From “The Pursuit of God”
by A. W. Tozer, 1897-1963
Every soul belongs to God and exists by his pleasure. God being who and what he is, and we being who and what we are, the only thinkable relation between us is one of full lordship on his part and complete submission on ours. We owe him every honour that is in our power to give him. Our everlasting grief lies in giving him anything less.
The pursuit of God will embrace the labour of bringing our total personality into conformity to his. And this not judicially, but actually. I do not here refer to the act of justification by faith in Christ. I speak of a voluntary exalting of God to his proper station over us and a willing surrender of our whole being to the place of worshipful submission which the creator-creature circumstance makes proper.
The moment we make up our minds that we are going on with this determination to exalt God over all, we step out of the world’s parade. We shall find ourselves out of adjustment to the ways of the world and increasingly so as we make progress in the holy way. We shall acquire a new viewpoint, a new and different psychology will be formed within us, a new power will begin to surprise us by its upsurgings and its outgoings. Our break with the world will be the direct outcome of our changed relation to God. For the world of fallen humanity does not honour God. Millions call themselves by his name, it is true, and pay some token respect to him, but a simple test will show how little he is really honoured among them. Let the average person be put to the proof on the question of who or what is above, and that person’s true position will be exposed. Let him or she be forced into making a choice between God and money, between God and people, between God and personal ambition, God and self, God and human love, and God will take second place every time. Those other things will be exalted above. However people may protest, the proof is in the choices they make day after day throughout their lives.
“Be thou exalted” is the language of victorious spiritual experience. It is a little key to unlock the door to great treasures of grace. It is central in the life of God in the soul. Let seeking people reach a place where life and lips join to say continually, “Be thou exalted,” and a thousand minor problems will be solved at once. Their Christian life ceases to be the complicated thing it had been before and becomes the very essence of simplicity. By the exercise of their will, they have set their course and on that course, they will stay as if guided by an automatic pilot. If blown off course for a moment by some adverse wind, they will surely return again as by a secret bent of the soul. The hidden motions of the Spirit are working in their favour and “the stars in their courses” fight for them. They have met their life problem at its centre and everything else must follow along.
Let no one imagine that they will lose anything of human dignity by this voluntary sell-out of their all to their God. They do not by this degrade themselves as a human being; rather they find their right place of high honour as one made in the image of their creator. Their deep disgrace lay in their moral derangement, their unnatural usurpation of the place of God. Their honour will be proved by restoring again that stolen throne. In exalting God over all they find their own highest honour upheld.
Anyone who might feel reluctant to surrender their will to the will of another should remember Jesus’ words, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” (John 8:34)
We must of necessity be servant to someone, either to God or to sin. Sinners pride themselves on their independence, completely overlooking the fact that they are the weak slaves of the sins that rule their members. The person who surrenders to Christ exchanges a cruel slave driver for a kind and gentle master whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light. Made as we were in the image of God we scarcely find it strange to take again our God as our all. God was our original habitat and our hearts cannot but feel at home when they enter again that ancient and beautiful abode.
I hope it is clear that there is a logic behind God’s claim to preeminence. That place is his by every right in earth or heaven. While we take to ourselves the place that is his the whole course of our lives is out of joint. Nothing will or can restore order till our hearts make the great decision: God shall be exalted above.
“Them that honour me I will honour,” said God once to a priest of Israel, and that ancient law of the Kingdom stands today unchanged by the passing of time or the changes of dispensation. The whole Bible and every page of history proclaim the perpetuation of that law.
“If any person serves me, that person will my Father honour,” said our Lord Jesus, tying in the old with the new and revealing the essential unity of his ways with humankind.