[Continued from Last Issue.]

How are we to seek God?
We are to seek God knowing that, primarily it is God who seeks. God is the reason why we seek at all. It is in the nature of God to seek. That is because God is love; and love seeks. Love cannot but seek, especially in a context of lostness, or alienation. Alienation is the ultimate enemy and agony of love. The quintessential need and mission of love is to overcome alienation. This is the essence of spiritual mission. The way of Jesus is necessarily the way of mission, because he came as Emmanuel, which means God with us. The mission of Emmanuel is to overcome alienation. Every initiative that seeks to overcome alienation and to promote unity or fellowship is from God. To seek is to take initiative. Biblically, it is God who takes the initiative to overcome alienation. God sought after Adam and Eve (Gen.3:9). God continues to seek the lost (Ezek. 34:12-16; Gen 3:9; Luke 15; 19:10). It is not that we seek God. God seeks us; first. God seeks us to restore us to authentic humanity. Godliness is the essence of that humanity. Seeking is basic to that essence. So we must seek too. God's seeking reciprocated by us in freedom is captured in the image of Jesus abiding in us and our abiding in Him (John 15:4). Seeking is a pre-condition for such abiding. God-humankind relationship is predicated on mutual seeking. When we seek and respond to God who seeks us, we feel empowered and challenged to seek each other in love.

This is what marks Kingdom relationship. The Good News is that God seeks. That is the foundation of our hope. But hope is not the finishing line, but the steady flow of energy that sustains the race. We have to respond in seeking and meet a seeking God. A God, who seeks, unlike an idol, can be met only seekingly. But God's seeking is not exactly like our seeking. God seeks us because He is complete. It is only the Complete that knows the poverty of the parts and can atone for their misery. Only the Complete can meet and engage the parts, without taking on their nature. Being parts, must seek the Whole. Wholeness, or healing, results from seeking the Whole. Part seeking a part, in isolation from the Whole, is a recipe for restlessness. It is perforce unwholesome.

Seeking is, thus, basic to every aspect of spirituality. To pray is to seek. Or praying in the name of Jesus necessirily involves seeking (Matthew 7:7; Daniel 9:3). Mission is seeking the Kingdom of God and His justice (Matthew 6:33). We are required to seek fullness of life, Jesus being the way to that fullness (John 10:10; 4:6).

What does it mean to seek the Lord?
Having glimpsed the significance of seeking the Lord for our spiritual wholeness, let us ask: how are we to seek Him? Some salient features of the discipline thereof are noted below:

  • We must ensure that it is the Lord we are from Him (John 6:26). Those who partook of the multiplied loaves, sought after Jesus. He saw through their facade. He knew they were seeking more bread and not either Him or the Will of God, in coming after Him. Seek the Lord, and make sure that it is the Lord, and not some petty gains that you seek. Some of the things people seek:

  • The Greeks seek after wisdom (1 Cor. 1:22). Wisdom is to be sought in preference over everything else in this world. But God must be higher priority. God is the giver of all wisdom.

  • Material benefits and advantages. In 2 Cor. 12:14, Paul clarifies that in ministering to the believers in Corinth, he was seeking them and not their possessions, unlike many others in the sphere of religion. We must ask as to why those who claim to be the followers of Jesus, who did not have anywhere to lay his head (Luke 9:58), are at the beck and call of the rich and the mighty. We have a 'preferential option' is for the rich in church life, as such.

  • Unless redeemed and set free by the power of God, all human beings are essentially self-seeking. (Phil 2:21)

  • The logic of sin is that it makes us seek death rather than life (Matthew 7:13-14; Deut. 30:19-20; Rev. 9:6).

    How are we to seek the Lord? Seek Him:

  • Daily (Isaiah 58:2). Jesus taught us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread. That daily bread includes not only food for our stomach, but also the spiritual vitality to live life in its fullness. Seeking God daily is vital to this.

  • Seek Him early. (Prov. 1:28; Ps 63:1) Seeking God must be a passion and a priority, not a mechanical obligation.

  • Seek diligently (Prov. 7:15). Diligence is called for in anything that relates to the depth of things. The language of the depth is the most difficult to cultivate. God, being Whole, is infinite depth as well. His ways are incomprehensible and His peace surpasses all understanding. Seeking such a God cannot be an impetuous and erratic activity.

