By Jordan West

CLEVELAND, Ga., TMNews – Truett-McConnell President Dr. Emir Caner implored students with a challenge at TM’s first weekly chapel service of the spring semester. He taught through 1 Corinthians 13 as he preached on making seeing the face of God a believer’s highest desire.

Desire and love of Christ

Caner introduced 1 Corinthians 13, saying, “It is the most used and most read for a wedding ceremony.”

He continued, “Now, I don’t want to burst your bubble, but 1 Corinthians 13 has nothing to do with holy matrimony. The context of it is spiritual gifts. This is not about romance.”

Caner did draw some parallels between the passage and the marriage ceremony. He said, “The delicate event of the veil opening and the face being seen, why is it so special?”

He explained, “Your pursuit for God has its highest calling and its deepest yearning in seeing the face of God. If you follow Jesus and your greatest yearning is not to see His face, you will miss out on the glorious culmination of Jesus coming back.”

“Listen, Jesus is not your greatest doctrine,” Caner emphasized, “He is not your highest tradition. He is not your most incredible experience. He is not your great worldview. He is not your regular habit. He is not even your deepest emotion.”

Caner assured, “He is your greatest desire.”

Pursuit of God from the beginning

Caner reminded students, “Your pursuit in life is Him! Man created in the image of God enjoyed intimate fellowship face to face with our Lord in the Garden of Eden until Genesis chapter 3 when the fall comes.”

He continued, “What is the first question our Lord is going to present to fallen man and fallen woman but this question – where are you? From there, the rest of redemption’s story points its way to man finally seeing Jesus face to face.”

Caner encouraged students to think about their motivation. He asked, “Why do you do what you do? Why do you spend so much money going to college?”

He said, “There are clinicals for nurses, observation for education, ministry for those who are ministers, business, marketing, and accounting – and if it’s for any other reason than the intimacy of the presence of God and to see Him face to face, you will miss out.”

Caner implored several questions of the congregation in their pursuit of seeing Christ face to face.

He first asked, “Is Jesus your toolbox or is Jesus your treasure?”

Edifying God with spiritual gifts

1 Corinthians 13 references love and spiritual gifts. Caner explained, “Spiritual gifts are not given for you, they are given for others. It would be ridiculous if they were selfish!”

Caner explained that if all a believer does is talk about doing good things but they do not love, they live meaningless lives. He inquired, “Do you want to be loud or do you want to show love? If you have not loved, the apostle Paul says that you are nothing.”

He detailed that selfishness causes downfall. Caner said, “Paul said that selfishness was the problem with the Corinthian church. Selfishness led to sexual immorality, divorcing each other, and suing each other.”

He continued, “Paul said to them, ‘What you’re missing is that you no longer pursue the face of God, instead you look inwardly.’ Jesus had become their toolbox instead of their treasure, and that will never satisfy.”

He turned the query on the congregation, saying, “The problem that you may find yourself in this morning is that when you don’t look for the gates of Christ you may find yourself simply recognizing Jesus as someone that can do things for you not as a treasure you awaken to every morning to be in His presence.”

Focusing on eternal matters

Caner asked the second question, questioning, “Are your eyes set on the temporary or are they given to the eternal?”

He listed temporary problems, asking, “Have you ever been irritated? Have you ever taken joy in someone else’s fall? Have you ever made a list of what’s wrong with someone just to prop yourself up a bit?”

Caner emphasized, “Life only matters when you point towards the eternal.”

In believers’ time on earth, they can never truly know the glory of God. Caner said, “We see through a mirror in part. We have partial knowledge – this mirror doesn’t really show a perfect reflection of yourself or what you’re trying to look at. You see through a mirror of darkness.”

He continued, “But in glory, you see Him face to face. That’s the highest goal, the great Messiah.”

Seeking God in fullness

Caner went on, “Jesus isn’t your greatest doctrine. He is your Savior, your father, your Prince of Peace. He is the one for whom you were created. Faith is about knowing him so that one day you can see him in his fullness.”

He referenced George Blaurock, an Anabaptist theologian and namesake of TM’s Student Wellness Center. After suffering for the faith, Blaurock left behind two hymns and Caner quoted the words of one:

“Grant, Oh Lord, so that we may be thankful, that we may joyfully behold You, our Father. Grant that when the kingdom comes, we may receive the higher with rejoicing.”

As he closed, he challenged the congregation with his final question, asking, “Is Jesus your tradition, or is he your highest desire? Do you long to see Jesus more than anything else?”

In conclusion, Caner begged students to seek Jesus, “Fully, perfectly, intimately, and eternally.”


Jordan is a senior English major and an intern for the Communications Department.

Photo/Adam Roark/TM Design Manager

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