We believe there is no greater pursuit in life than knowing God; therefore, everything we do should center around Him. (Romans 11:36; Romans 12:1-2; Colossians 1:15-17; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
CrossTown DNA—part 1, “God is the Goal”
By Jeremy Gorham
God is the Goal We believe there is no greater pursuit in life than knowing God; therefore, everything we do should center around Him.
Banner reads: We believe there is no greater pursuit in life than knowing God.
“IS GOD ENOUGH?”
One of the greatest questions that someone could ever ask is this question: Is God enough for you?
Before you give an answer, imagine if you were stripped from everything you enjoy, everything you love, everything you own—Let the heaviness of that devastation settle in your mind for a moment…now answer:
Is God enough for you?
That my friend is a very difficult, eye opening, real life question! No matter what your answer is today, it pales in comparison to the answer we give when we come face to face with some of life’s hardest, most gut wrenching, heart breaking circumstances. In that moment when the roof comes crashing down, your response will speak louder and clearer to the people around you, more so than any other time in your life.
There is a story in the Old Testament of a guy named Job who found this out firsthand:
There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. 2 There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. 3 He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. 4 His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God (the angels) came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” 8 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” 9 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
Here’s what happened next, one day messengers came from all over to tell Job the roof was crashing down in his life—One servant told Job that his oxen (500 yoke) and donkeys (500) were taken by their enemies, the Sabeans. Another servant said, fire from heaven burned up all the sheep (7,000). Yet another said raiders stole his camels (3,000). Still another said all of Job’s sons (7) and daughters (3) were killed when the house they were in collapsed. This was not a good day for Job to say the least!
When the bottom drops out, when the fire falls, when the roof comes crashing down… Is God enough for you Job? His response:
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” 22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. (Job 1:20-22)
It’s easy to read this story in the Bible and gloss over the heaviness of the moment and the heartbreak that Job must have felt—don’t forget I only told you about chapter 1 of Job’s story! It’s easy for us to read about Job’s life and chalk it up as an irrelevant tale that happened a long time ago—after all most of us do not have 7,000 sheep in our back yard.
However, before you dismiss Job’s story as simply an old folklore, recognize the pain and heartache that so many people go through in life. Realize that we all go through the treacherous valleys of pain, loneliness, fear, and desperation; these valleys in life leave us asking, how could we go on? In those moments our response is just as relevant and important today as it was for Job thousands of years ago.
The answer to the question could change your life—Is God enough for you? The answer you give will either leave you with great joy and complete satisfaction or it will leave you feeling like you are in the pit of despair when the bottom drops out in your life.
A.W. Tozer once said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
For Job, God was all-sufficient—He was everything. God was the reason for existence and the source of everything good that Job had in life; including the air he breathed. For Job there was no greater pursuit in life than worshipping God. Whether he had, or had not in this world, He was still going to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord”.
“NO GREATER PURSUIT”
The Apostle Paul refers to this great pursuit in His letter to the Corinthians:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
What an obvious statement Paul makes to the Corinthian church and to us today—of course all the runners run in a race—That’s very apparent! The same could be said about life—Do you not know that in life all humans live? Duh! So what’s the point? The point that Paul is making here is, just because you’re alive and have breath in your lungs, does not mean you are pursuing or living for the right things; it doesn’t mean that you’re running in such a way to receive a prize.
Let me ask you:
Are you running in such a way, in which you will obtain a prize?
Are you even running for the right prize?
Are you even in the right race?
Is my mind consumed by God or the things of this world?
Am I pursuing a prize that is perishable or a prize that is imperishable?
Worldly people pursue worldly things, but godly people pursue God!
We probably all know people who devote massive time in order to achieve something in this world. Some people pursue power, prestige, or possessions. Still others are trying to find fulfillment in things like sex, drugs and rock and roll. The pursuit of a perishable prize is something we can all relate to some degree because we all give way to the chase. It’s in our sin nature to desire the things of this world. It’s also in our nature to climb to the top of a mountain and take hold of a prize; a prize that will not last.
Paul uses athletic competition as his example—If you have ever played a competitive sport or perhaps have seen stories of Olympic athletes on TV, you are at least on the surface aware of just how much energy and focus is spent pursuing something temporarily impressive, but eternally useless.
One of my favorite things to do once every four years is watch the Olympics. Whether it’s the summer or winter games, I love sitting back and appreciating athletes who have exhausted themselves in ways that few people can comprehend. I love watching these athletes compete for their country and earn a spot on the podium.
During the Sochi Winter Games, NBC featured a story about Charlie White and Meryl Davis, the US figure skating couple. Have you seen these two skate?! I’m not the biggest ice skating fan, but to watch this couple glide, step, dance, throw and spin on the ice is simply amazing. If you followed the Olympics many of you know Charlie and Merly went onto win the US’s first ever gold medal in ice dancing. What you may not known is the amount of time, dedication and training that went into earning that gold medal.
Shortly after their gold medal performance, Visa ran this commercial with none other than Morgan Freeman doing the voiceover. By the way, is there anyone else that does voiceovers? That’s besides the point. Morgan Freeman said in the commercial:
“Getting where you want to be doesn’t happen right away. For Meryl and Charlie, it’s been a journey that spans 17 years, 29,000 hours of practice, 75 competitions, and 4 and a half flawless minutes.”
That sounds like an exhausting journey!! Even when you hear of the amount of training, it’s still difficult to fully comprehend the amount of time they invested to become Olympic champions.
Paul says in that same way we must train as Christians—and we do so not to obtain a earthly medal, but an eternal crown. What Paul is trying to get across to us today is that if people are willing to discipline their bodies for 17 years, 29,000 hours of practice, 75 competitions, and 4 and a half flawless minutes.” then what lengths are we willing to go, in our journey of pursuing God?
