God told me to learn what this means:
“I can serve you and respect you and still be God.”
That may really mess you up in your thinking. You might ask these questions: “But isn’t God more concerned about what I do? How could He serve me and respect me when I get it all wrong? What if I am living in pride or selfishness? How can He serve me and respect me at all?”
All good questions. Check out what Paul Ellis says about being accepted:
The gospel is not an invitation to accept Jesus; it is the stunning announcement that he accepts you . Although the law reveals it is impossible for you to make yourself acceptable and pleasing to God, the gospel of acceptance declares that in Christ you have been made acceptable for eternity. Nothing you do can make you more or less pleasing to God than you already are. All this is to the praise of the glory of his grace. (“The Gospel in Ten Words” Ellis, Paul (2012-09-10).)
Our growing up is learning to believe and think differently. Our growing up is transitioning from independent lives to dependent lives. His only concern is how close we are to Him. His only “discipline” comes when we drift away, when we drift back to our independent way of thinking, acting, believing and trusting. I think we can get a good look at our thinking, who we are trusting, who we are really relying on when we ask hard questions like those above. If our thinking is still stuck in law, lists, performance, conditions and independence then we are perplexed by the thought of a God that could serve us and respect us when our behavior is far from perfect. The powerful breakthrough comes when those kinds of questions are no longer in our heads. Being conformed to the image of Christ looks very different.
Let me ask you a few questions that I bet you know the answers to right away (or maybe not).
Did Jesus worry if God was happy or sad about His walk on the Earth? Did Jesus worry if God approved of His performance? Did Jesus worry if He “got it right?” Did Jesus worry if He was operating out of pride or selfishness? Did Jesus present His “works” to God for approval? Did Jesus tailor His mission to get the respect of God?
Are you scratching your head now? I hope so. Those questions are strange aren’t they? They just don’t make sense. Your answer is either “of course not He is God” or “Jesus was in perfect harmony with the will of God” or something like that. The point is we should be in the same place. Of course we aren’t God (divine) but God says we are in Him and He in us and we are in Jesus and we are one and they all know us by our oneness.
John 17:22 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me
So what is left? Our surrender to His will, our total dependence on His leading, our complete trust in His path, our absolute resolve to believe His every word.
I don’t have it all figured out and don’t expect to in this life but here is an image that might help.
1 John 3:24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
John 14:20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him
I must be honest the word commandment has been a hard one for me. I grew up in a denomination that loved to use the word commandment. I would say that we knew about the “word” Grace but only understood law. The spirit of religion loves to use the word commandment to bring us back under law. So I used to stumble over “commandment” since I know in my heart Grace but hear the old teaching in my head. I asked God to please show me something that would stop the churn in my deception receptor (brain).
He showed me a river. He said this river is “my commandment.” As an example this river may be my “love your neighbor” river. When I say keep (cherish) or obey (harken to agree) I am saying “get in the river.” Your “doing” is believing. Your “works” are to get in. This is Grace. As a matter of fact if I am trying to “keep His commandments” in my effort it is like swimming against the stream or at least walking down the bank of the river instead of flowing with Him. It is falling from Grace. It is relying on self instead of Him. I like that river picture. I think it says a lot about God’s heart towards us.
So back to the statement “I can serve you and respect you and still be God.” The serve part I have covered in another post called “Servant King.” You should check it out. As for respect let me show you a couple of verses:
Rom 2:11 For there is no respect of persons with God. (KJV)
So what is the deal? It looks like God is impartial towards us, right? As with most things we shouldn’t jump to conclusions too quick and especially out of context. In the Romans passage that is how it begins but this is how it ends:
Rom 3: 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins (ESV)
Do you see it? He is the distinction. His righteousness is given to us through faith. It has nothing to do with our effort. That is His “impartiality.” We all have access through faith.
Here are two last verses:
Matt 3:17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (ESV)
Eph 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (ESV)
OK maybe this is a long way around the mountain, but here is how it comes together.
God loves you.
That was easy. He loves you so much that He died to save you. Jesus is still serving you today in Heaven as your great High Priest (Heb 6:20). God respects you because you are His son or daughter just like Jesus. When we are flowing in the river we are resting in Him, we are surrendered to Him. If we believe in Jesus then His Spirit lives in us and we abide in Him. We are actually one with Him. We are living His life. His respect for us is His respect for His son. Our challenge in life is to stop trying to do it ourselves and jump in the river instead! When we feel out of sorts with God it is likely we have stepped out of the river, we have stopped believing in who He says we are, we aren’t resting in Him, we aren’t trusting in His finished work. He says to jump back in. How easy is that?
He needs nothing from us but still loves us, that is His respect and our humility.