Obviously, that question presupposes that a person is already seeking God, and many people certainly aren’t. For some, God is a figment of the imagination of those who believe He exists. I readily concede that in today’s world, eloquent apologetics is unlikely to sway anyone firmly ensconced in their belief that all that’s visible is all there is. So, these days I expend more energy praying that such people encounter the God of the Bible supernaturally rather than getting into debates, especially with anyone who claims to have figured life out without God. If what they’re doing works for them, what right do I have to object?
I also concede that some sincere seekers of God have been discouraged by Christians who have made it difficult to believe in the Jesus they profess through their words and deeds. It’s such a shame when that happens, and it saddens God’s heart too. As Christians, we ought to possess answers to an aching world, manifesting them through our lives as we demonstrate the all-surpassing greatness of God in everyday situations [2 Corinthians 4:7]. Sadly, rather than being the living epistles God has called us to be [2 Corinthians 3:2-3], many Christians tragically become stumbling blocks for those seeking God [Malachi 2:8, Matthew 23:13]. Jesus didn’t mince His words concerning those who cause others to stumble [Matthew 18:6]. We’d be wise to heed the warning.
There’s also a category of people who haven’t heard the Gospel. Many in this category are already seeking God just as they did in Paul’s day [Acts 17:16-20] and would accept and believe the Gospel if they heard it. Christians must always strive to reach this group because Jesus commanded us to do so [Matthew 28:18-20, Romans 10:11-17]. There are other categories, but this week, I’m writing more for people searching for God because they’re at a crossroads. They may be experiencing a trial, an absence of peace or contentment, or something similar. They’ve sought answers elsewhere and found nothing that satisfies them permanently. Some of these people grew up in a Church community, heard about God’s promises but never took them seriously until life backed them into a corner, and now, they need help and answers.
That last category is one I’m intimately familiar with because an absence of inner peace, security, and contentment despite a degree of success triggered my deeper search for God. I write as a pilgrim who’s on his way to the Celestial City. I’m not where I need to be yet, but I’m not where I used to be. However, it occurred to me recently that I’d never asked myself why I was seeking God. Scripture instructs us to seek God [Isaiah 55:6, Hebrews 11:6]. However, implicit in that charge is the necessity to pursue God with a righteous motive. It’s possible to seek God for the wrong reasons. Often, many of us seek God as leverage to get what we want. We’re more interested in what He can do for us than in serving His purposes.
In that regard, Jacob’s story at his crossroads is particularly instructive. Jacob had to run away because his brother wanted to kill him for stealing his blessing [Genesis 27:41]. God appeared to him on his journey and reaffirmed the same covenant He made with Abraham and Isaac, his father and grandfather [Genesis 28:10-19]. Then, God added the following promises: “Moreover, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.” God gave Jacob a cast-iron guarantee for the present and the future.
Bafflingly, Jacob responded to these promises by asking God to prove Himself to earn his allegiance. In effect, he said: If You fulfil my agenda, then You will be my God [Genesis 28:20-21]. Surprisingly, God didn’t chastise Jacob for asking Him to earn his trust. How often do we do the same by asking God to prove Himself if He wants our allegiance? How often do we pursue God for power, money, miracles and so on but care little about getting to know Him or serving His purposes? God wants to give us every good gift [James 1:17]. So, desiring good things from God isn’t bad, but neither should they be our primary reason for seeking God. We don’t enjoy being used as props to fulfil others’ self-centred desires. So why would we do the same to God and seek Him primarily for what He can do for us?
While God doesn’t chastise us for seeking Him for self-centred reasons, like Jacob, we can’t remain there because we’ll never experience all God has in store for us if we’re only concerned with our desires. Instead, we can emulate Paul, who sought Jesus for the right reasons [Philippians 3:7-11]. Paul yearned to become intimately acquainted with his Saviour, and nothing else mattered. Unsurprisingly, God fulfilled his desire and gave him peace, contentment and much more. As a result, even as he faced persecution and death, Paul could testify boldly: “… I know whom I have believed…and I am persuaded…” [2 Timothy 1:12].
So, why do you seek God? Is it primarily for self-centred reasons, or do you want to know this awesome God who sustains the universe He created by His word [Hebrews 1:2-3], yet out of love, died for you so that you could have an eternal relationship with Him [John 3:16]? More than wanting to meet our needs, God wants to give us Himself. It takes revelation to truly discern His will and wisdom to pursue it above all else. Mercifully, we can ask for both [Ephesians 1:17].