During a sermon on Psalm 125 a preacher used a quote by C.S. Lewis about how to avoid God. The words rang true for me as soon as I heard them.
Avoid silence, avoid solitude, avoid any train of thought that leads off the beaten track. Concentrate on money, sex, status, health and (above all) on your own grievances. Keep the radio on. Live in a crowd. Use plenty of sedation. If you must read books, select them very carefully. But you’d be safer to stick to the papers. You’ll find the advertisements helpful; especially those with a sexy or a snobbish appeal.
C. S. Lewis, “The Seeing Eye” in Christian Reflections (Eerdmans, 1967), pp. 168-167
How to Avoid God
Do these words ring as true for you as they do for me?
Without exception, the times I’ve felt most distant from God or the times I’ve tried to avoid Him have involved distracting myself from higher realities. I have attempted to fill my world with noise: Twitter, Facebook, blog reading, socializing, working. The more occupied my brain is with busyness, the easier it is to ignore the invisible reality of the spiritual world.
The Ultimate Distraction from God: Me
And I don’t just distract myself with external matters, my selfish brain is most absorbed when thinking about what I consider most important: me. Lewis says, “focus on your own grievances.” In other words, the most effective way to avoid the Creator of the universe is to make yourself the center of it.
When you elevate your own situation, especially your disappointments, to preeminence then no one else matters as much as you do. God no longer has a right to tell you how to live, and He can be blamed for any hardships you have. Anger and bitterness toward God develop. In time, you simply disregard Him altogether. This is how to avoid God.
But is there another way?
What if you don’t want to avoid God? What if you want to draw near to God? How do you seek His face?
Four Ways to Seek God
First, cultivate silence. Pause the DVR, log off of the computer, unplug the headphones, power down the cell phone. I’m floored by the insights I gain when I allow myself to turn off the flow of information and begin to process all the thoughts in my head. Our minds and hearts need silence to make sense of life. Mulling over the important moments in your day helps you draw closer to the transcendent lessons they teach.
Second, fill yourself with God’s word. Silence is the beginning not the end. As created beings we are finite. There are limits to our knowledge and understanding. God communicates with us through His word. And through His word we have access to His infinite wisdom and knowledge to help us understand Him, ourselves, and the world.
Third, talk to God. We always have prayer as a means to seek God and His will. We pray to God to praise Him, to thank Him for His blessings, and to ask for His help. Some of our most intimate times with God come through raw, unrehearsed, embarrassingly honest conversations with God.
Fourth, spend time with God’s people. This is a lesson I’ve only recently begun to learn after getting plugged into a healthy church and small group. Spending time with other believers has taught me lessons about God and myself I could not have learned alone. Our individualistic culture promotes a version of community that centers around identity markers that are not primary. Race, class, social causes, location, and the like. For Christians, their primary identity is founded on Christ. Sharing time with others who know and believe this truth helps you draw nearer to God.
Although our consciences constantly remind of of His reality, it is surprisingly easy to avoid God. In many cases, it takes almost no effort at all. By contrast, we have to be intentional if we want to seek God. We have to cultivate silence, be filled with God’s word, talk to God, and spend time with God’s people. Even though it takes effort, we can enjoy true union with God through His Son Jesus Christ. He is Immanuel, “God with us.”
“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us”
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