To Serve or Seek
But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his works may be revealed, that they have been done in God. (John 3:21)
This verse is the last part of Jesus' definition of Judgment, a very valuable insight to diffuse false fears about judgment. Yet this last phrase has offered me many hours of pondering over just what it means by he who does the truth. Associated with this is also the phrase he who does the truth. What do these mean in the light of the true gospel?
Today I took a much closer look at another passage that brings a great deal of light into this for me. The more I look at it the more amazed I am at the incredible implications emerging from these phrases.
The God who made the world and all things in it, he, being Lord of heaven and earth, doesn't dwell in temples made with hands, neither is he served by men's hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he himself gives to all life and breath, and all things. He made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the surface of the earth, having determined appointed seasons, and the boundaries of their dwellings, that they should seek the Lord, if perhaps they might reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live, and move, and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also his offspring.'
Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold, or silver, or stone, engraved by art and design of man. The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked. But now he commands that all people everywhere should repent. (Acts 17:24-30)
First I might say that it wasn't until I received a huge breakthrough in my appreciation of the real truth about what it means to be in Christ that most of this made much sense for me. The key for me to finally begin to make sense out of what Scripture is talking about when it keeps referring to being in Christ came when I finally received the insight that my identity is in no way tied to my past behavior or anything else about my life. My history or malfunctions or achievements have all contributed to how I feel and act and relate to others today, but I must never imagine any of those to affect my thinking about what is my true value and identity. Only my Creator and Redeemer has authority to define who I am, and that definition is totally settled and secured, not by my accepting Jesus but rather when He earned the full authority to represent all of us by replacing Adam as the true Father of the human race. Once I finally realized these things and sorted them out properly in my thinking, I was finally able to study all the passages referring to 'in Christ' and actually believe them for the first time in my life.
From this new perspective I begin to see a little better what Jesus might have had in mind when He refers to those who do the truth and how that relates to their works being done in God. I begin to see that what I do is always in the context of being in Christ. Since Christ is God, then all my works must be done in God since it all is the same. Yet there is still the issue of my malfunctioning works/behavior. Is all that done in God too? This really challenges a lot of assumptions and religious notions all over the place. Yet I remain open to what the Spirit continues to bring to me progressively as it just keeps getting more exciting. And because James assures me that God is very liberal in giving wisdom to anyone who asks for it, I am basking in the joy of receiving more and more wisdom about this as I stay tuned to His Spirit and open to increased light.
As I look more closely at the words of Paul here when addressing to the people in Athens who were hungering after anything they thought might be God, I noticed many more things I had never imagined were here before. I suppose most of the time I tend to read this story and only apply it to the pagans Paul was addressing. Yet in doing so I now realize I missed enormously important insights that challenge even more of my spiritual paradigms again. I am getting used to having God rattle my cage repeatedly as He keeps seeking to expand my horizons about what He is like and how He relates to us.
What is jumping out at me initially here has far-reaching implications, yet entirely consistent with everything else I have been learning about the contrast between the two competing principles in the opposing kingdoms in the supernatural realm. Paul says here that God is not into being served by anything we might be able to do, as if He needed anything. That itself presents a massive challenge to nearly everything taught by religion, for our mindset has almost always been along the lines of how we are expected to serve God. Yet Paul says this is not what God wants or needs from any of us.
His counterpoint to this is what he says God is longing for us to experience in relation to Him. He designed and created us to seek Him, to reach out for Him as well as to find Him. Just writing those phrases does something inside my own heart right now. It makes me keenly aware of many things God has been showing me for many years, that I am created for intimacy in close fellowship with God and with others, not a relationship of obligation and duty performed from mixed motives of love and fear. He has made it very to me that love and fear are totally incompatible with each other, so all attempts to rely on both of these to motivate me into obedience are doomed to failure.