As Paul said, “Every athlete exercise self-control in all things”. Every serious athlete exhorts massive amounts of energy, passion, focus, and self-control in their sport; so likewise we are to take that same type of energy, passion, focus, and self-control for the purpose of pursuing a prize that will last.
To give you a little insight into my journey—When I became a Christian at the end of my 9th grade year, my whole set of priorities immediately changed. Before Christ, my focus was on girls and basketball—I wanted to get to know girls more and I wanted to find success in basketball. After Christ, my focus was on the Bible—I wanted to get to know Jesus more and find my success through Him. Don’t get me wrong, I was still very interested in pursuing girls and playing basketball, but my entire worldview changed and all of my priorities were different. I started devoting more and more time for the purpose of pursuing Christ. My time devoted to God quickly outgrew anything else that I had on my schedule. For example, I would literally read my Bible for 2 hours after school, right up until basketball practice (barely making it to practice on time). Before Christ, I was in the gym at least an hour before the start of practice, but now I desired to devote more time to something different.
Thankfully today, I’m no longer in high school and have since joined the “real world” (whatever that means). Like you, I rarely have 2 hours after school (or after work for that matter) to get alone and read my Bible. Now that I have a wife and four kids, life looks much different than it did when I first became a Christ-follower.
Maybe the same can be said for you—perhaps your life looks different now than it did when you first met Christ. Maybe you find yourself in a different season of the journey. It is no surprise to any of us that life happens—responsibilities increase, available time decreases, BUT YOU CAN’T LET THAT BE AN EXCUSE—Olympians don’t use excuses and neither should Christians.
The truth is, we are all busy and may not have the time we used to have, but let me remind you—WE ARE IN A RACE, Pursuing SOME THING OF GREAT VALUE.
When you become a Christian your focus, discipline and training should change. Why? Because the goal that you are pursuing changed.
When your goal changes, the path of your pursuit changes as well.
So in what ways are you pursuing God? Factoring the season of life that you are in and the responsibilities that you have; how are you investing in that pursuit?
As Paul said, “do not run aimlessly”. He said to have a better plan than a “boxer beating the air”. I.E. If your goal is to learn to play the guitar, have a better plan than only playing “air guitar”! Learn to discipline yourself for the purpose of knowing God more.
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)
If the goal is to know God more and worship Him with our lives, then how do we do that? How do we reprogram our minds from the will of the world, to the will of God? Without going into an exhausting list of dos and don’ts, let me share with you three ways that you can begin to know God more in your life.
- Know Him more through His Word (we will talk about this more in: “We are Passionate about God’s Word”)
We are told in the scriptures to grow in our knowledge of who God is and how He has commanded us to live…
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)
With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments! (Psalm 119:10)
…How are you doing in this area?
- Know Him more through prayer (we will talk about this more in: “Prayer is a Priority”)
We are told in the scriptures that through quiet stillness we know God is over all…
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10)
…How are you doing in this area?
- Know Him more through loving others (we will talk about this more in: “Saved People, Serve People”)
We are told in the scriptures that to know God is to love others…
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)
…How are you doing in this area?
How are you doing in growing in the knowledge of the scriptures? How are you doing in the area of being still before the Lord in prayer? How are you doing in the area of loving others more? We will talk more about each of these disciplines later on in this study, but for now I want you to notice something about each of them; they all stem out of the desire to pursue and know God more.
God is the Goal—His Word, our prayers, and the love we show to others are the means to the goal, not the goal itself. We study, we pray and we serve not to simply check off a list of spiritual disciplines so that we feel good about ourselves. This is so important to understand, otherwise we become judgmental, legalistic people who enjoy puffing up ourselves instead of making much of God.
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me,(Jeremiah 9:23-24a)
God is saying, “Hey if you want to boast, boast in this: that you know ME!” Our pride and joy should be that we know God and God alone—Our pride should not be in reading more, praying more, or loving more.
Another way to say this—We don’t read the Bible to gain more knowledge. We don’t pray to feel more spiritual. We don’t love to feel better about ourselves. We do these things for this purpose alone: That we “know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
“CENTERED AROUND HIM”
Is your whole life centered around Him? Is that your goal? The Apostle Paul says in Colossians 1:15-17,
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
This bears repeating—all things were created THROUGH HIM (he made you!) AND FOR HIM (you exist to know and glorify God!)
Our goal in life should be that our entire life is centered around Jesus. The goal should not be for Jesus to make it on your to-do list. The goal should not be for Jesus to jump up to the top of your to-do list. The goal of your life should be that Jesus is the center of everything you do and say because then and only then, will everything you do and say be affected, determined, dictated, and influenced by Jesus.
Think about it—if you have Jesus on your to-do list, He might not be first on your list. If you have Jesus at the top of your to-do list, He might be first, but that doesn’t mean that everything else on your list is affected by who’s on the top of your list. You see, it’s possible for you to check off Jesus at the top of your list, but still be in pursuit of worldly things as you go further down your list. BUT if Jesus is at the center of everything you do and say, AND everything stems out of the relationship that you have with Jesus, THEN you can’t help but have everything you do in life be influenced by the one piece that is in the center—JESUS.
Jesus at the center of it all means everything when it comes to the Christian life. If He is in the center, God is the Goal. If He is not in the center God is not the Goal. Listen friends, if you have not yet arrived at this perspective then my fear is, you see God as an important element in your life, but for you God is not the Goal. Until God is the goal you won’t be able to declare what Paul says in Romans 11:36:
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
The start of the race has begun….may you be able to declare along with people like Job and Paul who have gone on before us…Blessed be the Name of the Lord, for their is no greater prize, to Him be the glory forever, I will lift up my eyes.