Last week, I encouraged all of us to do the work of an evangelist. Evangelism is the heartbeat of God. When man fell into sin, he became totally depraved and incapable of taking the first step to restoring his relationship with God. It took the grace of God to reach out to man (this is what salvation by grace mean). Often times, some Christians preach the Gospel as if we choose Christ (this is salvation by works – which is unbiblical). In fact, some even claim that we go looking for Christ. The opposite rather is true: it is Christ who comes looking for us. In the Garden of Eden, when man was running away from God because of the intrusion of sin, it was God who first asked the question: ‘where are you?’ (Genesis 3:9). A few years ago, there was a column one in one of the dailies captioned ‘missing you' or in my own words, ‘where are you?' People used this column to search for their longtime pals and relatives. The lost don’t look for themselves. They are looked for. In the same way, as lost sinners, we don’t look for Christ: it is Christ who looks for us. As lost sinners (Romans 5:8), we hate Christ (Romans 5:10). We love darkness (John 3:19). Beloved, hating God, being His enemy, and loving darkness (which is opposite to His light) produce nothing except damnation. It is for this reason that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, and in Christ alone will forever remain the fulcrum of the Christian faith. Anything less or more is another Gospel of the devil.
'Where are you' could be read superficially as if God was impugning His own omniscience. In other words, if God knows all things (cf. Psalm 139:4; 147:5), why did He ask about the where-about of Adam? The answer is very simple: aside from the anthropomorphism bent of the text, it shows that God was bringing man to his consciousness. God wanted man to know how he has drifted away from Him. God wanted man to be conscious of how sin had marred the relationship they had. God was holding man responsible for his action (indeed, after this question, Adam denied any responsibility in bringing sin into effect. We all, like our progenitor, deny responsibilities of our actions). It is similar to accusing God and lifting a fist against Him whenever evil strikes. This morning, God is asking all of us the question: ‘where are you?’
‘Where are you?’ is an interrogative statement. It requires an answer. It calls for a conversation. It calls for self-examination. It calls for self-reflection. It calls for a critical look at where we stand in our relationship with God. It tells us that we (as individuals) are responsible for our sins. It shifts the blame we put on God for the evils in this world to ourselves. More importantly, it tells us Jesus is willing to draw us to Himself. It tells us that God is the initiator of our salvation. It tells us to be conscious of where we are. Beloved, God is asking, ‘where are you?’
‘Where are you?’ is not also just about space. It demands us to reflect on our nature (ontology). It calls on us to explore who we actually are. 'Where you are' speaks about who you are. There is a direct correlation between where we are and the ontology of our being. If you love football, you are most likely to be on the football pitch playing or watching a football pitch. If you are a musician, you are most likely going to be on stage performing. If you are a teacher you are mostly going to be in the classroom. If you a judge or a lawyer, you are most going to be in court. If you are a trader or businessperson, you are likely to be at the market. If you are a farmer, you are most likely going to be on the field. 'Where you are' speaks volumes about who you are. Not only that, 'where you are' tells what you cherish most.
Certainly, you are always where your treasure is (Matthew 6:21). You commit your treasure to where you are. Where you are will determine what you do with your life. Beloved, we all have a place where we are. We are never without a place where we desire. In John 3:19, the Bible reports that God calls man from where He was to Himself, but man does not want to move away from where he is to God. This is because ontologically man does love where He is more than moving to where Christ is. Man loves the pleasures of where He is more than where Christ is.
It is on the basis of the fact that we all drift away from God that Jesus said that until the Father draws us to Himself, none of us will be willing to leave where we are to embrace Christ (John 6:44). Until Christ breaks the natural rebellion in us, we will never love Him (Romans 5:10). This explains Jesus’ saying that no one can come to Him unless His Father draws him closer. Our natural proclivity is that we are unwilling to leave where we are to come to Christ. The Bible calls us enemies of Christ. It also calls us haters of Christ. It is this stubbornness of our hearts that Jesus is asking about where we are. And since, we love darkness (where we are) more the light (salvation), which Jesus Christ brings, He is beckoning us. Like He did to Adam, He is approaching us. He is calling us. He said, ‘Come unto me all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28) He is telling us to come to Him, for in Him resides abundant pleasure (John 10:10).
The pleasures in where we are cannot ultimately satisfy us. Their pleasures of where we are cannot be compared to the overwhelming glory of Jesus Christ. Are you seeking pleasures in football, your conjugal relations, your profession, your intelligence, your talents, your material possessions and so on? Remember that these pressures have an expiring date (I John 2:15). These pleasures are momentary compared to the eternal pleasures in the Lord. Know that these pleasures pale in the presence of the pleasure we have in the Lord.
It is because of the momentariness of the pleasures of this world that Jesus is calling us to move away from where we are to where He is. In Him is life (John 1:4a). We are all chasing afterlife. Life is so precious to us. When we are sick, we literally trade everything to seek life. The basis of man is his life. Let us take life as a metaphor of pleasure. This is also because we usually use life as a pleasure's metaphor. For example, we use the expression, ‘he is enjoying life,’ to connote someone who is wealthy. We seek that life in materials things. We seek it in our conjugal relations. We seek it in our talents. We seek it in our possessions. We seek life in some form of spirituality and rituals. But friends, the Bible minces no words in saying that ‘Life is in Jesus Christ alone.' This means that nothing can give us satisfaction in the long run apart from the Lord Jesus Christ. The reason Jesus is central is that He is the Creator and the Lord of life (Acts 3:15). He alone has the key to Hades (Revelation 1:18). He alone conquered death (Acts 2:24).
Friends, where are you today? Are you fetishizing with your talents, gifts, material possession, pseudo-spirituality, and spousal relation? Jesus Christ is asking, ‘where are you?’ God has fixed a time when we shall all appear before Him for judgment. We shall all one day move away from where we are to face judgment. ‘Where are you?’ The Lord will smoke us out of where we are and bring us to judgment. Time is ticking. We move closer to eternity every new day. Is Jesus Christ at where you are?’ My prayer is that you will delight in Jesus. You will see Him as the ultimate source of pleasure.
Dear Lord, take all the glory. I have shared the words you gave me this dawn, while I was sleeping. Let me decrease and you increase. Touch the heart of my readers. Please do not let them see me; do not let them see the faults in my writing. Please let them see the glory in you. Let them see you as the ultimate source of satisfaction. I am an unworthy servant whom you have given your word. You burdened me with this message. Let it touch my heart, so that I may not be a castaway. Let it, as well, touch the heart of my readers to move away from where they are to where you are. Finally, I say, not unto me, but unto you be the glory (Psalm 115:1). Amen.
Charles Prempeh ([email protected]), African University College of Communications, Accra