What does it mean to seek God?
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus tells the assembled crowd of seekers, But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (NIV) He was speaking about the things we normally seek—a nice house, a good job, stuff, fun, good health, a wonderful little restaurant that no one else has discovered yet—and he reminds us seekers that our priorities are wrong. If we seek God first, everything else falls into place.
Later, lamenting the generally dismal state of human affairs, Paul quotes the Psalms when he says: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. —Romans 3:10,11, NIV
Is it just me, or does that seem a bit strong? Maybe Paul hadn’t had his coffee yet? “No one seeks God”?! Should I feel insulted?
I stumbled on a nicely-written essay on that subject by Rebecca that she calls
Whole Lotta Seekin’ Goin’ On? Rebecca says that even our God seeking turns out to be God avoidance, and I think she has a point. Not that it’s pointless to seek God, but that we give ourselves too much credit at times. We don’t yearn for God; we don’t seek him with all of our hearts, and all of our minds, and all of our souls.
If you haven’t read it yet, my friend Bruce’s essay on this site, In Gratitude for Swallowtails, considers some of the same questions Rebecca is asking.
I suppose it’s like this: when I was learning pole-vaulting in junior high school, with an aluminum pole, no less, I was always pretty satisfied that I’d managed to get over the bar at all. The pole would hit the socket and the shock would reverberate up through my hands and I would swing myself up and twist and turn and shove the pole back while falling just right on the other side—there was a whole lot of hard work goin’ on. My goal was just to get over the bar.
But the coach… He always thought I could go higher. Lots higher.
I appreciate your posting, which I happened upon. How do you respond to the Apostle Paul’s suffering (Phil. 3:8) or passages such as Acts 9:15-16, Luke 9:23-24, Col. 1:24, Matt. 5:11-12 which do not promise a life of health and prosperity as a result of seeking God? Consider also 2 Cor. 12:7-10. Perhaps Luke 12 provides additional insight into what “treasure” will be added.
I’m in agreement with you, and I am definitely not saying that when we seek God, he rewards us with all sorts of wonderful things. Rather, I was merely contrasting the place where our hearts are normally inclined to go, to the material goodies of life, and observing that those things manage to distract us from what really satisfies, God himself.
And the point of Rebecca’s article is that what we call seeking and what God expects of us are very different things indeed.
James 1:2-4 says that suffering and trials are to be expected in our walk with God because they serve a godly purpose, that of transforming us into the people God intended us to be and toughening us up for carrying out his work.
Peter 1:5-7 says the same thing: suffering refines us by fire in a manner similar to what we do to gold to purify it. He also says in 1 Peter 3:17,18 that if it is God’s will that we suffer, we will be in good company, for as we know Christ, the just suffered unjustly so that we might secure the blessings of salvation.
Thanks for your comments, Tim.
I think it is another proof of Gods incredible love for us that even when we are not really seeking after him, he sometimes blesses us with our desires and more.
I just spent the weekend on the beaches of Portugal with four other students (I am studying in Spain this semester), and God poured blessings on us every day of that trip.
We visited three beaches all with different personalities but all incredible. The first was a cove where we ended as the last ones there playing ultimate frisbee, watching a “private” airshow, and seeing a beautiful sunset. The second was a beach to learn to surf with a big beach to play on and facing the west coast, which made for an even more incredible sunset and ended with starwatching. The third was rockier and started with a low tide so we were able to go through the tide pools and find all sorts of sea creatures. We finished that day on the southwest point of Portugal, and watched the sunset from “the edge of the world.”
I havent been making God my first priority every day like I should, but for some reason he decided to bless me anyway. And for that I have to give him all my praise.