How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
(Psalm 84:1,2)

GOD SHOULD BE NOT ONLY OUR HIGHEST PRIORITY BUT ALSO OUR MOST FERVENT PASSION. Love and desire for Him should stir so deeply within us that we seek Him at all costs. If God is indeed our Creator, no less than this is required. It would be the greatest folly imaginable to treat God as one of our peripheral interests.

Some years ago, there was a theologian who defined religion as a person’s “ultimate concern.” While this is true in a certain sense, the concept of “ultimate concern” may be misleading. Ultimate concerns may be equal in that everybody has one, but they are not equal with regard to validity or value. To be of value, ultimate concern needs to be aligned with ultimate reality. But more to the point, not every person’s ultimate concern is equally strong. We all have something that we care about more than anything else, relatively speaking, but we don’t all give ourselves with equal passion to our priorities, even our highest ones. Some people simply don’t pursue anything with passion. And when it comes to God, none of us can say we pursue Him as passionately as we should. God deserves more than we usually give Him.

To put it bluntly, in our present spiritual condition we are weak. And overcoming our weakness is a process that requires focus and dedication. As artist Thomas Kinkade, the “painter of light,” wrote, “You don’t get into physical shape by wishing you were a better athlete, and you don’t get into better spiritual condition by harboring some vague spiritual yearnings.” In the Beatitudes, Jesus said it with pointed clarity: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Those who shall be filled are those who hunger for God with a hunger that is desperate. And those who hunger are those who long for Him with a passion — we may even call it a determination — that will not be denied.

“For many of us a right relationship with God is seen as an important part of ‘the good life’ which every well-rounded individual should address, but it is certainly not the whole of things. Jesus says it must be more than a vital interest — it must become the reigning passion of our existence. All that truly hungry people can think of is food” (Paul Earnhart).

Gary Henry — +

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