Everyone is seeking something. It’s what we do. Let’s think of this perhaps in synonymous terms: seeking, pursuing, desiring, longing, hungering, chasing, wanting. These all require an investment of who we are—our resources—our time and money—our energy—even our very breath. Whether in the material/physical or emotional sense, these efforts can range from the bare essentials of life to the most extravagant expenditures. Yet, we all have a need for something that is much, much deeper—much more essential than any physical or emotional need—that of the spirit. Ever since Adam and Eve broke the perfect relationship, fellowship, and communion that they had in worshiping and enjoying the Creator, the human race has been plagued with what A.W. Tozer terms “spiritual amnesia”. We don’t know the who or what or why or how or where or when of our existence. Unless and until this need is recognized and responded to, we are nothing more than the living dead. In Matt 6:25-34, we see Jesus present in simple terms the anxiety that arises from being misguided in that which we seek. We are not to be anxious about what we’ll eat or drink or wear. Rather, we must “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” … but, what does that mean? What does that look like in real life?
First of all, Jesus identifies the audience herein whom He knows can receive this truth—“your heavenly Father knows”. If you’re still among the living dead, this teaching won’t resonate with you. Remember Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, who came to learn from Jesus in secret. Nicodemus seems to speak to Jesus with a sort of consternation—recognizing Jesus mighty works, yet unable to understand Who Jesus is.
3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
In the new birth, the re-birth of our spirit, we enter back into a right relationship with the Divine—the relationship Adam and Eve broke. Paul describes this to the Romans:
you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
If you have not been born-again … If your heart doesn’t cry out, “Abba! Father!” … please, don’t hesitate to confess and repent of your sin and be born-again into the life of Jesus today.
And that is only the beginning! Now, “seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness” is personal. It begins to make sense in the light of Who my Father is. Yet, within me there is often a lingering conflict. The Spirit of God within me that bears witness to my adoption can feel like a foreign invader. The ambassador of kingdom of God is within me. He is Holy! Yet everything within me is so much less than Holy and so much a part of my very nature. Paul cries out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom 7:24) The agony of knowing that Love Who has found us, redeemed us, and begun a good work in us, at the same time—by His presence indwelling us—reveals everything in us that is not of love.
The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Heb 12:14) Can we ever be free or are we left to live out our days on earth in this awkward bondage with an ever increasing knowledge of Holiness that increasingly exposes our unholiness?
Mildred Wynkoop [a theologian and evangelist to Japan in the 1960’s] has illustrated this by asking [us] to imagine [ourselves] as suffering from defective kidneys and the only hope of surviving is to go to kidney dialysis several times a week. If your kidneys don’t work, there is no hope in yourself; your blood supply is self-polluting. The only hope lies outside yourself. You must be attached periodically to a machine to cleanse your blood. But suppose you could avoid the tiresome trip several times a week for dialysis. Suppose you could be attached somehow to a healthy friend, so that your friend’s kidneys could cleanse your own self-polluting blood. Suppose that this friend was willing to be connected to you. As long as you stayed connected to this friend and walked step by step, your friend would insure a continuing perfection of your blood supply. Would you do this if it were your only hope in living? If you did, you’d have to develop an entirely different lifestyle wouldn’t you? You’d have to go everywhere your friend went.
(Drury, Keith (2009-05-01). Holiness for Ordinary People 25th Anniversary Edition (Kindle Locations 1815-1823). Wesleyan Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)
You see the picture that begins to appear. We have an active role to take in decisively choosing holiness and purity of heart. Paul exhorts the Corinthians to consider that they, as temples of the living God, must seek purity. “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” (2 Cor 7:1) You ask, but how am I to cleanse myself?
The sanctification of God’s people, the Body of Christ, is imperative–and essential to that process is God’s Word. In Paul’s instruction to the Ephesians on marriage (5:25-27) he draws the parallel of the profound mystery of our marriage to Christ. Just as a bride would go through a prenuptial ritual of washing which became known in Judaism as her sanctification, so we, as the Bride of Christ, are “cleansed … with the washing of water by the word” as Jesus, by His Spirit, makes us ready for His great wedding feast!
We must immerse ourselves continually in the living Word. We must read and search and study and meditate upon the written Word. Not only did we receive the Holy Spirit at our new birth, we must seek and receive the Holy Spirit of the living Word again and again in new and fresh fullness and anointing. “When asked why he constantly spoke about being filled with the Spirit, Dwight L. Moody responded succinctly, “I leak.” We all leak.”
(Drury, Keith (2009-05-01). Holiness for Ordinary People 25th Anniversary Edition (Kindle Locations 1800-1801). Wesleyan Publishing House. Kindle Edition.)
But my brothers and sisters, be assured and comforted—we are not abandoned to our own feeble resources. The same Spirit Who indwells, empowers. For He is the Spirit of the living God Who seeks and desires that we be restored to that for which we were created. Jesus said, “the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” (John 4:23) If we doubt in any way our Father’s willingness and desire, hear the words of Paul to the Thessalonians. 23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thess. 5:23-24)