Nov 17, 2008

Tozer Made Easy - Part 2 of 10

by Dan Grubbs

The Pursuit of God: Chapter 2 - The blessedness of possessing nothing

In our pursuit of God, it’s obvious that we can be interrupted. In the second chapter of his book, Tozer illustrates the most common obstacles to a closer union with God are things — even those things God gives us. Things were “always meant to be external to the man, and subservient to him.” However, man has allowed things to replace God on the internal throne of man.

The throne metaphor is accurate because we were created by God to have a place within our inner self to be an eternal shrine for God. When we let other priorities push God out of that place, we end up with what’s known as a God-shaped vacuum. When it’s empty, “men have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer.”

Is “mine” part of the old-sin nature?

Our sinful nature now has an unnatural desire to possess, according to Tozer. It covets things. Don’t fool yourself to believe things are just material possessions. Things also include our children, our jobs, our homes. We use possessive pronouns, such as my and our, simply enough, but they should be stricken from the vocabulary of every true believer because nothing is ours. These words demonstrate “the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do.”

We have let things become necessary, but this was not God’s intent for His creation. Tozer teaches that God’s gifts now take the place of God. Similar to the Beatitudes, Christ tried to help us understand this by describing what we have to do to follow Him.

"…let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes
to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall
find it."
(Matt. 16:24-25)
Our pursuit of God, according to Tozer, must have at its beginning a “soul poverty and abnegation of all things.” We’re taught in this chapter that because of our covetous nature, we experience a tyranny of things. The poor — the internally poor — are “no longer slaves to the tyranny of things.” Though they are not bound by the sense of possessing, Christ teaches they have all things because they have the kingdom of heaven.

What may God do with the things?

What if the “things” this chapter is talking about is a child or a job? Tozer helps us understand what the scriptures illustrate through the story of Abraham and young Isaac. According to Tozer, the story is a “dramatic picture of the surrendered life as well as an excellent commentary on the first Beatitude.”

It’s clear that Isaac became the idol of Abraham’s heart. Any true parent or grandparent can understand this. Tozer describes that as the boy grew to a young adult it would be fair to characterize that the “relationship bordered on perilous,” spiritually speaking. It’s at this point that God intervenes to point the fact out to Abraham.

We may think it a difficult thing to wrest free the things in our life that interrupt our relationship with God. But, what must have that night before he was supposed to slay Isaac been like for Abraham? What agony was he going through? But, Abraham did not fail this trial even though it must have torn a significant piece of him, tendrils and all, from his heart.

Abraham was the living example of Christ’s words, “...whoever will lose...for my sake will find.” Finally, God stayed Abraham’s hand and allowed him to free his son; saying, in effect, “I only wanted to remove him from the temple of your heart that I might reign unchallenged there.”

Examine the whole of Abraham’s life. Can we say that he had nothing? Quite the contrary. He was a wealthy man with flocks and herds. He had his family and his clan. He even had his son preserved by his side. Didn’t he have everything? In fact, Tozer helps us to understand that Abraham actually had everything, but possessed none of these things. “There is the spiritual secret. There is the sweet theology of the heart which can be learned only in the school of renunciation,” Tozer writes. In short, when we learn the true lesson in our hearts, we learn peacefulness of life and the joy of a union with the Creator.

Tozer poses the question that prompts us to ask if “my” and “our” ever held the same meaning for Abraham again. Can we use Abraham’s pain for our own gain and ensure that we not let things usurp the throne of our lives that is rightfully God’s?

Like Abraham, can we free our inner selves from the desire to posses? Maybe the world around Abraham said, “he is rich.” But, Tozer believes that Abraham was tolerant of these because, “he could not explain it to them, but he knew that he owned nothing.”

What would you dispossess?

Gifts, talents, material things, jobs, loved ones; all are things that can interrupt our relationship with God. Yet, these things are only from God and not from our own doing. “The Christian who is alive enough to know himself even slightly will recognize the symptoms of this possession malady.” If we truly want to pursue God, then what should we do?

Tozer wrote that we must be completely honest with ourselves, because God knows our hearts anyway. The truly pursuing Christian should “trample under foot every slippery trick of his deceitful heart” and only allow an honest and true relationship with the heavenly Father. Tozer continues in pointing out that this is holy business and no lie can be present.

The Christian heart may need to discuss with God the specific things in one’s life that transplant themselves in the heart — naming them by name singularly. “If he will become drastic enough he can shorten the time of his travail ... and enter the good land long before his slower brethren.”

There is a warning here in Tozer’s writing, too. The possessive heart will not go easily or quietly. We must be prepared for the constant knocking at the door of our hearts of this self-pity.

If we are to truly pursue God, we must be ready and make this renunciation because it’s likely that God, sooner or later, may bring us to this test.

Will we be equipped for this fire?

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments will be moderated. Please be respectful. Just because a comment does not appear does not mean the moderator has not responded directly.