I worked for a few weeks in 1999 at British Telecom’s Directory Enquiries centre in Torquay. The day I went for my second interview I had to park a little way from the centre. This was not a problem, and I enjoyed the walk to and from the parking place I had found. I walked slowly back from the interview and drank in the scenery. I enjoy drinking in the scenery. I look at trees and wonder at the awesome power that created them. The symmetry of their shape, the intricate complexity of their branches inter-twining with each other. Beautiful. I love trees, but that is another chapter. What caught my eye this day was a rooftop. The road I was compelled to walk to return to my car is some 50 feet or so above the main road, in fact it is at roof level with the buildings on it. That is what caught my eye. I noticed a group of statues on a rooftop opposite where I was walking. They stand there looking down onto the street below. I could see the people walking below them, never looking up. Oblivious of these magnificent figures above them looking down with their stone faces onto the world below these people carry on with their lives, unaffected and indifferent to their gaze.
It struck me that God is in a similar position to those statues in the opposite extreme. They look down onto the street with dead and unseeing eyes where he looks down with love and compassion, caring about every detail of their lives. Where they are unaffected by the goings on in the world below them, He is deeply touched by our actions in the daily course of our lives. Where the indifference towards the statue’s gaze will have no lasting effect on our lives, indifference to God’s gaze will lead to sin and death in our lives.
The statues being there or not, will never make a difference to our lives, unless one of them falls and lands on the street below. We can, however, never have a relationship with these statues. They are cold and hard, unfeeling and indifferent to everything we say and do. We can ignore them with no effect on our lives and never even know they are there. Jesus is so different. He longs to not just look at us from a rooftop, but to come down and walk alongside us. He wants to be there and make a difference in our lives. He is warm and caring, what we do in our days is infinitely important to Him as he goes about His people, after all, he did lay down His own life so that we could have the freedom to walk about.
There is one significantly important similarity between these statues and Jesus. Neither forces the person walking on the street to look up and acknowledge their existence. God will defend our decision to walk with Him to the end, but He will also defend our decision not to. If we hear His word and reject it, he will reach out with love through people towards us forever and a day. But in the final analysis he will never force us to accept anything against our will, whether it is prosperity, healing, deliverance or any other thing you can name. I believe He will even defend your choice to reject His love and go to hell if that is what you choose. We are invited to hear his voice with a warning “Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts as in the provocation” (Hebrews 3:7 & 15). They had to choose to hear Him. God was grieved with the generation that hardened their hearts towards him. In a way they were kind of like the statues. They were cold and indifferent to His voice and the Life he represented. We must strive in two directions then.
Firstly we must put our efforts into seeking to see God in everyday life, never being too busy to look up and acknowledge that Jesus is there looking out for us in a daily basis and rooting for us in what we do. Since it is He who has made us to be more than conquerors through His death and resurrection we must seek Him in all things.
Secondly we should keep our hearts soft to His voice calling to us in a quiet way. He is gently tugging our heartstrings and pulling our minds to seek him, but being aware that however powerful the pull is we are still in a position to turn away at a moments notice and reject Him if we are not careful to listen rather than be merely hearing. The sounds of the street and the people below reach the statues on the rooftop, but they are stone and the words have no effect on them. Also, unless they fall from the roof and land on someone they are unlikely to be able to change any lives.
Soft hearts, willing minds, available hands. These are the things God seeks from us. Hearts to hear his voice, minds to learn his ways, hands to do His will. It’s not so much, is it?