Noticing God in more places than I used to…
A couple of things have been changing in my thinking about God. First, I’m noticing him in more places than I used to. I’m used to seeing him in the Bible, in other people (mostly Christians), in my experiences in the Spirit, in the Church, in sunsets, and such places. But I’m starting to think he plants ideas about himself in more fields than I had previously thought. And then I’m becoming more aware of his passionate pursuit of people through those ideas that he’s sowing throughout the world. I just don’t believe that God is sitting on his hands, waiting for someone to volunteer to be a missionary! He is already at work in every heart in every place before anyone ever goes there to tell them about Jesus. Yeah, he’s patient but I don’t think he’s at all passive. God is the ultimate missionary. He’s more obsessed about bringing his children back home than we are in trying to convince them to do so; and he does something about his “obsession.”
When I look back to the time when I found Jesus, it is crystal clear to me now that he actually found me. He’d been following me around all my life, and I finally looked over my shoulder and noticed him. The day I asked Jesus to save me, it was much more because he was drawing me to himself than because the preacher said I should.
I point this out because I think that many of us hold to the less than worthy idea that God finished his outreaching when he sent Jesus to pay for our sins, and that now he sort of sits back and waits for people to take advantage of it or not. He completed the active part of saving us, but now he’s more passive as he waits for people to believe. I never thought of him as apathetic so much, but primarily sympathetic as he patiently waits for people to receive the gift he offers. But I’m beginning to see things a little differently now. I envision him in an unrelenting search for the people he loves. I think he’s as relentless in his quest for people to enjoy his redemption as he was eager to send the Redeemer in the first place.
I have ongoing conversations with a couple of friends of mine: Bazim, a young Iranian man with whom I’ve recently made an acquaintance, and Steve, a young guy who became a Christian about a year ago. When I first brought up the subject of Jesus to him, Bazim said to me, “I love Jesus.” He wouldn’t consider himself a Christian yet (and neither would I), but everything that he knows about Jesus has led him to the conclusion that he was (or is) a very good man; so good, that he felt he could say that he “loved” him. Granted, the kind of “love” to which he was referring seems to be more of a fondness for the kind of life Jesus lived than the faith-filled love of a disciple. Bazim is not a Muslim nor does he have the slightest inclination for any “organized religion” (if people only knew how “disorganized” we Christians are), but he claims to have a “love” for Jesus, at least in as much as he knows about him. Where did he get this affection?
Steve has a love for Jesus also, but he is what we might say, further along in his revelation of him, and he loves the Lord in a much more personal way. Steve met Jesus when he O.D.’d on a dozen hits of ecstasy and a preposterous amount of nitrous oxide (these are street drugs, these amounts of which would’ve killed him had God not intervened and saved his life at the same time he saved his soul!) God turned the volume all the way up in Steve’s spirit and spoke audibly to him while he was stoned out of his mind. He became an avid follower of Jesus that day and hasn’t looked back since!
So, I’ve been thinking about God and the ways he reveals himself to his lost and confused people, how resilient he is to our rejections, and how relentlessly he vies for our attention until he gets it one way or the other. I think he’s been this way from the beginning. Even though he’s wrapped in mystery and sometimes “hides in darkness,” he is a God whose personality it is to reveal himself to the people he loves. To put it more bluntly, he’s “after people” all the time! Some people talk about “chasing after God” (and their point is well taken to mean that we should be pursuing him with all our hearts), but I’m talking about him chasing us, especially the lost ones of us.
I’d like to share here about what God has been showing me lately about how wide is his mercy and how stubborn is his love. He’s all about convincing people that he exists and that he wants a friendship with us. Since learning some of these things I’ve had more faith for my friends like Bazim to become full-on followers of Jesus and for more people like Steve to get born-again while hallucinating on lethal doses of drugs (or whatever the sources of their God-denying hallucinations). He’s relentless about revealing himself to Iranians, druggees, and pretty much everyone on the planet. Rather than passively sitting back hoping that the world will believe; he’s on a persistent quest to bring people back into friendship with himself.
I’d like to show you how generous God is in the distribution of revelation about himself. My purpose is to stimulate your thinking about this passionate pursuer of people and encourage your faith that wherever you live and wherever you go, he’s gone before you to show himself to people. And though you play an important part in his plan to make friends for God, you’re not alone in this pursuit. He’s a Relentless Redeemer.