I’ve begun reading God in Search of Man by Abraham Joshua Heschel. I’m only 33 pages in so I will be no means comment on the book in general, but I wanted to share one concept from the opening pages that caused some real reflection for me.
In the context of self-clarification and self-examination, Heshel writes:
Religious thinking, believing, feeling are among the most deceptive activities of the human spirit. We often assume it is God we believe in, but in reality it may be a symbol of personal interests that we dwell upon. We may assume that we feel drawn to God, but in reality it may be a power within the world that is the object of our adoration. We may assume it is God we care for, but it may be our own ego we are concerned with. To examine our religious existence is, therefore, a task to be performed constantly. [Italics mine]
“We may assume it is God we care for, but it may be our own ego…” These were the words that cut to my heart Morning. I live in a perpetual Disneyland compared to the reality of following Jesus for the first Christians and even many in other parts of the world today, for whom a public profession of faith in Jesus marks the end of life as they new it, and possibly even the end of life. Only in such an easy environment could following Jesus become so discombobulated that I may seek God for my benefit. I want what he can give me and what He can do for me. At least, I must admit this is often the case.
I even listen to podcasts of popular Christian leaders who seem always to center upon the human quest for fulfillment, achievement, and purpose. These are important, and I certainly see the validity and godliness in the pursuit of God’s will, power, and purpose in an individuals life. What bothered me, however, was the thought that this quest for fulfillment may be elevated to a level that is…well [wince] hedonistic.
Shining the light of examination inward, I wondered whether I have labeled as a care for God what was truly an egotistical desire to be someone, to succeed. I think of the Psalmist’s words:
O God, You are my God;Early will I seek You;My soul thirsts for You;My flesh longs for YouIn a dry and thirsty landWhere there is no water.So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,To see Your power and Your glory.