The Pursuit of God . . the Pursuit of us

In 1948 A.W. Tozer wrote The Pursuit of God.  In 1950, he wrote a sequel called The Divine Conquest, now renamed The Pursuit of Man.

The pursuit of God . . the pursuit of man . . both?

Everything since sin has been imbalanced within us, and our perception of our most important relationship, that with God, has, too.  It seems to me that there are two “sides” which Christ followers–I include myself in them–tend to “pull for”, in a grand tug-of-war for rights: the pursuit of God, or the pursuit of man.

While not normally called by A.W. Tozer’s titles, I think they might be the most accurate terms I’ve heard.

Some believers focus on the pursuit of God.  They talk about our willingness to follow Him, our sanctification process, and our part in receiving salvation as a free gift.  They talk more about God’s grief over our sin, and how He longs for us to seek after Him.  If not careful, these believers stray into self-importance, concentrating on works, ‘weakening’ their perception of God’s authority and power, and/or legalism.

Other believers focus on the pursuit of man.  They talk about God’s selection of humanity, our justification process, and God’s election in giving us salvation as a free gift.  They talk more about God’s wrath over our sin, and how we are helpless without Him.  If not careful, these believers stray into self-worthlessness, concentrating on no-works, ‘weakening’ their perception of man’s choice and value to God, and/or determinism.

But why can’t there be two books: The Pursuit of God and The Pursuit of Man?

Here is little me, talking about an intensely debated and highly sensitive topic.  And here’s the reality.  I can’t possibly tackle this subject from an intellectual level that would impress anyone who’s really studied the issue, or philosophically in a way that would win the applause of the scholars.  In fact, I can’t even convince you to keep reading.  You may already have clicked out and I’m talking to myself.  😉

But the gift I do have from God is to be able to think in metaphors.  Earlier the metaphor of romance came to my mind when I was thinking about the pursuit of God and the pursuit of man.

–I love when Ben pursues me.  I want him to come to where I am.  The first time we saw each other after we met in Guatemala was in my hometown.  He drove the 17-plus hours from Pennsylvania to Missouri for a girl who couldn’t even spell Pennsylvania.  He came in my classroom at school after my students had gone, roses in hand, and I hopped in his arms.  He told me he loved me for the first time face-to-face and he gave me a pin that said God is writing my love story.

In our romance, from the point Ben called me on the phone to tell me he wanted to pursue me, he has been in pursuit of me.  From cutting his hair for me . . to giving up most of his free time to talk to me or write me cards or facebook me . . to paying for the expenses of traveling, hotels, meals for both of us, and bouquets . . to letting me eat more than half of the Belgian chocolate powdered sugar waffle . . Ben has been in pursuit of me.  He has been in such intense pursuit of me, in fact, that I have been shocked.  I have never had this effect on men before.  Apparently, he is the one.  😉

Now, all of what I’ve said is true, but it’s not the whole story.  If it was, I guess Ben could be accused of stalking me or at least harassing me.  If Ben had been in pursuit of me, and I was trying to run away from him, it would be no love story.

But, of course, that’s not how it is.  The rest of the story is, I have been pursuing him, too.  Not nearly so hard or so well–I don’t think I am selfless enough to go through the kind of patient pursuit he went through–but I have been pursuing him.  I haven’t bought him flowers, of course, or drove 17 1/2 hours to see him (that could be a disaster), but I have pursued him.

When he opens his arms to me, I wrap my arms around him.  When he reaches for my hand, I take his.  When he puts his arm around my shoulder, I lean into his chest.  When he tells me he loves me, I tell him I love him back.  When he does something kind for me, I often try to think of something kind I could do back for him, not out of dread or duty, but out of outbursts of zeal!

Trying to tell the story of a romance from only one side just doesn’t work.  I wouldn’t want to hear a fairy tale about Cinderella and the prince who didn’t bother to pick up her glass slipper from the stairwell of the royal ballroom.  Or a fairy tale about a prince who kissed Snow White awake from her deep sleep, and when she awoke she refused to go with him to his castle.

God really is in pursuit of us.  He loves us.  He will try the slipper on the foot of anyone willing, and He finds in that person the one who He wants to save.  And He Himself came down to us to wake us from the poisonous apple of death and lead us to His eternal Kingdom.

When we believe in Him, we are really in pursuit of Him, too.  Our pursuit certainly doesn’t match His.  We can’t compare the entire sum total of our devotion to even just one of the infinite addends of His devotion.  He has all the perfect gifts to give; we stand naked before Him with nothing but our sin to bring.  Yet He takes our sin away, and He clothes us in His perfection and lays gifts in our hands, that we may have something to give back to Him.

Pursuit of man?  He made the first move.  He gave us the privilege of full pursuit when He sent His Son to redeem us and bring us back to Him.

Pursuit of God?  Yes, that too.  He does not romance us by domination or violence.  He gave us the privilege of pursuing us, and with that pursuit comes choice on both sides.  He’s made His choice; now it’s only our choice that separates us from friendship with God.

God took the costliest risk of all time for us.  He offers us His forgiveness, righteousness, and love, but He does not force it upon us.  We can answer back with refusal, which He will not overrule, or we can answer back with our pursuit of Him.

He gives us presents of mercy, kindness, loyalty, patience, forgiveness, and so on, more than we could ever need, so that we can worship Him and hand some of the gift on to others.  Our worship of Him and our handing the gifts He gives us to others is what He receives from us as ‘gifts’.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23:6, NLT)

. . let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (Romans 14:19, b, ESV)


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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I feel so extremely loved! Opening your card and then reading this yesterday was overwhelming! (Sorry it took me a while to have time to finish this reply).

    Every relationship must go two ways, otherwise it’s not really a relationship. Even that between a pathetic sinner and an infinitely holy God. In Mere Christianity, Lewis shares a tale of a little boy who asks his father for six pence to get him a gift. The father gives him the money, and is very happy when he receives a gift from his son. But what did he really receive? It was bought with his own money. The gift did not increase his wealth, or really provide him with anything. And yet it did. And so it is with God. All we can give to Him is what He’s given us (and usually in a much worse condition than when He gave it). And yet He loves to receive gifts from us.

    As always, it is quite an honor when you compare any part of me or our relationship to anything involving God. I’m very moved by this. These blogs are a part of your pursuit of God, but also your pursuit of me. I love you, Teej! I love you so much!!

    On Wed, May 8, 2013 at 10:58 PM, gracestories

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