What I know I can’t explain, but I feel it. I’ve felt it for a long time… I don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought me to this post.
I started trying to satisfy this “itch” with my previous posts titled, “A Hope that does not disappoint” and “Do you know why you were saved?” I think I came close with “Doing the work of God” last year. Even though they all had good points, I felt like I got off track from where I wanted to go, so the elusive “splinter” remains…and so I keep repeating myself.
What is this splinter? Again, I wish I could explain it adequately.
The closest I can come up with right now is that we seem to live our lives like slaves rather than sons. (Of course, I mean daughters, too.)
I’m not talking about being slaves to sin, but living like a slave, as though we’re not in the family and in intimate union with our heavenly Father. Because of this slave mindset, we focus on trying to please God by doing what we think He wants without actually “knowing” what He wants. Something seems rather sad about the whole thing.
We do a lot of noble things for Christ, and they’re even biblical. The trouble is, an orphan slave can do all those things, too. It’s still us, outside looking in, not doing much more than imitating the Christian life.
It seems we’ve turned Christianity into a slave religion instead of it being about relationship in our heavenly Father’s Divine Family. And because of this, we become dysfunctional in all of our other relationships. We throw them away when they don’t suite us but continue to serve God like a slave.
Our “Christianity” starts to look like someone whose job is more important than their marriage…or their family.
What we do and believe becomes more important than who we were meant to be—a beloved child of God who has learned how to love.
Slavery is all about “have-to” and punishment for disobedience; sonship is about identity and affirmation in a loving Family relationship. Servants don’t know what their master is doing, but sons and daughters do because their Father has brought them into partnership as friends and gladly reveals it to them (John 15:15).
A slave hears Jesus tell him to pray, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” then goes and recites the words verbatim, as if that’s what Jesus meant. Ironically, what he thinks is obedience is actually doing exactly what Jesus told him not to do, using “vain repetitions as the heathen do.” (Matt.6:7-10).
A son asks the Father what His will looks like and does that.
Jesus said something at the conclusion of His “Sermon on the Mount” that’s often used against people who believe in healing, deliverance or prophecy.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matt.7:21-23 NKJV)
Was Jesus saying this just to give Cessationists ammunition to use against Charismatics? Really? I don’t think so. Actually, He could’ve just as easily added, “And all you who teach the Bible, evangelize, pastor a church, have great radio ministries, go after false teachers, feed the hungry and help the poor…”
I think His point was that it’s not about what we do or don’t do; the question is…do we “know” Him?
Because what He wants from us…is us.
Of course, we have the Bible to tell us a lot about what God wants. But let me ask you a question: was Paul called to be an apostle to the Gentiles by reading the Bible?
Oftentimes, when I ask these kinds of questions, sincere and committed Christians will stare at me like I just started speaking Klingon.
Maybe you’re staring at me right now. 🙂
The Greek word for “know” here is ginōskō, which is a rather generic word, so context determines how it’s meant. Obviously, Jesus isn’t saying that He doesn’t know about these professed worshipers. He knows “about” every human being who ever lived. The context must be more intimate and relational, like the relational knowing found in intimacy between two lovers.
For instance, the same word is used in Matthew 1:25 (parenthetic added):
But Joseph did not have sexual relations (ginōskō) with her until her son was born…. (Matt.1:25 ERV)
Of course, Jesus was not talking about sexual intimacy but relational union and experiential knowledge found in relationship.
This is my point.
God’s eternal purpose was NOT about forgiveness but adoption. We weren’t forgiven just so we could go to heaven, or called to serve God like a slave so we could get other people to go to heaven. We were forgiven so we could become His sons and daughters (bold type added):
just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world… having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will (Eph.1:4-5 NKJV)
Consider how Jesus defined doing ministry (bold type added):
Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does… (John 5:19-20a NKJV)
According to Jesus, ministry is impossible outside of intimacy. It’s borne out of love. It’s living in the Father’s embrace, knowing His heart in any given situation, and revealing it to others.
See Father do…do ministry.
We seem to have it all backwards.
You might be tempted to say, that was Jesus, I’m not Jesus, but you would be wrong in your thinking. You are Jesus in this world (1 John 4:17). What that means is, you died and He is your life (Gal.2:20; Col.3:3). Our problem is not that it’s impossible, it’s that we’re not even thinking this way. And that’s not just sad, it’s tragic.
Slaves do ministry because that’s what they think God wants. Sons actually know what He wants and do ministry. This is because they know Him.
This is the stunning truth we all need to embrace: we’re no longer slaves, but sons.
Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (Gal.4:7 NKJV)
NOTE: If this reminds you of a certain song by Jonathan & Melissa Helser, you can watch the video on my other post titled, “No longer slaves.” 🙂