Question: "Does God pursue us?"
Answer: The Bible commands human beings to pursue God and promises that, when we do, we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). But it also tells us that God is the initiator of those spiritual pursuits (Psalm 53:2; Romans 3:10–12). Jesus said that no one can come to Him unless the Father first draws them (John 6:44). Jesus told several parables that illustrate God’s pursuit of mankind. The entire Bible is the story of God pursuing us.
From the very beginning, God has pursued us. After Adam and Eve sinned, they did not run toward God; they ran away from Him, hiding among the trees of the garden (Genesis 3:8). But God pursued them: “The Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’” (verse 9). It was the first missionary effort, as the Creator sought out His lost creatures. God has always had a heart of reconciliation.
Jesus used the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin (Luke 15:3–10) to teach that God pursues us. Jesus wanted us to understand the heart of God and that He knows each person intimately (Matthew 10:29–31; Psalm 139:13). Jesus’ mission on earth was to “seek and to save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). To seek something is to pursue it. We pursue love, money, fame, and relationships because they are important things to us. God pursues us because we are important to Him, being created in His image (Genesis 1:27).
God’s passionate pursuit of us involved sending His beloved Son to die in our place (John 3:16–18; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 9:15). Because we could not reach Him through our own efforts, He reached down to us. He pursues us even when we are obstinate: to the Israelites, God said, “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’ All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations—a people who continually provoke me to my very face” (Isaiah 65:1–3).
Jesus walked among the people He loved and lamented their spiritual stubbornness: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37). He had come in the flesh to pursue those He’d created, but they rejected Him (John 1:11–13). God’s message of redemption has gone out to the whole world. He has thrown open the doors of salvation, and whoever will may come (John 3:16; 12:46; Romans 1:16).
Through His followers, Jesus has continued to pursue men and women of every era, nation, tribe, and tongue (Revelation 5:9; Acts 2:38–39). His last words to the disciples were instructions for carrying out the work He had begun: “You will be my witnesses . . . to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Ever since, Jesus’ followers have continued to go into all the world, spreading the good news that God is pursuing a relationship with them.
God continues to pursue those who have trusted in Christ for salvation. Through His indwelling Holy Spirit, God comforts (James 4:8), corrects (2 Timothy 3:16), and compels His children to obey His Word. He disciplines us as part of His work in conforming us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29; Hebrews 12:5–7). He pursues a deeper commitment from us, because it is only as we abide in Him and He in us that we can bear much fruit for His kingdom (John 15:1–8). His pursuit is for our good. There is no greater honor in the universe than being the objects of the Lord God Almighty’s pursuit.