By Paul Borthwick
Paul is a leading mission speaker and senior consultant for Development Associates International. He is also a leader in the SVM2 network.
Study The Scriptures: They Reveal The Heart of God
God reveals his character to us as he makes himself known throughout the Scriptures. One of the ways God reveals himself is through the questions he asks. Whether they be rhetorical (like the questions God asks Job) or instructive (like Jesus’ “Who do you say that I am?” question to Peter), God uses questions as devices to teach us something about himself.
Consider three questions God asks. These questions explain how God’s character lays the foundation for outreach, evangelism, and cross-cultural missions. The questions reveal God’s heart for lost people. God utters them to tell us how He looks at our broken world.
#1: The Scriptures Reveal God’s Seeking Heart
“Where Are You?” (Genesis 3:9)
This first question, posed by God as he sought out Adam and Eve after their rebellion, tells us of God’s heart: the loving father pursues lost sinners. When they were afraid and hiding, God came looking.
Jesus reflected that same priority through his stories in Luke of lost things being earnestly pursued: lost sheep, a lost coin, a lost son. He summarized his passion for things lost to those who criticized his outreach to Zaccheus: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
God comes looking for us. He wants to get back into relationship with us, and HE seeks after us (even though we sinners broke the relationship). After he finds us, he calls us to imitate his heart by seeking others. We love because he first loved us. We seek because he first sought us.
When we follow Christ, He calls us to go into the world asking the same question to the broken world – “Where are you? God wants a restored relationship with you.”
Paul the apostle captured this spirit in II Corinthians 5 when he refers to us as “Christ’s ambassadors” reaching out in reflection of God’s seeking heart by urging people to “be reconciled to God” (II Corinthians 5:20).
If we understand the seeking heart of God, we will find ourselves joining in the plea to others, “Be reconciled to God.” The loving father God wants you back.
The application of God’s heart into our own lives has both local and global application.
At a local level, Bob understood the pursing love of God and he joined a local athletic club in an effort to engage people by seeking those who know nothing of God’s love.
God’s seeking heart motivated Debbie to decrease her activities at church in order to spend more time with her unchurched neighbors.
God’s seeking heart reproduced in Joan resulted in service through an inner city soup kitchen; in Fred it resulted in establishing an “inquirers” Bible study at work; in Jim and Andrea it resulted in a commitment to cross-cultural ministry in Central Asia with an unreached ethnic group.
On a global level, understanding God’s seeking heart will result in people mobilized to go to the hard places. It is God’s initiative toward lost people that will call people to the world’s unreached.
We’ll see people desirous of taking the “Where are you?” invitation of God to those who have never been invited. When we understand the seeking heart of God in the Scriptures, we’ll find ourselves echoing Paul’s stated desire to “preach where Christ is not already named” (Romans 15:20).
When we understand God’s seeking heart, we always maintain an outward focus that thrusts us out in evangelism, mercy ministries, and cross-cultural outreach.