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To see him

I realized the other day that I’ve spent a good amount of time, probably far too much time, praying about myself: praying that God would make me a better person. I see what I am like, repent of this, and I ask God to change it. This is all well and good, probably something I should be doing. Except that, so very often it does not work. So often, I do not find myself becoming a better person. And I think I know part of the reason for this. Maybe the whole reason. I ask with the wrong intentions. The reason is that I want to be good in order to feel good about myself, rather than to know God. And that, my friends, is the deepest, most entrenched sin in the human heart. Adam desired the knowledge of good and evil, yet hid himself from God.

Oh I have certainly asked: God show yourself to me, let me see you, so that I can worship you better, love you better. But notice the conditional: “so that I…” I want to have fellowship with God so that I can be a holy person; I want to know him because I have a desire to be the sort of person that knows him. Have I ever asked God to be present to me simply because I actually want to see him, simply because he is good and worth seeing, and not because of some result that it will produce in me? That is the fundamental question: do I, fundamentally, want to be a certain way or do I, fundamentally, want to know the presence of the living God? This is the question that the good news of Jesus addresses, the Jesus who says:

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

It is so subtle for us, so difficult for us to grasp, how being good does not make us right with God, but rather (and only) that being right with God, by beholding his precious Son, will make us good. And the point, really, is not to become good, but is to behold him, to know and accept him. I’ve heard a hundred sermons that make this point; I believe the entire sermon series at church right now, about the book of Galatians, is basically about this point. But it still escapes me. The beautiful thing is, though, that his mercy is still there, his mercy is ever new. The unconditional love of our great king really is unconditional; the only conditions are the ones we invent for ourselves–and when we do we cut ourselves off from being able to see what he is really like.

Jesus Christ is mercy incarnate, and love incarnate. It is a beautiful and awesome thing that we need do nothing; it is freedom to know that he has paid the way, that the journey is a free ride. We, who trust in Christ, need not worry about being good. Positively, please do not worry about that. In fact, do not worry about anything at all. Rather focus your gaze on our great King; he will take care of the rest.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. January 29, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    [True saints] first rejoice in God as glorious and excellent in himself, and then secondarily rejoice in it, that so glorious a God is theirs.

    — Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections

  2. janet thayer williams
    January 30, 2011 at 9:56 am

    And didn’t Solomon ask God for the gift of knowing right from wrong, which God granted him, and then he went on to become a flat out apostate anyway? I like to think he knew God, for all that. That was before Jesus made the scene, but still, when asked how to pray, Jesus’ instruction was to pray to “our Father”. Prayers, which are so personal, have been known to make it into the historical record!

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