Sunday, June 26, 2011

Why Is God So Hard to Find? (Part 2)

Continuing what I started in the last post, here are two more possible reasons God may seem distant or absent when He really is trying to help us:

3. It may be that we've started taking God for granted. Perhaps we've stopped putting the highest priority on seeking Him. We aren't rebelling against Him or living a double life, but we've just begun to be a bit casual about our spiritual life. We don't really feel like we need to read the Bible as often, or we let other things get in the way of church or fellowship much more than we used to. What can God do but remind us how much we need Him? If we've started to take the ability to draw water from the well for granted, then not being able to get it when we want it will restore our appreciation for how important it is in a hurry. If you have to dig down deep and toil to get the water flowing again, you will not soon take it for granted.

As a severe example of this, I have been struck by how often this theme was demonstrated in the Old Testament. God warned Israel over and over that when things started going well for them and they were prospering, they would begin to forget Him. And that's just what happened. As long as Israel was comfortable, they would often grow careless in their relationship with God. But if they were in danger and suffering, they quickly remembered Him and called upon Him. The same is true for us. We have to remember that we always need to be in close intimacy with God, just as the branches depend completely upon the vine for life. (John 15:1-9.)

4. One more possible explanation is that we just haven't taken sin seriously enough or fully appreciated God's call to holiness. We may have turned our backs on some serious sins because of our faith, and we may be actively resisting temptation, but perhaps there are areas in our hearts that we haven't confronted completely. For example, we may have worked hard against greed or lust, but failed to address the underlying problem of self-pity. As we seek God and struggle to find that deep communion with Him again, He may reveal to us areas where we aren't taking His call to holiness as seriously as we should. Holiness is a lifelong pursuit, but the fact that we will not complete it until we leave this life behind should not discourage us from pursuing it diligently.

The Scripture reminds us that we need to take this seriously every day: "But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today,' that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." (Hebrews 3:13.) Paul says: "Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God." (2 Corinthians 7:1.) And although we find it difficult now, a deep struggle for our relationship with God is often necessary to cause us to take the life of faith seriously: "Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God." (1 Peter 4:1-2.) At the end, that's what we want: to live for and be satisfied with God. And God will graciously spur us on in order to get us there.

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