Welcome to the ‘Thought for the Week’ column as we venture into this New Year, 2018. Last week, we read and hear from all media outlets of a leader of a cult movement who made a prophecy to his followers and not fulfilled. The leader of this so-called movement and others similar movements used the name of religion to promise great wealth and prosperity to their followers. The movement is founded on a cargo cult mentality. It is a mindset far from the biblical teachings of Christianity, yet so appealing to many people today.
In the light of this, we must be reminded of the fact that God being who He is must always be sought for Himself, never as a means towards something else. Whoever seeks other objects and not God is on their own, they may obtain those objects if they are able, but they will never have God. God is never found accidentally. The Bible says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
Whoever seeks God as a means toward desired ends will not find God. The mighty God, the maker of heaven and earth, will not be one of many treasures, not even the chief of all treasures. He will be all in all or He will be nothing. God will not be used. His mercy and grace are infinite and His patient understanding is beyond measure, but He will not aid us to attain ends which, when attained, usurp the place He by every right should hold in our interest and affection.
Yet popular Christianity has as one of its most effective talking points the idea that God exists to help people to get ahead in this world. The God of the poor has become the God of the wealthy. The emphasis is that God does not want his children to be living in poverty. Christ no longer refuses to be a judge or a divider between money- hungry believers. He can now be persuaded to assist the person that has accepted Him to get the better of the person who has not.
A crass example of the modern effort to use God for selfish purposes is the well-known comedian who, after repeated failures, promised someone he called God that if He would help him to make good in the entertainment world he would repay Him by giving generously to the care of sick children. Shortly afterward he hit the big time in the nightclubs and on television. He has kept his word and is raising large sums of money to build children’s hospitals. These contributions to charity, he feels, are a small price to pay for a success in one of the sleaziest fields of human endeavour.
One might excuse that act of this entertainer as something to be expected of a twentieth-century pagan; but that multitudes of professed believing Christians should actually believe that God had anything to do with the whole business is not easily overlooked. This low and false view of Deity is one major reason for the immense popularity God enjoys these days among many Christians in our society. In the local scene is exactly what the Kingdom cult movement is advocating.
The teaching of the Bible is that God is Himself the end for which man was created. The Psalmist says, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you” (Psalm73:25). The first and greatest commandment is to love God with every power of our entire being. Where love like that exists there can be no place for a second object. If we love God as much as we should, surely we cannot dream of a loved object beyond Him which He might help us to obtain.
Bernard of Clairvaux begins his radiant little treatise on the love of God with a question and an answer. The question: Why should we love God? The answer: Because He is God. He develops the idea further, but for the enlightened heart little more need be said. We should love God because He is God. Beyond this the angels cannot think.
Being who He is, God is to be loved for His own sake. He is the reason for our loving Him, just as He is the reason for His loving us and for every other act He has performed, is performing and will perform, world without end. God’s primary reason for everything is His own good pleasure. The search for secondary reasons is gratuitous and mostly futile. It affords occupation for so-called prophets and adds pages to books on doctrines, but that it ever turns up any true explanations is doubtful.
But it is the nature of God to share. His mighty acts of creation and redemption were done for His good pleasure, but His pleasure extends to all created things. One has but to look at a healthy child at play or listen to the song of a bird at sun-down and he will know that God meant His universe to be a joyful one.
Those who have been spiritually enabled to love God for Himself will find a thousand fountains springing up from the rainbow-circle throne and bringing countless treasures which are to be received with reverent thanksgiving as being the overflow of God’s love for His children. Each gift is a bonus of grace which because it was not sought for itself may be enjoyed without injury to the soul. These include the simple blessings of life, such as health, a home, family, congenial friends, food, shelter, the pure joys of nature or the more artificial pleasures of music and arts.
The effort to find these treasures by direct search apart from God has been the major activity of mankind through the centuries; and this has been everyone’s burden and everyone’s woe. The effort to gain them as the ulterior motive back of accepting Christ may be something new under the sun; but new or old it is an evil that can only bring judgment at last.
God wills that we should love Him for Himself alone with no hidden reasons, trusting Him to be to us all our natures require. Our Lord said all the much better, “But seek first, his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
By Rev Eric D. Maefonea