  • Seek His face continuously (1 Chron. 16:11). Such seeking enables us to conform more and more to the nature of God. It makes us consistent in our faith and action (Luke 10:37). The goal of spirituality is to restore us to out authentic humanity (Matthew 5:13-16). This is possible only by reconciling us to God. In that state, we regain our lost kinship with the nature of God. For that, we need to seek God continually to be transformed daily.

  • Seek God with all your heart. (Deut 4:29). This is the essence of the First Commandment (Luke 10:27). God is the Absolute. The Absolute has to be sought absolutely. The Whole cannot be engaged with a part of a part. We are, as of now, only a part of our true being. Our heart is only a part of who we are. And to seek God with a part of that part is an insult to the majesty of God!

    How do we know that we are indeed seeking God?

    1. Something as profound a seeking the Lord cannot be vague state, devoid of any concrete outcome. As John the Baptist insists, repentance has to be authenticated by its fruits (Matthew 3:8). If indeed we seek the Lord, it will become evidence in a variety of ways.

    2. Those who seek the Lord will turn from their evil ways (2 Chron. 7:14). It cannot be that we seek the face of the Lord and also pursue evil at the same time; for God is not an idol.

    3. Those who seek the Lord will praise Him. Ps 22:26. To seek is to come closer. As we come closer and deepen our fellowship with the Lord we are overwhelmed by the joy of being in His presence and praising Him will become natural and spontaneous to us.

    4. Those who seek the Lord will become makers of peace. (Ps 22:26. The will of God is that all people enjoy fullness of life. Peace is pre-condition for that. Peace among men results from humankind being reconciled to God. In that state justice and peace will embrace each other (Ps. 85:10-13)

    5. They will seek God's righteousness (Zeph. 2:3; Matthew 6:33; Isaiah 51:1). God expressed, in respect of the whole of creation, also as justice. Isaiah points to God's keenness, to make justice available to gentiles. The justice of God, that transcends human understanding, was fully unveiled on the Cross of Calvary.

    6. They will seek higher things (Colossians 3:1). Seeking the Lord changes our tastes and priorities. Spiritually is deliverance, among other things, from what is low, mean and meaningless.

    It is not as a favor to God that we are to seek Him, but as a duty that we owe to ourselves. Not to seek the Lord is to exile ourselves from our true humanity, to fall short of our higher needs and to banish ourselves from blessings some of which are noted below.

  • God gives understanding to those who seek Him (Ps. 53:2). Correspondingly, an un-seeking attitude to God breeds spiritual foolishness. The Cross of Jesus exposes the cruelties and injustice latent in spiritual ignorance. Jesus knew that those who crucified them were the victims of ignorance, as is evident from His prayer for them.

  • Those who seek the Lord abide in Him. Being liberated thus, they live in freedom (Ps 119:45; John 8:36). The alternative is slavery. An approach to religion that excludes the spirituality of seeking the will of God becomes oppressive and exploitative. Seeking the will of God becomes oppressive and exploitative. Seeking to know and do the will of God is the prophetic principle of religious renewal.

  • To seek the Lord is to live in a state of contentment. (Ps. 23;1; Ps. 34:10) They shall lack nothing, which means, also, that they shall not lack contentment. Lacking this, even over-abundance need not breed contentment. Those who seek the Lord are free from petty worries about what they will eat, drink or wear (Matthew 6:25). They know they have a Father in heaven who cares for them and that His faithfulness is sufficient in all their needs.

  • They will not be lonely or forsaken. (Ps 9:10; Matthew 28:20). They will enjoy the blessings of a vibrant and empowering fellowship with God who never forsakes those who seek Him. They will experience continual renewal. (Jeremiah. 2:24). They will never turn weary, even when the ups and downs of life buffet them and the struggle of life prolong and hurts. Their relationship with God is a sure source of renewal and revitalization for them.

  • Those who seek the Lord are joyful (Ps. 70:4; 105:3). The birth of Jesus is "tiding of great joy" because it signals the beginning of a deeper fellowship with God, as a result of God coming in search of human beings. In Communion with God we feel joyful because in Him we are complete and joy is the hallmark of being whole.

  • Those who seek the Lord live in all its fullness (Amos 5:4; John 10:10). God is the source of life. Alienation from Him can only be harmful to our life. Jesus is the way of life (John 14:6). If we do not seek Him, we walk the way of death (Matthew 7:13-14; Deut 30:19-20). Mere existence is, of course, possible without seeking the Lord; but ni life in all its fullness.

  • Finally, those who seek the Lord and abide in Him are transformed. They become a new creation. (John 3:3; 2 Corr. 5:17); and they produce the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 22-23; John 15:1-6).

