Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah -- Psalm 24:6[I]t is evident that man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he [has] previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself. For (such is our innate pride) we always seem to ourselves just, and upright, and wise, and holy, until we are convinced, by clear evidence, of our injustice, vileness, folly, and impurity. Convinced, however, we are not, if we look to ourselves only, and not to the Lord also —He being the only standard by the application of which this conviction can be produced. For, since we are all naturally prone to hypocrisy, any empty semblance of righteousness is quite enough to satisfy us instead of righteousness itself. And since nothing appears within us or around us that is not tainted with very great impurity, so long as we keep our mind within the confines of human pollution, anything which is in some small degree less defiled delights us as if it were most pure just as an eye, to which nothing but black had been previously presented, deems an object of a whitish, or even of a brownish hue, to be perfectly white. – John Calvin, Institutes, Book One, Chapter 1
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
It's a little known fact among Star Wars insiders that Yoda learned English from reading a translation of The Institutes of the Christian Religion: Convinced, however, we are not.
We will never know ourselves until we know God. We are not going to find the answer to who we are and why we are here by following the crowd. Our parents may not be able to help us. Education seems unlikely to enlighten us. Sometimes, though, God does put someone in authority over us – father, mother, a teacher, coach, scout leader, or a pastor – to give us a word and direction from Him. We would probably see it more if we were more open to the idea of the one-story universe, as expressed so well by Father Stephen.
The mistake I have often made – and it’s not that I made it more early in my walk, I’m still doing it – is to seek the Lord primarily through the written revelation of the Bible. For me, personally, studying the Bible is something I depend on to keep me more in tune -- poor instrument that I am. While reading the Bible may be the best way for a lot of us to seek and to know Christ, it's not the only way to see Him.
Prayer is another vital discipline in our search. Some of our time in prayer should be given over to listening rather than speaking. I sometimes get the feeling that God would like for me to shut up long enough for Him to answer one or two of my many questions, complaints and rants.
We might expect to hear from the Lord in the priest’s homily or the teacher’s lesson, but we might be more surprised to find Him in a poem, a piece of music, a work of art, a scene in a movie, a science fiction novel, or some vista of nature. My cousin’s late wife loved going to the Grand Canyon. For her -- a simple, devout country Baptist woman, it revealed a facet of the Divine she didn’t often catch in her pastor’s Sunday sermons.
God may disclose Himself to us in what some might consider the unlikeliest of ways. I am convinced that He may be seen through the creatures He gives into our care. I know we can see Him through our relationships, through achievements, failures, challenges, and trials in our lives, through the things we gain and the things we lose, through our hopes, dreams, desires, likes, and dislikes. There is one thing we may be sure of, when we seek the Lord, He has promised that we will find Him. You came near when I called on you; you said, Do not fear! (Lamentations 3:57); Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you (James 4:8); Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart (Psalm 119:2).
In finding Him, I will find my true self and my true destiny. I know that I often reference this verse, but it so often seems to bear repeating, so, with a little emphasis: Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2).