We know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and he who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. In this love has been made perfect among us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, even so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment. He who fears is not made perfect in love. We love Him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:16-19)
I can hardly begin to articulate the sense of freedom and joy this truth has been bringing to me over recent years. The truth that fear is no part of God's plan for my life constantly undermines so many lies I have suffered under all my life, and my growing awareness of God's impassioned love for me just keeps increasing in my awareness. What amazes me is the depth of the hardness within me that still resists believing this reality and how long it is taking for the healing, melting qualities of that love to accomplish what He is after – a trusting, transparent relationship between His heart and mine.
Yet this is what Paul had in mind as he explains that God created all of us to seek after Him, to reach out for Him and find Him. This is true religion, true spirituality, true fulfillment that brings the greatest satisfaction for our deepest longings. We were made for love, not for servitude. Satisfaction only comes from having our heart connected at the deepest level with other hearts, especially and most deeply with the Source of our heart's desire, our Creator's heart. Nothing else can even come close to addressing effectively the cravings of our soul, and any attempt to find fulfillment, peace and joy from any other source or activity is false worship, chasing after other gods.
False religion comes from attempts to satisfy the deepest longings inside us by other means to feel loved, valued, to feel whole and complete. Yet to accept any other version of our identity than what God says about us is to embrace a false identity that will only result in developing a character like a hologram instead of a real person. A hologram can be ever so convincing visually, yet if you try to hug or interact physically with a hologram the experience will be intensely disappointing. Yet that is exactly what is produced when we rely on an external religion or system of rules to form our character. We may produce a character that can convince people around us that we are real or nice, that we measure up to some set of human standards. Yet on the day of revelation of reality according to how God designed us to live, when true love is the only thing left in place, it will suddenly be obvious who has allowed God to re-create His character/likeness reflecting His image in them in sharp contrast with everyone who produced nothing more than an attractive hologram but without anything of substance left with which they can connect and interact with the real people.
But according to your hardness and unrepentant heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath, revelation, and of the righteous judgment of God. (Romans 2:5)
The difference between servile thinking and seeking God's heart may appear insignificant at first, but the outcome is jarring in its contrast. Trying to be right with the world and our skewed perception of reality without allowing our hearts to be ravished by the love of our Creator may produce an outward appearance of rectitude, yet it is devoid of the things that matter most to our heart, things like intimacy in vulnerability, freedom from all fear and shame, humility with self-confidence, genuine peace, spontaneous joy and compassion flowing from deep within a heart transformed by incoming love.
We may be able to feign having the appearance of faith for a season, yet if they do not flow naturally out of a heart transformed by receiving from the original Source so that they are simply reflected naturally in our lives, it will be impossible to keep up these appearances when all hell breaks loose and reality breaks in. When we are exposed by intense circumstances that challenge our version of reality and what we truly believe God is like, we experience what is called judgment, that simply being exposed by the light of truth of reality that exposes what is deep in the heart beyond all the facades we have relied on previously. When brilliant light, far brighter than the orchestrated lights that create a hologram, suddenly shines directly on the spot where the hologram is situated, it becomes obvious that there is nothing of substance there but merely an illusion without any real body present.
This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. (John 3:19)
The reality that governs all heaven is a condition far more real than anything we think is real in our severely limited capacity to comprehend presently. We tend to think of spiritual things as less real and more nebulous or ethereal than our physical world of proofs and test tube definitions. Yet the spiritual is not less real but actually the true reality in which we were designed to thrive. This reality operates by hearts synchronized with the heart of the Creator and reflecting everything freely received from His generous heart of infinite love. We can enter this reality now, but it can only be experienced as we freely choose to live each moment from the place of seeking His face and His heart. What will then be reflected from our heart will be a reflection of the glory of His selfless, passionate agape love.
