What are you seeking? I don’t mean in the abstract philosophical sense, as in “I’m a seeker of truth” or “I’m just looking for happiness.” I hope you seek the former and I know you seek the latter. No, I’m asking down here, on the runway, where you actually do things. What are you really seeking?
There are other ways to phrase the question:
What do you really want?
What are you dreaming about having?
What’s fueling your hope for the future?
What’s capturing your attention most?
What are you focusing your reading on?
What are you searching the internet for?
What are you spending your time and money on?
What are you making plans to pursue?
Or we could ask it negatively: What desired person or thing is fueling your depression and cynicism, because as much as you want him or her or it, they seem unattainable?
What are you seeking? Your answers will tell you what you love.
Love Always Seeks
It is the very nature of love to seek the beloved, whether our beloved is a human lover (Song of Solomon 7:10) or money (1 Timothy 6:10) or some other worldly thing (1 John 2:15) or God (Deuteronomy 4:29; 6:5). We cannot help but seek what we love. And we cannot help but grow disillusioned, bitter, and even hopeless if we don’t believe we can have what we love.
Pursuit is the mark of real passion. That’s why David wrote such things as, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after” (Psalm 27:4), and “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you” (Psalm 63:1). When he composed these psalms, he was consumed with love for (desire for) God. And love compelled him to seek his beloved.
And it’s why Paul wrote things like, “for the love of Christ controls us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). The Greek word, synechō, translated in the ESV as “controls,” others have translated as “compels” (NIV) or “constrains” (KJV). What Paul meant was that the love of Christ urged, even forced him to action, to pursue what captured his heart in ways that caused some to accuse him of being out of his mind (2 Corinthians 5:13).
Love controls, compels, constrains us. Love pursues. Love must act because love in word only is no true love; for true love always produces action (1 John 3:18).
Have We Lost Our First Love?
The first indicator that we have lost our passion for God, that he is no longer our preeminent love, isn’t embracing false doctrine, falling into immorality, or out-right apostasy. In fact, we might even still be serving Christ and enduring hardship with a measure of faithfulness that most observers would commend. No, the first warning sign can be seen in Jesus’s words to the church in Ephesus:
I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (Revelation 2:3–5)
Though the Ephesian Christians were still toiling, patiently enduring evil adversity (Revelation 2:2), they no longer were burning with desire and therefore no longer earnestly seeking Christ. The love of Christ no longer controlled and constrained them like it used to. And the “works” they no longer did was the whistleblower of their loss of affection for Christ. Jesus considered this a serious problem and his warning was urgent.
It is a serious problem, because if what we love the most drives our pursuits, and Jesus is not what we love the most, we will be spending our energies and resources elsewhere, however orthodox we may yet remain at the creedal level.
What Are You Really Seeking?
So what are you seeking? What we do when given the choice, what we choose to pursue, what we want to seek are indicators of what has captured our affections.
Is the love of Christ controlling, compelling, constraining us, or is something else? Are we serving Christ out of an affection for him that makes it hard not to, or out of a sort of weary, dreary obligation? Or do we no longer do the works of faith like we used to do — not because the focus of our calling has changed, but because we just no longer have it in us like we used to?
Jesus’s call to the Ephesians to repent was not mere warning, but gospel. Repentance is an escape from the bondage of sin, whatever it is. The very fact that repentance is possible, because of what Jesus has done for us in the cross, is astoundingly wonderful news! The call to repent is a call not to have our shame exposed and bear God’s stern frown on us. It’s a call to return by the grace of God to the place of greatest hope and fullest joy.
It’s not a question of whether we will seek out what we love. The question is, what are we really seeking? Our works are our whistleblowers, because they tell us what we love. And if we do not love what we ought, God has provided us a way to escape from bondage and to return to joy.
And then let us again quest for the real Treasure: “Seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29).