SEEKING THE FACE OF GOD

In this era of climate change concerns the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the entirety of humanity worldwide to the precipice of what is arguably the greatest crisis we have ever faced. Fortunately there is a sure remedy for the dilemma in which we find ourselves ensnared. Thousands of years ago God spoke and said:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (I Chronicles 7:14 NIV)

Simple. Concise. Comprehensive.

But do we really understand how to accomplish this? Let’s unpack this and examine it step by step.

Step 1: Humble ourselves

This should be the easiest part if we are really observant. As the beloved hymn says:

“O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, how great Thou art.”

When we take the time to truly consider the magnitude and magnificence of the universe, we will realize how great and powerful God is and how lowly and weak we are in comparison. This should burst the bubble of our inflated egos and make us humble. So first of all, let’s be still and know who God is.

Step 2: Pray

At first blush this seems self-explanatory, but let’s examine it more closely. We need to remember that prayer is intended to be a dialogue between us and God. Dialogue implies two-way communication. We are remiss if we merely voice our concerns, complaints and cries for help without staying tuned to hear God’s reply. It is also good to give him thanks even before receiving the answer, but knowing it will come. This is a display of trust in God’s goodness and care for us.

Step 3: Seek God’s face

This would seem to create somewhat of a problem, for Scripture tells us when Moses on Mount Sinai asked God to show him his glory, God replied:

“I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” (Exodus 33:19-23 NIV)

What does it mean then to seek the face of God? To me the answer is simple when we remember that God created mankind in his image. To seek the face of God then means to try to see God’s face in the face of everyone around us, regardless of race, religion, skin color or sex. Our attitude towards those who are different from us will then be much more in keeping with Christ’s command (not suggestion) to us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

And finally, Step 4: Turn from our wicked ways

There are many facets to this requirement, but I believe they all stem from the fact we have forgotten that when God created mankind he gave us the authority and responsibility to nurture and care for all he had created, including all of the flora and fauna, as his stewards. That we have neglected the responsibilities of our stewardship is evident in the way we continue to abuse our privileged status. The natural world and other fellow humans have all suffered as a result. We must, as Christ enjoined us, “Repent {change your worldview}” and turn from our sins of abuse and neglect in order for our land to be healed.

One final thought:

God has already granted us forgiveness of our sins since Jesus has borne for us the penalty of death they demanded. And as to healing our land, I don’t believe God intends to sovereignly clean up our mess for us. I believe, having delegated the authority and responsibility to us, he intends to show us how we can and should clean up after ourselves.

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