Nov 20, 2008

Tozer Made Easy - Part 5 of 10

by Dan Grubbs

The Pursuit of God: Chapter 5 - The Universal Presence

Tozer, in this fifth chapter, does not let the sleepy Christian rest on a simplistic understanding of the omnipresence of God or, to use his words, the divine immanence. His observation is that Christians really don’t think deeply about this or they would see much more than the simple idea that God is everywhere. Instead, Tozer points out that if God’s immanence or omnipresence were deeply rooted in our thinking, we would live a different life.

He spends needed space explaining, often in very poetic terms, that God simply is “here” and there can be no place that He is not. If this weren’t true, according to Tozer, God couldn’t be the Cause of all that is and worthy of the lives we give Him.

But, there seems to be an intellectual hurdle that most Christians don’t clear when it comes to this all-important fact about God. Tozer writes, “These are truths believed by every instructed Christian. It remains for us to think on them and pray over them until they begin to glow within us.” It’s clear that the author felt we are not glowing with this knowledge.

“If God is present at every point in space, if we cannot go where He is not, cannot even conceive of a place where He is not, why then has not that Presence become the one universally celebrated fact of the world?”

So, we’re prompted to ask why do we not “universally” glow with this knowledge. The answer can be found in the words of Jacob who cried out in wonder, “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.” Tozer writes that Jacob, and all mankind, have never been without the ever-present immanence of the Creator. But, somehow, through our unwillingness, our hardheartedness or imperception, we miss God in our presence. According to the writer, “Men do not know that God is here. What a difference it would make if they knew.”

Key to unlock our closed hearts

In the chapter, Tozer explains that there is a difference between the reality of the Presence and the manifestation of the Presence. In other words, God is always there. But, when we take note of Him, He is manifest to us. If we want to continually have the manifestation of our God, keep ourselves fully aware of God’s presence, then we must “surrender to the Spirit of God, for His work is to show us the Father and the Son.” Tozer writes that if we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in this way, God will “manifest Himself to us” and that is the difference between a luke-warm life and a life on fire for God filled with the joy of glorifying Him.

If we are truly in pursuit of God, we will meet Him because God seeks to reveal Himself to us. It’s not that God isn’t present and we need to find Him. We first must deeply contemplate that God is ever-present and wants to make Himself manifest to us in our daily endeavors. Tozer puts it more eloquently:

Our pursuit of God is successful just because He is forever seeking to manifest Himself to us. The revelation of God to any man is not God coming from a distance…to pay a brief and momentous visit to the man's soul. The approach of God to the soul or of the soul to God is not to be thought of in spatial terms at all. There is no idea of physical distance involved in the concept. It is not a matter of miles but of experience.
Differences of experience

If God is ever-present, for all Christians, why is it that some people seem to have a closer experience than others? God’s desire is to manifest Himself to all without prejudice or favoritism. So what’s the difference? “All He has ever done for any of His children He will do for all of His children. The difference lies not with God but with us.”

The difference, according to Tozer, is our “spiritual receptivity”. Some cultivate and feed and foster their spiritual awareness so they experience God, or better said, God makes Himself manifest to them. King David put it aptly, “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.”

Tozer calls it receptivity. Simply, it’s the sensitivity to always know and feel that God is with us, in our presence. Our pursuit of God is dependent on this receptivity, which he writes can vary in intensity based upon our own true desire to see God’s face — not a desire of the mind, but one that is lived out in action. This receptivity can “be increased by exercise or destroyed by neglect.”

Result of a lack of receptivity

Failure to seek and perceive God’s presence, according to the author, causes a breakdown in our churches. A deliberate and disciplined link with God requires a commitment of our lives, not just our time. It is often slow. Too slow for many Christians who, according to Tozer, are impatient to work for something they desire. He writes, “We read our chapter, have our short devotions and rush away, hoping to make up for our deep inward bankruptcy.”

As lamentable as this sounds, there is hope if we return to the ways of the Bible. Tozer points to times in the past when great movements led people back to the Bible. But, it’s not the momentous events Tozer speaks of in his book, The Pursuit of God. It’s about the individual seeking the face of God. What this chapter and the book is trying to help us understand is simply this:

Let any man turn to God in earnest, let him begin to exercise himself unto godliness, let him seek to develop his powers of spiritual receptivity by trust and obedience and humility, and the results will exceed anything he may have hoped in his leaner and weaker days. Any man who by repentance and a sincere return to God will break himself out of the mold in which he has been held, and will go to the Bible itself for his spiritual standards, will be delighted with what he finds there.
In summary, the unprecedented fact of God’s universal presence is unquestionable. And He is there and willing to reveal Himself to us. We are created to be receptive to Him if we will only genuinely seek Him. This is what Tozer refers to as the pursuit of God. The perception and realization of God will only increase with our practice of the pursuit.

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