You can probably imagine I get this question sometimes. When you step out in faith, when you really trust God and agree with His awesomeness, sometimes you will find opposition. Jesus said He came to bring peace but also divide. The love of God is God Himself. He doesn’t give love or have the emotion of love or express love alone….no He IS love. Believe it or not some don’t want His love. Maybe they haven’t heard. Maybe they haven’t understood. Maybe they have been deceived. Maybe they just don’t know who they are. Regardless, the truth of His nature in pure, undiluted form, will bring decision. Just like a perfect mirror, God’s love will reveal everything. The power of His word (the word that became flesh) changes everything. He created a world because He loved us. He spoke a planet because He loved us. He became a man because He loves us. He became mankind because He loves us. He included us all in His master plan of acceptance because He loves us. He lives inside us because He loves us. He mysteriously joined Himself to each and every person across time and space for all eternity because He loves us. He made us all like Jesus because He loves us. We may choose to reject Him and His truth and His love and His “salvation” but it doesn’t change who He is. He is still love. In the revelatory light of His love, His goodness, His glory…who are you?
There is this Proverb you may have heard. It is often quoted “as a man thinketh, so is he.” (If you add “eth” to anything it makes it more profound.) Here is the actual verse:
Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. (KJV)
The context of the verse is quite different from the implied meaning. There is a rich guy who asks someone to dinner. They actually don’t trust each other. There are pleasantries and formalities but each one has his own agenda. The proverb is seen two ways. One says if you ask someone to dinner (which would be an intimate thing in the Hebrew tradition) then just because they eat your stuff doesn’t make them your friend. The other perspective is to shift the focus to the guest. If a rich dude is feeding you be careful because his motives may not be good. Either way the implication is “we are what we are thinking” or something like that.
There is such a powerful truth in that proverb. The three most important questions you will ever ask are 1. Who is God? 2. What does God think about you? 3. What do you think about you in the light of questions 1 and 2? Just like these two at the dinner party you and God are sitting at the table. While you eat what are you thinking about each other? Check out this verse in a couple of other translations:
Proverbs 23:7 For just as a man swallows a bristle hair, so you eat and drink with him and his mind is not with you. (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)
Proverbs 23:7 Because like a soothsayer, and diviner, he thinketh that which he knoweth not. Eat and drink, will he say to thee: and his mind is not with thee. (Douay-Rheims Bible)
Proverbs 23:7 They are always thinking about how much it costs. “Eat and drink,” they say, but they don’t mean it. (New Living Translation)
What you are thinking or perceiving is controlling everything. If God is a “bristle hair” to you or you think you are a “bristle hair to Him” then that “hair” is caught in your throat and keeps you from enjoying your food. The next verse actually says this:
Proverbs 23:8 You will vomit up the morsels that you have eaten, and waste your pleasant words. (ESV)
If you believe God wants something from you or you believe God hasn’t delivered on a promise, then you are “counting the cost” and missing each other’s heart. If you are “divining” or trying to “read the tea leaves” then you are missing out on the great food and conversation that is available. When you are unsure in your mind about God’s intentions and nature you are never settled. When you doubt His intentions and expect the “hammer to fall” any minute then you miss out on His provision and love. When you believe that you are a “wretched sinner that can only be delivered by your death”….then you are not being saved. Sorry to be so blunt, but Jesus died to save us all. If we reject the finished work of the cross we are choking on hairs in our food.
Check out this saying in the Talmud:
“My son, eat not the bread of the covetous, nor sit thou at his table. The bread of the covetous is only pain and anguish; the bread of the generous man is a source of health and joy.”
Is God generous or is He covetous? That sounds like a ridiculous question, right? Well if you are looking in the mirror and seeing a pile of poop because you believe God sees a pile of poop and is waiting for you to clean up your poop pile…then God is covetous to you. If you are seeing the finished work of JESUS then you should be seeing JESUS looking back at you. Then God is generous to you.
This isn’t my original concept by the way. This is what Paul said:
1Co 2:1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (ESVST)
Does your faith rest on the “power of God?” Do you see that Jesus did enough? Do you see the power of the cross made you a new creation? Can you accept what Jesus did on the cross without our permission? That is seeing a generous God. OK, Paul also said this:
1Co 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (ESVST)
I used to read this verse very differently. Now I see the power of the cross. When we can get past our “human wisdom” and “religious paradigms” and see that Jesus transcends our wisdom and our fallen attempts at religion and saves all of mankind without our agreement…then we are being saved NOW. When we reject the finished work of Jesus for another religious folly we miss Grace completely. Our “free will” is exercised in our surrender to what He already did for us. That is the power of God that saves us.
We must find our wisdom in Him. We must get a revelation of our loving Father who is love and our loving savior who did it ALL for ALL:
1Co 1:30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (ESVST)
So maybe this is a stretch for you. It was and still is for me. I had to surrender my “need” for control and my “seeing is believing” mindset. I had to trust my Father for His wisdom and understanding. I had to just let it go and give in to His faith. He finished it all and He is quite confident that He did a good job. When I trust what He has said about what He has done I effortlessly fall in love with Him. His faithfulness is my faith. I “listen” to what He says about me and what He thinks about me. It is just like this verse:
New International Version
Rom 10:17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
Here it is in another translation:
Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Rom 10:17 Therefore faith is from the hearing ear, and the hearing ear is from the word of God.
I’ll leave you with this “word” from Him.
New International Version
1 John 4:17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.
The day of judgment is every day. When we let God love us we are made complete. When we see God is love we are made complete. When we see that God’s love removes any thought of punishment, we are made complete. When we have faith and confidence in who God says we are and what He thinks about us then we are JUST LIKE JESUS NOW.
So if someone asks me now “just who do you think you are?” I respond…”I am Lance and I am just like Jesus.”