In the first chapter of A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God, we are introduced to a doctrine that is not commonly discussed in churches today. A subset of the doctrines of grace, ‘Prevenient Grace’ is the wonderful truth that “No one can come to me (Jesus) unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (John 6:44).
“The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him.” *
This is not to say that there must be an immediate response from the believer. Tozer is noted to have said, “I wish I had gone straight forward… I did not and most of us have not. We zigzag on our way to heaven in place of flying a straight course. I am sorry about this. I don’t excuse it, but I try to understand it.” (1) God is a personal God and He has only revealed Himself to us so that we might know Him and pursue Him.
Many people get lost in their pursuit by way of academia. In trying to study God, define His attributes, and systematize His teachings, they have all but lost His heart. The very efforts to deduce God have turned into something mechanical and spiritless.
“The modern scientist has lost God amid the wonders of His world; we Christians are in real danger of losing God amid the wonders of His Word.” *
True, genuine religion is about a relationship with God. Tozer points this out with strong language that sounds provocative to our immature ears: Intimacy and intercourse with the Almighty. He teaches that God is a person, and as a person He desires to be known by us in the most intimate way. Not to speak in sexual terms, but the truest form of love that is characteristic of a husband and wife.
Years ago I offered council to a young man about to be married. He was confused as to why, a month before their wedding, there was doubt in the mind and heart of his espoused. I asked him what he had done lately to show her he loved her. He hadn’t been thinking in those terms. He was about to marry her. That was his paramount expression of love. But in the finer things of pursuing her, he had neglected to fill her needs. The masculine notion, common to all men, is, “Why should we pursue what we have already received?”
How often do we come to God on Sunday and sing about the marriage supper of the Lamb, when we will once and for all give ourselves as the bride of Christ. Yet during the courtship we neglect to pursue the intimacy of a true relationship with Christ.
“To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of love.” *
Religion tends to become rigid and focuses more on the outcome than the process. This is why Tozer says, “How tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by our teachers.”* Too many books and sermons are being written and taught today that pass off as spiritual helps what really result in spiritual bondage. They offer results from a long and tedious process as solutions for the Christian faith, yet they forget the most important ingredient: the struggle of discovery. What is left are a list of rules, standards, and traditions that cannot offer joy, peace, or fulfillment.
The Christian faith is trapped in a world of ‘God-and’ which boarders on the lines of heresy. “You must have God and prosperity, or God and asceticism.” they will contradict themselves. The church, in large number, is blind to this form of legalism which plagues their worship, stifling their efforts to please God.
Tozer was a prophet of his time. He was able to see exactly where the church erred and offered consistent warnings as to where it would lead. Where we are today, is exactly as Tozer described it. The church is preoccupied by programs, methods, organizations, and activities which detract people from the personal, intimate, and quite times with God.
It is no wonder when Paul says, “Not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.” (I Corinthians 1:26 esv). Those who get the truth of seeking God are not proud enough to boast in their experience.
“The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One.” *
It is our very nature to want to organize and structure our faith. As leaders, we want to pave the way, make it easy for those who come behind us. Tozer realized that this was the very thing which would destroy the spirit of pursuing God. It was as a result of many years of faithful service the he was able to proclaim Paul’s exhortation, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12)
1. A Passion for God – The Spiritual Journey of A.W. Tozer; Lyle Dorsett; p.46