A doctor friend of ours recently referred a male patient to another doctor, but that doctor’s staff told the man they wouldn’t accept him as a new patient. So our friend called another doctor and asked, “How would you respond to a big, scary, tattooed guy if I sent him to your clinic?” The immediate response was, “We’d say, ‘Can we help you?’”
God treats ugly, scary sinners like me and you in the same manner. In Luke 19:10, Jesus said, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Rather than reject us because we’re unlovable, God pursues us, not to punish us, but to invite us into his clinic so he can save us from our sin and have a relationship with us.
Boise pastor Steve Evans wrote about that pursuit in a recent blog. “Christ calls us back to him, and he takes us in despite the messiness of our appearance or the harshness of the rebuke that we may have thrown at his truth. …As our Shepherd and the Caretaker of our souls, he works continually to bring us home.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m grateful God pursued me – and continues to pursue me – to rescue me from myself and my sin. In this world filled with crime and war and people doing terrible, abusive harm to one another, I must remember that the same God who pursues me pursues them and loves them with an everlasting love.
Evans went on to write, “It is a part of the amazing, miraculous and mystical nature of God that he seeks after and pursues everyone on this earth with his gospel message of love, redemption and restoration of relationship with our Creator.” Yet, despite his loving pursuit, we humans tend to play “hard to get.” Francis Thomas’s famous poem “The Hound of Heaven” refers to God’s relentless pursuit of his fleeing creatures. First published in 1893, the 182-line poem describes how we run from God.
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind;
and in the mist of tears I hid from him.
We’re surrounded by people who are running away from God and searching for love, redemption and restoration in all the wrong places. How can those of us who’ve been happily captivated by God’s love demonstrate to such individuals that our Creator is not only good, he’s safe? The book of Colossians has several suggestions. In chapter four, believers are encouraged to be wise in the way we act toward others and to let our conversations “be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Chapter three instructs us to “clothe ourselves” with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience,” to forgive as Christ forgave us, and “over all these virtues put on love.” When our lives reflect our Creator’s love, he can use us to help others run into his arms rather than away from him. “Demonstrate the goodness of him who has called you out of darkness into his amazing light. Your conduct…should always be good and right, so that…they may glorify God when they see how well you conduct yourselves” (Colossians 2:9b, 12 Phillips).
Still with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbèd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
Came on the following Feet,
And a Voice above their beat
I am He Whom thou seekest!