And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself (John 12:32 ESV).
God desires to draw us to himself. As a host invites guests to a party (Luke 14:16-24), and as a shepherd leads his sheep (John 10:1-4), God invites us to join him in the kingdom and to follow Jesus through a life of personal growth and Divine glory.
We may be inexorably drawn to that which is beautiful, to that which is unique, to that which is lovely. While Jesus is all of that and more, God desires to draw us to the crucified Jesus. The drawing power Jesus refers to is his death upon the cross (John 12:33).
If we are to come to Jesus, we must be drawn to him. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (John 6:45a). But that drawing is not some mysterious power, it is through the teaching of the Father (John 6:45), which is revealed in the gospel (1 Corinthians 2:6-16; Ephesians 3:1-13; Romans 1:16).
As our presence is requested, our presence can be refused. We have the freedom to allow ourselves to be drawn or to demur. An invitation can be declined, an offer can be rejected (see Luke 13:34).
Though God has the power to force us, he will not. God does not drive men to himself. Being driven is a drudgery. No one enjoys being forced to go where they would not, nor being coerced to do that which they would not. Some, it seems, feel driven to God, not by their own free will but by external forces. They are driven to God because of family commitments, habit, peer pressure, a need to belong, or any number of reasons.
One’s whole heart cannot be given to God if they feel forced to be near him. The Jews rebelled under similar circumstances (1 Corinthians 10:1-13). God is not interested in just outward action, he desires the whole heart.
While being driven is a drudgery, being drawn is a delight. Jesus invites us to rest (Matthew 11:28-30). He offers rest from the never-ending pressures of the world, from sin (Psalm 38:4), and from burdens that weigh us down (Hebrews 12:1). In him and through him we have peace (Romans 5:1-2), and through a lifetime of service to him we have joy (John 15:1-11).
Give up being driven to God. All that you will find is bitterness in your heart. Allow his goodness to draw you to him. It is never too late to be drawn to Jesus. The cross is still inviting, the word is still convicting, and Jesus is still captivating.