Pursue God. Pursue Jesus. Pursue intimacy with God. Pursue righteousness.
All of these directives seem good and honorable, and they are taught as such. Many a pastor and Christian teacher has used them as mission statements and explanations of the “good Christian life.” We are taught that pursuing God is something we should always be doing.
Chase after Him. Look for Him. Be in pursuit of God. What you do when you find Him no one has quite figured out yet, but what everyone knows for sure is that we should be pursuing Him. Unfortunately, what that sounds like is that He's hiding away somewhere, tucked just out of sight, and waiting for the magical day when someone's worthy pursuit ends at the finish line of Him. If you listen to this message long enough you will eventually come to the conclusion that you will never get to the finish line (at least not in this life), but you must, by no means, ever never stop running. Keep doing. Keep working. Keep trying your hardest, putting forth your best efforts, and stretching your farthest towards godliness.
For all of humanity's existence we've been trying to claw our way up to God. We've built towers and constructed temples all under the banner of "pursuing God." The temptation of Adam was "God likeness." He pursued God to the point of his own death, sacrificing abundant life to gain it himself. Sounds like pursuit of God didn't work out so well for him?
What if all this time we've been pursuing God and missing the point all along? What if the Christian life is not about our pursuit of God but rather God's relentless pursuit of us?
Jesus was presented with the same temptation as Adam, but instead of pursuing God likeness he relinquished it to the point of His own death, sacrificing His life so that we could have it abundantly.
Maybe our problem is that we see Jesus as an example for us. We see him as a standard we should in some way model or live up to, and yet that was never his purpose on this earth. Jesus did not come to show us what we should try to be like. He came to show us EXACTLY what God is like. He came to set the record straight. He came to silence the very first lie that ever slipped off the tongue of the serpent, that God is distant and withholding, and show us exactly how excessive and gracious God really is. Jesus came to make an unfathomable God tangible. He came as a flesh and blood representation of God's stubborn delight in a people hell-bent on independence. What an audacious reality, that the God of the universe we try desperately to work our way towards, instead slips into the fragile skin of our humanity as if to say, "No, children, let me come to you."
Oh how generous and glorious a God! How inexpressibly thankful I am that He pursues me. Because, if I’m being honest, I’m much more likely to be found cowering in my nakedness behind some fig leaves than running after Him. Still, He comes, walking through the cool of the garden, to pull me close and silence my shame for He has never been scared away by sin. If I’m being honest, I’m much more likely to be a petulant and stubborn child of Israel who rather be oppressed once again under the shackles of Egypt than to trust God’s faithfulness to fight for me. And still He comes, parting the sea of my struggle and drowning my bondage in perfect love. If I’m honest, I’m much more likely to be an idol worshiping judge, a depressed king, or a doubting disciple than I am to be trusted champion of The Kingdom. And still He comes, calling me to care for His people.
So, I've come to the decision to stop pursing God and instead rest every day in the awareness of His pursuit of me. It’s time we all stopped running. It’s time we gave up on pursuing a God who is already closer even than the skin on our bones. It’s time we chose to stop pursuing God and rest in THE pursuing God.
May you come to know the reality of an intimate God that has pursued and embraced you.
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