    Seek your Neighbor
    By seeking the Lord, we acquire, as we have seen, a seeking orientation. As a result, we relate and respond seekingly to the whole of a creation, especially to our fellow human beings. This is basic to loving our neighbor, as the Second Commandment mandates us to do. To love is to seek, and vice versa. The bottom-line of seeking is the willingness to see and to respond. The inclination to see, without the willingness to respond, amounts to dishonest. It insults human dignity; for this attitude turns others into objects of our curiosity. The practical proof that we do, indeed, seek the Lord is that we relate to others seekingly. What does this involve?

  • To seek our fellow human beings is to be one with them. It is to overcome alienation and to stand together with them, which is the dynamic of compassion. Compassion is the eyesight to see human needs and the outreach in love to meet those needs. The difference between the Priest and the Samaritan in the parable of Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) is the seeking orientation that the former lacked and the latter had.

  • Seeking implies an eagerness to know the truth. Needs shed light into the human predicament. But we have a need to understand our needs aright. Needs are not only material and physical. They are also spiritual. To know needs aright we have to know what it means to be human, especially the fact that human beings cannot live by bread alone (Matthew 4:4). That can be done only if we seek to go beyond the reigning reductive assumptions about the meaning and scope of life. Every experience of meeting human needs is also an experience of spiritual growth and empowerment for us. Truly, it is in giving that we receive.

  • What does it mean to seek the truth about others? The truth is that all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. They have, hence, a scope that far exceeds what is evident today. Their wrong doings, lapses and weakness result from living a life that misses the mark. Herein lays the logic of love, patience, forgiveness and justice. All spiritual virtues are meant to help us to seek the truth in its wholeness about others. And that truth includes not only what they are today but also, more importantly, what they may well be by the grace and mercy of God. In every reaction to human imperfection, we are to seek perfection. Our reactions turning the other cheek, being one such - must be such that they remind others of the mark they miss.

    But how are we to seek? There are two models for seeking. We can seek either as fishers of fish or as fishers of human beings (Mark 1:16-18). Fishers of fish also seek, but in a narrow and, from a spiritual perspective, blind fashion. They seek only what is profitable for themselves. To seek in this fashion is to seek with our eyes closed. Selfishness is spiritual blindness. It blinds us to human needs by pulling the wool of covetousness over our eyes. Overcoming desires is a pre-condition for seeking in the spiritual sense of the term. If we don't, we shall seek only our own desires in respect of every person or situation.

    What does it mean to lose the capacity to seek, spiritually?

    1. Our religiosity degenerates into magic. The purpose of magic is to coerce God into conforming to our will. It is for this reason that Jesus taught us to seek even while praying. To pray "in the name of Jesus" is to pray seeking the will of God. That is why Jesus taught us to pray, "Your will be done". Yet another danger in an unseeking religiosity is guided by stereotypes and not by the Holy Spirit.

    2. Our relationship fall short of justice and fulfillment. The purpose of relationship is to remove alienation. Every relationship begins as an encounter between two strangers. They need to seek each other if their relationships that exclude this discipline are driven by the sinful logic "desire-and-domination" (Gen 3:16).

    3. Our personality remains stunted and under-developed. Seeking is the inner pull towards growth. A person who has the seeking spirit sees potentials in a situation to which others remain blind. Insofar as we seek the higher things of life, his personality acquires a character and a tang to which others cannot remain indifferent. One who does not do so will be like Zacchaeus, before he encountered Jesus of Nazareth.

    4. Those who do not seek cannot attain "life in all its fullness."

    Understandably, biblical spirituality is all about seeking: seeking God and neighbor. "It is time," says Hosea, "to seek the Lord"(10:12). It is because seeking of this kind is of the essence of our spiritual calling that we think of our life on this earth as a pilgrimage". But pilgrimage, too, can be undertaken without the spirit of seeking, as it happens increasingly in our times. Pilgrimage of this kind is at best sanctified tourism. It belongs to a culture of religious consumerism. Going to Jerusalem, as the Absurdist playwright Samuel Beckett points out, is a consumerist, touristic enterprise. People go there to see, and not to seek. Well, if it is to seek, it is not all that necessary to go there. Seeking is not a matter of where we are, but who we are. Jesus assures us, "Seek and you will find".

    "There are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything or to doubt everything; both ways save us from thinking." :Alfred Korzybski.

    Seek! Assume the wings of the morning. : Fly.

    [The Article is concluded.]

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