But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
By seeking God's face, seeking God's heart, seeking God's glory more than anything else, we become reflectors of that same glory. We become empowered to then interact with others the same way we see God interacting with us. We cannot avoid the principle that to be human means to reflect what we picture God to be like. Sin terribly distorts and twists our perceptions and ideas about God, sometimes with dark ideas of a powerful being having mixed motives who can be manipulative and intimidating. Believing such things, we reflect the same image in our lives and become like the god we imagine is in control. The only way to escape the sin and malfunction in our lives is to correct our perceptions of the Source we reflect by allowing the Spirit of God to infuse us with new truth and pure love so that our reflection is of the true God who is only light, love and truth just like Jesus revealed. This is a process called sanctification, being made safe so that the reflection of the true glory of God may be seen in our lives untainted by distortions we previously had that perpetuated the lies of His accuser.
One of the lies that permeates and infects our imagination is the lie that God is all into rule-keeping and relates to His children relying on rewards and punishments to gain obedience and keep law and order. Because we operate our societies and religions using this method, we cannot imagine God would do anything different. Yet this false view of God and how reality functions as heaven does it,is the very foundation of sin. So long as we cling to such views of a supposed need for balance between good and evil we will continue to form characters like holograms rather than like God's based purely on love.
Seeking God instead of imagining that He demands a mindset of servitude means we realize that what He longs for more than anything else is a heart connection with us. This does not mean we will not serve anyone or serve Him; what it does mean is that our service will be spontaneous from hearts overflowing with gratitude rather than out of fear of censure or punishment if we fail to measure up to expectations. When Paul says that God is not served by men's hands but rather is the one who gives to everyone else, he refutes entire systems of philosophy and religion driving us to live in fear that God takes offense when we don't do what is right and imagining that He expects to be appeased to get Him to let go of those offenses. This entire false reality of how God relates to us is rooted in the ideas of commerce, the system of earning and deserving along with manipulation and control.
Commercial thinking in relationships suffocates the way we were designed to live – in freedom, joy, vulnerability, intimacy and mutual love. Any who are willing to allow God access to their heart, He will restore back to His original design for them. He can heal us so we will once again reflect His glory, the unconditional, unaffected love that defines His heart. Commercial thinking introduces the conditions we imagine that love and acceptance demand. But this is not God's kind of love. We were designed to reflect trie, unconditional love we receive freely from our Creator which over time can develop in us the likeness of His image in our own characters to where we perfectly resemble the image implanted in us by His Son.
It was through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus who became a human being like us that He won the right to define our true identity after Adam ruined the original image created in us. Through His life and teachings we find our true identity, the new image implanted in every human being along with instructions on what it looks like to live according to our original design instead of living in fear caused by thinking God is all about rule-keeping more than living in relationships from the heart level.
Jesus demonstrated openly how a human was designed to live, in constant alignment with His Father's heart, ever receiving blessings, love, strength and joy each day while reflecting everything He received from His Father on to others at all times. Jesus lived above the simplistic rule-keeping mentality of religious people and was often accused of being a law-breaker as a result. Yet He never allowed censure, threats or accusations to affect His tight connection of dependence on His Father to rattle His secure identity as God's loved Son. And His example of simply reflecting everything He received from God all the time is not beyond our capacity to do, but it does require a huge paradigm shift in our perceptions and thinking about God's expectations and His ways of relating to us.
I have spoken these things to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is my commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant doesn't know what his lord does. But I have called you friends, for everything that I heard from my Father, I have made known to you. You didn't choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatever you will ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
When God gives commands, He is not wanting us to view them through our legal lenses imagining that His commands are demands for us to comply with or else. Rather, God is the Creator and His words have inherent power of fulfillment within them. As we come into alignment with the truth about His love, moving away from the fear that legal thinking always produces in the heart, we will see more clearly that God's commands are glorious invitations to enter into deeper intimacy with His heart. His commands when embraced by the beings He invested Himself in, become the very source of power unleashed in the heart for those very instructions to be actualized. The inherent power to obey God's commands can only be unleashed in the heart that is reflecting the true glory of God's heart, never from vain attempts to keep His commands outside a relationship of vulnerability and dependency on our Creator. God's commands contain the enabling power to live them because His creative power is contained in His words just as His words actualized the universe as the result of His commands.
