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Saturday, 28 August 2010

Seeking God?

Probably the best-known quotation from the Early Church Father, Augustine, is found in the first paragraph of the first chapter of the first book of his Confessions. It reads (in translation): "Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless 'til they find their rest in Thee". More recently, the French philosopher/theologian/mathematician Blaise Pascal wrote: "There is a God-shaped hole in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator." And, to bring it right up-to-date, someone put it that "There's a God-shaped blank in every heart, that only God can fill".

So, is there a restlessness - a seeking after God - deep in the human heart? If so, where does it originate? Humankind, as we know it, is referred to by anthropologists and evolutionists as Homo Sapiens - 'wise' man, or 'knowing' man. Mind you, as I look at the destruction of the planet; at the breakdown in social relationships - especially in terms of marriage and the family; at the continuing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; at the ever-growing abuse of substances that people know to be harmful, if not fatal; the increase in terrorism, and criminal activity - especially in crimes of violence; I really do wonder why we should be so named! But that's the official terminology, used in the best text-books and encyclopaediae.

Yet even the modern scene does suggest that, whether or not some would wish to admit it, we are Homo Religiosis - religious man. The prevalence of scientific humanism, and selfish materialism, that has pervaded so much of modern society - at least in the so-called 'developed west' - has not diminished a longing for God. Indeed, if anything, it has increased it. People will always end up paying a price - for some, a very heavy price - when the religious drive within them is stifled, or frustrated. And in the crazy pot-pourri of cults; New Age movements; new religions; and even the Goth sub-culture apparently still loved by many young, and not-so-young, people; we may see evidence of a hunger and thirst for God that such dear people don't even recognise.

But, whether we recognise it, or not, we human beings do have a yearning to know that which is, in fact, beyond our understanding. Religion may be defined as society's attempt to formulate its beliefs about that 'higher power', and practices for relating to that same power. This, of course, is where the disciple of Jesus refers to 'faith' rather than religion. The Christian faith speaks of a God Who is Holy (that means different from all that He has created), and Who cannot even look upon the sinfulness of the pinnacle of His creation. But it also speaks of a God Who is Love, and Who longs to see the relationship with humankind restored. In order to be true to both His love, and His holiness, He had to become one of us - in the Persona of the Son (and that isn't a typo - go to my audio blog and listen to the message on The Trinity, and all will be made clear!) - and, in love, pay the penalty that His holiness required.

Now, obviously, one cannot share the fullness of the Gospel in a couple of sentences, and what I have just written is very much simplified. But, if anyone wants to know more, then please leave a comment - which will not be published - with an e-mail address, and I will happily endeavour to answer your question(s), and provide any other help that I am able to provide. However, the bottom line is probably those words from the New Testament that have been heard by many, even if they couldn't give the reference: "God loved (and loves) the world (that includes you!) so much that, in the Persona of the Son, He entered the time-space continuum that He had created, and permitted humankind to nail His human body to a cross, and lay it in a tomb, from which He arose, victorious over sin, and death, and hell; so that anyone (that still includes you!) who confesses their sin, and accepts His offer of full and free salvation, acknowledging Him as Saviour and Lord, may have, here and now, His life within them." Okay, that's very much an expanded paraphrase of John 3:16 - but I hope that it helps to make it more clear.

Seeking God? He's already seeking you - and is always willing to meet you more than half-way! Now that has just got to be "Good News"!

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