Redeemer; I am created, subject to His sovereignty. He is Maker, I am the made. He created and owns all . . . He owns me as well—all that I am, all that I have, and this incredible earth gift He has granted.
What’s the spirit of our age?
“Where is the spirit of desiring God, of longing to know Him deeply, of seeking how I may know Him closely, dearly, intimately?” my wife asked recently.
Where has that spirit gone? I knew as she asked it that she still respects persons of deep faith. We have friends who represent to us Christlikeness, whose lives have clearly been transformed out from the ways of the evil one, who are characterized on the positive side by the very attitude and disposition she described in her question. They are persons who are into the holy Scriptures for faith and character formation. They are characterized by a profound respect for the Holy One. Their lives are an open “Yes!” to the will and guidance of the Creator-Redeemer. They are those who delight in worshiping their Lord as Maker and Master. They are those who bask in times of His felt, manifest presence. They are those who know their Master so intimately that when they reach the end of their earthly pilgrimage, they will step seamlessly across the threshold into “the next chapter”.
But as I pondered my wife’s question, I think she is sensing a pervasive sense that is expressed in some measure in some persons in the community of faith who seem more nonchalant, with a kind of ‘take it, or leave it’ attitude. A lack of highest respect for the holy Scriptures as God’s authoritative guide for salvation, for spiritual formation, and for the navigation of a life of holy wholeness. I think she may have been thinking of those persons who seem to manifest little passion for drawing close to the heart of God, for seeking and knowing Him as Creator-Redeemer-Master. Likely no “giving their all” to God.
There seem to be those who are content with “the good things of life”, living them up without a deep regard for the Grantor of all good things. Today’s technology along with “the cares of life” (Matt. 13:22) appear to take front and center. God is an asset who is OK. Certainly when He is needed, He’s wanted–just right there at the other end of the phone line, as it were—when trouble or deep difficulty comes. In those times, He is the ace to pull the callers out of trouble and back to the life that is “normal”. Then life is back to the same perspective, the same ethos. (I’m thinking it may have been interesting to the Creator the short spike in church attendance the early weeks following the catastrophe of September 11, 2001. Hmm . . . )
Is this spirit that seems to vie for eminence in the community of faith a carryover from the pervading post-Christian spirit in major sectors of today’s Western society?
In a recent year, in a country of western Europe, a national of that country shared with me. He said if you ask the average person on the street in the city if that person believes in God, a huge number would say “yes”. But many of them simply don’t need God. They do not read the Scriptures, they do not attend church. And they are not leading, nor concerned, to lead their children and grandchildren in that kind of life. They are quite into sports and other aspects of “the good life”; they just don’t need God. Hmm . . . that nation had possessed a major Christian heritage and for an era of its history had spread that influence in numerous other parts of the world.
Perhaps we might ask another question, particularly as another major world religion is today significantly on the rise in that country: To what extent did the Christian church fail to seek the divine Head of the Church for continued renewal and revival? To what extent may the failure of the church be attributed to the spread of the “no need for God” life and to the spread of other religions?
With this question, I search my own heart.
Father, grant me the spirit of the professor I observed those years ago! It seems to me that such a posture of humble submission and of ready obedience opens the door to Your shalom Kingdom—and, yes, allows You to advance it!
May Your Kingdom come, Your will be done in and through my life, here, on earth, as it is being fulfilled in heaven. Amen.