Pursuing the Heart of God
Having worshipped in and pastored congregations large and small, I have noted that the core principles that mark a happy and loving congregation do not change. Deep in our hearts, there is a yearning for His glory and presence. Without spiritual intimacy, programmes, buildings and gatherings can all sound very hollow.
We were already duly warned in the letter to the angel of the Church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:4) that a church can “lose her first love.”
Prophet Isaiah put it more positively in Isaiah 40:31, “that they that wait upon the Lord shall mount up with wings like eagles…they will run and not be weary, walk and not faint.” To wait - as a servant would for his Master - is to be attentive to Him, to look to Him, to follow Him, to be submitted to Him. The church will not grow weary if she does that.
In our Communion Services, we recite Deuteronomy 6:5 or the Gospel call (Matthew 22:37) to love God with our whole being.
In Hebrews, to Christians, for whom the church assembly has become a wearisome (or even fearsome) thing, the writer urged in 12:1,2 to “run the race”, looking to Him who in the first place gave birth to the church and is perfecting her. It is another picture of pursuit. If we exclude Christ in the Church, the scene of Jesus knocking on our doors that He may sup with us (Rev 3:20) may well speak to us proverbially.
The wheels may still turn - and there are enough resources in Singapore to ensure that. If we are not absorbed by the love of God, we will be self-absorbed. When God is lost, man looms. Mix the hubris of man with religion and you have a combustive potential in the wrong direction. Men and women scurrying around - like little orphans - looking and competing for love while the Father’s embrace is ignored. Or demi-gods, seeking for adulation and worship.
In Question 2 in the Rule of St Basil, the inquirers ask: “For we have heard that He ought to be loved, what we want to learn is however, how this can be fulfilled.”
This short editorial offers no clear or simple answers. But like this ancient catechism, I urge us to start with the right question and the same concern. We may have missed the mark, the harmatia (Greek for “sin”) of it all. By the help of the Spirit, we need to retrace our steps and find our way again. It may be the heart-numbing effect of habitual sins, the tolling effects of suffering, the deceptive philosophy of secularism, the spirit of religiosity or the neglect of our walk with God. Unless we set our hearts to pursue Him, to wait upon Him, with all our being, we will be lost.
It is often said that seeking after God (i.e. Jeremiah 29:13) is impossible for we cannot see Him. If only “He appears before me”, we wish. Yet, when it comes to the very tangible and daily presence of sentient beings such as our spouse, parents, children or our friends, we can fail repeatedly to love or pursue that commitment to do so.
It is not about what we can see. It is about the orientation of our hearts.
Like Peter in John 21, we need to be queried again by the One who loves us deeply - summarising the three questions into one - that we may know our own hearts.
“Do you really love Me?”