Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Seeking God's Face

It is the love of God experienced in the body of Christ that truly marks Christians as truly unique. It is the wonder of a group of persons who find acceptance with one another despite their differences, shortcomings, and failures that truly marks the church as different from other groups of people in this world. So, we are “holy,” that is, set apart, not by anything that makes us better or superior to anyone else. Rather, we are “holy,” because we are literally carriers (vessels) of the love of God, called to share this “treasure” (as St. Paul calls it) with everyone.

However, we can only carry God’s love to others when we ourselves are in a love relationship with God. Yet, our hearts are indeed restless (as St. Augustine reminds us), and they are prone to wane in passion for God as we wrestle with our affections for the attractions of this world. So it is clear that we need brand new hearts, hearts that can “rest” in God. The prophet Ezekiel states this picturesquely when he proclaims, “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19). Only God can give us the kind of love needed to desire God, and here this kind of love is described as an “undivided heart” and as a “heart of flesh.” This is not any kind of human love. It is the work of God in us. It is God’s doing entirely!

So this is why St. Augustine says, “our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they find their rest in You.” All other objects of our affection are for the satisfaction of our own desires, so they just make our hearts “harder” and more “divided,” like crushed stone. When God is our desire, our hearts are transformed into something real, something living, something whole — something from God. This is why only with our hearts can we believe, because a heart in love with God is God’s gift of being made right with Him. As the Apostle Paul proclaims in his letter to the Romans, “…with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness…(Romans 10:10).

How, then, do we love God with a steadfast love, an “undivided heart,” a “heart of flesh?” Do we strive in Herculean spiritual effort to produce this love? Do we immerse ourselves in deep theological studies? Do we give ourselves in great sacrificial service to others? No, we cast ourselves upon God’s Word, trusting God with our lives. “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart” (Deuteronomy 30:14). God’s promises are sure, and it is through trusting God’s Word that we “may love Him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live” (Deuteronomy 30:6)!

In Christ’s Peace,