To imagine that when God commands us to obey, He requires that we first obey His commands before He will accept and love us is to embrace a false view of God that can become an idol for us that we worship. The myriads of false ideas we have about how God feels about us can just as surely become false god worship as any carved image that a heathen might bow down to looking to receive blessing or protection. Dark pictures of God are just as damaging if not more, than the darkness of the minds of heathens imagining that their gods must be served and/or appeased to leverage them to do what they need done and receive what they want from them. Our gods may be gods of commerce, commerce being our entire way of thinking which involves trading, bartering, seeking to earn favor or to escape punishment or earn rewards for pleasing others or supernatural beings. All of these ideas originated with the first great apostate who invented everything related to commerce that became the foundation of his entire system attempting to replace God's government based on family relationships alone.
Each one of us chooses each day which system to embrace. Will we cling to the dark views of God involving earning and deserving or placating, trying to keep His commands, rules and regulations so we can be accepted and rewarded by Him? Or will we allow His Spirit to bring in a whole new awareness of the real truth about God's infinite heart of passionate love, unconditional forgiveness (because He never takes offense to start with) and His overwhelming desire to restore us to reflecting the same things in our lives as we see in His? Will we turn away from the fear that comes from feeling we have to earn anything to resting in assurance that we are always accepted, loved as children learning to fit into a caring family? Families don't deal in commerce with each other but relate from emotional bonds of affection. This is God's way of life that we were designed for and where we find true joy.
If you have sinned, what effect do you have against him? If your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to him? If you are righteous, what do you give him? Or what does he receive from your hand? Your wickedness may hurt a man as you are, and your righteousness may profit a son of man. (Job 35:6-8)
Will we continue to think God expects us to serve Him as if we can affect His attitude towards us? Or can we begin to turn our focus toward seeking Him with our heart, rejecting all the fear-based notions about Him that have locked our hearts in fear for so long as we avoid being real with Him? Seeking God is the path to knowing God, for He is eager for us to find Him. But we have to learn to seek with our heart at least as much as with our mind if not much more if we expect to find Him the way He wants us to know Him.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says Yahweh, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end. You shall call on me, and you shall go and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You shall seek me, and find me, when you shall search for me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says Yahweh, and I will turn again your captivity.... (Jeremiah 29:11-14)
So, coming back full circle, maybe in this context it might be a bit more clear what Jesus had in mind regarding doing the truth and all our works being done in God.
But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his works may be revealed, that they have been done in God. (John 3:21)
Coming to the light means embracing the real truth about how God feels about us as exposed by Jesus. Doing the truth is not so much about getting our act together but rather believing the truth as it is in Jesus, coming to see God in such a positive light that we lose our fears and His attractions draw us inexorably toward His heart. As we come to see that God is exactly as much in love with us as is Jesus and longs for us to live in His love, we also learn that our true identity is that every one of us is a love, fully accepted and highly valued child of the Father of the universe. And that because we are in Christ already, fully identified in Him as God's beloved child, then everything we do is in God just as Jesus is in God and God in Him.
Instead of fearing that we cannot be accepted by God until our behavior improves enough, we can accept the truth that Paul spoke to the pagans in Athens before they knew anything about God. For in him we live, and move, and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also his offspring.' We really are the offspring of God and as such can rest in His love just as any young child can rest assured that their parents (godly ones that is) will never abandon or harm them. Filled with assurance that they are loved and accepted no matter how badly they might fail at trying hard new things, they don't worry about their standing in the family but are free to experiment, make mistakes and learn because they are loved and accepted in the family because that is just who they are by birth.
This is what it means to be born again. It means letting go of our fears brought on by believing dark things about our heavenly Parents and embracing the truth that we are passionately loved and therefore never have any reason to be afraid. With our identity secure in what Jesus says about us, no one can steal that identity and we are free to mature, advance, make mistakes and learn in joy and peace.