The God-chaser

The Bible introduces King David as a “man after God’s own heart.” We know the guy was far from perfect so what was the element that defined him in contrast to his predecessor, Saul, or his son-successor, Solomon? Someone described David as a God-chaser. I like that. I think such a description singularly defines a person after God’s own heart—someone who relentlessly pursues God in spite of being deeply flawed and broken.

While Saul was busy building a monument to himself (1 Samuel 15:12) and Solomon was focused on loving “many foreign women” and accommodating their gods (1 Kings 11:1-6), David was chasing after God. “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so my soul pants for you, O God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1, 2) “O God, you are my God; early will I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs for you in a dry and thirsty land.” (Psalm 63:11) “My soul languishes for your salvation; I wait for your word.” Psalm 119:81. “I stretch out my hands to You; my soul longs for You…” (Psalm 143:6)

David was hungry and thirsty for God; he sought after God; he had a passion for spiritual things. Though he was a sinner he was also a man of repentance who saw his sin as potentially separating from the God who was his very life. “Have mercy upon me, O God…blot out my transgressions…against you, and you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…I was brought forth in iniquity…create within my a new heart…cast me not away from your presence and do not take your Holy Spirit from me.” (Psalm 51:1-11)

Yes, David was a God-chaser and rightly called a “man after God’s own heart,” because he had a deep desire for God and doing the will of God. He was a shadow of another who would come to be known as the “son of David.” The Messiah, Jesus Christ, took what David imperfectly demonstrated and manifested those qualities to perfection. He relentlessly pursued God, his Father; his food was to do the will of the One who sent him; his entire purpose in life was to glorify his Father in heaven. Interestingly, we usually define the passion of Christ as his suffering and death, but his real passion was desiring to do the will of God more than he wanted to escape his pain.

I want to be like Jesus, but David shows me that it is possible to be a God-chaser inspite of my sin. David gives me hope that, though deeply flawed, I can be a man after God’s own heart!

A World Split Apart…

A world split apartLast week I mentioned that on June 8, 1978, a Nobel Prize winning author stood before Harvard’s graduating class and gave a speech that both offended and fascinated our nation. Alexander Solzhenitsyn was a Soviet Army veteran arrested in February 1945 for speaking against Joseph Stalin in a letter to a friend. He spent the next eight years in prison in the Gulag, eventually being transferred to a camp for political prisoners. It was out of this experience that Solzhenitsyn wrote his first novel, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

The Harvard speech was complex and somewhat disorganized, but Solzhenitsyn delivered it with conviction born out of his suffering. His listeners are now in their upper 50’s and have become some of the leading intellectuals, elites, and journalist of our day. I wonder if they listened? After laying the foundation that the world is perilously “split” culturally, economically, and philosophically, Solzhenitsyn offered five broad propositions.

1. Americans’ beloved “pursuit of happiness” is denigrated into a self-consumed, self-interested pursuit of materialism, which has serious consequences for the health and stability of the United States—especially since we’ve grown more litigious and misuse the legal system as the only means to solve social and personal problems.

2. Journalistic standards in the United States are morally bankrupt because it trivializes important events and people, shamelessly invades privacy, refuses to acknowledge errors in judgment, and has built up a comfortable collusion to prevent new views from reaching the marketplace of ideas. The press can both simulate public opinion and miseducate it. Thus, we may see terrorists described as heroes, or secret matters pertaining to one’s nation’s defense publicly revealed, or we may witness shameless intrusion on the privacy of well-known people under the slogan: “Everyone is entitled to know everything.” But this is a false slogan, characteristic of a false era. People also have the right not to know and it’s a much more valuable one. The right not to have their divine souls [stuffed with gossip, nonsense, vain talk.]

3. Intellectuals in the West continue to be enamored with the ideas of socialism, even though citizens of such regimes have repudiated its utopian illusion. The well-known Soviet mathematician Shafarevich, a member of the Soviet Academy of Science, has written a brilliant book under the title Socialism; it is a profound analysis showing that socialism of any type and shade leads to a total destruction of the human spirit and to a leveling of mankind into death.

4. Americans’ treasured ideas of freedom are corrupted because there is no longer a belief in the existence of evil, leaving us defenseless against the evil of pornography and crime, and the very real possibility of our civilization’s destruction. As long as we wake up every morning under a peaceful sun, we have to lead an everyday life. There is a disaster, however, which has already been under way for quite some time. I am referring to the calamity of a despiritualized and irreligious humanistic consciousness. We have placed too much hope in political and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life.

5. The foundational reason for humankind’s woes and the West’s current weakness is the Enlightenment philosophy that we are independent from God and accountable only to ourselves, which has left us spiritually depleted and morally anemic. Taken together, these propositions add up to a major crisis for the human race. So what does Solzhenitsyn propose we do to avoid a catastrophe? We must cease from the deception that evil doesn’t exist. The dividing line separating it and goodness runs through every human heart. We must stir up our courage and resist evil wherever we find it, even if it means fighting it to the death. Finally, we must acknowledge God’s sovereignty over His creation, including us. No one on earth has any other way left but—upward.

Christopher Lasch, in his Culture of Narcissism suggests that our American culture is headed either for a totalitarian dictatorship or a spiritual awakening. Let’s pray for the latter.

(Elements of this summary are from a WordPress blog by D. Jeter 2007)

Are You a Neophyliac?

Do you realize that the majority of us are “neophyliacs” (lovers of the new)? Maybe we are not the hardcore type that stand in line overnight to buy the latest gizzmo, but we love new things; new clothes, new cars, new relationships, new jobs, new churches… “Not me,” you say, “I always go to next-to-new shops for clothes and I always buy used cars. That’s terrific, but even these things are “new” in the sense that they are different from what you have.  Human nature is never satisfied, it always wants more; that is why we are such consumers and why we have a throw-away culture. We get tired of something because it no longer satisfies us, so we throw it away thinking we can find something new that does. We do this with our marriages; we do this with our churches and our worship, as well as our possessions. We “shop till we drop” not because we need anything, but because we have a craving in our hearts and we think that buying something will satisfy it. We “church hop” because we have a Continue reading “Are You a Neophyliac?”