Thursday, December 12, 2013

Looking for you

Lately, India has been on my mind a lot more than usual. I have a very long personal history with India going back to my teen years.

At about the age of 13, I picked up a book from my parents’ library, a novel about a girl my age growing up in India, that had a chapter entitled Krishna the Joyous. I also read H. G. Wells’ bulky 2-volume History of the World, which had lots of line drawings of pagan gods, among them Ganesh the elephant-headed god and, again, Krishna with his flute.
Later, in my college years and a little beyond, George Harrison brought to our attention the Hare Krishna movement through his music and then, suddenly, there they were, chanting and playing their weird instruments, finger cymbals, mridangas (my favorite, a type of drum), and jumping up and down with ecstatic fury all around town. In Edmonton, Alberta, where I lived after college, I used to visit the Hare Krishna temple, chant in Sanskrit, partake of bhagavad-prasadam (consecrated food), and read their books, but I never took the plunge. Why? Well, because of Jesus. He is real, Krishna is only a beautiful story.
Back to my interest in India, and even in one Indian religion, the Hare Krishnas, what attracted me to them was the beauty and joy evident in their worship. When I read their beliefs, though I could see instantly that it was all based on classical mythology, I was impressed by two things: They believe that there is only one God, whom they identify with the Krishna of the myths; and their scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita, seemed to have verses that were borrowed from the gospel according to Saint John. That made me think that somehow their form of Hinduism had been influenced by Christian ideas and was better than the others.
Mind you, all this was before I had accepted Jesus Christ at the age of 24. I was, of course, still dealing in what C. S. Lewis called “boys’ philosophy,” and hadn’t yet come to realize the objective reality of our situation—born into a sinful world, and headed for Gehenna. Once that fact is grasped, one doesn’t care a fig anymore for myths, beautiful or otherwise, but only for Him who alone can deliver us from eternal death, Him who tramples death by death and gives life to those in the tombs.
The whispers of the Truth arrive even in the ears of peoples who walk in darkness, begetting in them the beginnings of faith, but in Whom they do not know, and so teachers and prophets arise among them, taking the best they can find from their human speculations, from myths, from ancient tales handed down, and religions are created that approach the Truth yet still fall short. It’s the universal, world-wide story of man looking for God. But this is, simply put, not how it works. Man’s search for God is nothing compared to God’s search for man.
Starting with Eden, it was not Adam and Eve who went looking for God, “but Yahweh God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He asked.” God was looking for man. Later, though Noah could see that the world was full of wickedness, he had no plan, no work to do to fix this problem, but then, “God said to Noah, The end has come for all things of flesh…” and gave him the instructions as to what he was to do. Not Noah’s search for God, but God’s search for a man who would obey Him. Our first father Abraham, though he lived among an idolatrous people and was offended, he would have remained there, had not “Yahweh said to Abram, Leave your country, your family and your father’s house, for the land I will show you…” Again, not man’s search for God, but a living and caring God looking for man.

Throughout the Bible, this story, this true story, is repeated over and over again. It’s true that in Psalms, we read things like, “I have sought You with my whole heart, do not let me stray from Your commandments,” but these words are the prayers of one whom God has already found. God looked for him, found him, and now he seeks God. It’s not that we don’t look for God, but that’s not how we find Him: He looks for us, He finds us, we accept Him and what He has done for us, and now we look for the God whom we know, to please Him who is our Saviour and Lord.
In all the myths, you never hear of a god looking for man, only men looking for gods. When they don’t find them, since they know that there must be a “divine something,” they comfort themselves with man-made gods and religions. Planting these seeds, they obtain trees which bear fruit after their own kind, from ancient times down to the present, fruit that may give wisdom and knowledge, but can never give eternal life.
But here we have a God, the God, who is looking for man, and when He finds him, there is no such thing as religion anymore. “I saw that there was no temple in the city since the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb were themselves the temple.” When He finds us, He plants in us His own seed, that grows in us and bears fruit after its own kind, fruit that will last, the fruit of eternal life. He is always looking for man. He is looking for me. He is looking for you.

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