“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
– Matthew 5:43-48
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
– Romans 12:1-2
“God is saying, ‘I stand ready to pour a liquid fire into your heart, into your spiritual being.’
“We respond: ‘No, Lord, please excuse me. That sounds like fanaticism – and I would have to give up some things!’ So we refuse His desire, although we want all the benefits of His cross.
“There is this thoughtful phrase in The Cloud of Unknowing: ‘He wills thou do but look on Him and let Him alone.’ Let God alone. In other words, let Him work! Don’t stop Him. Don’t prevent Him from kindling your heart, from blessing you and leading you out of a common state into that of special longing after Him.”
– Rev. A. W. Tozer, I Talk Back to the Devil
Rev. Tozer also added that God was the Physician, and we are the patient. I can see us trying to grab the scalpel and direct where the incision should be. Of course, God can remove this or that from our lives as long as we aren’t fond of this or that. Rev. Tozer added, “Let Him work and your spiritual life will be ablaze like the rising sun.”
I could have just used Romans 12 as the scripture. It talks about God’s perfect will. We think we have it all worked out. We have this plan for our life, but that might not mesh with what God wants. We haven’t been “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I am not saying that we aren’t saved. It just might be better if we pursue God’s plan.
What is God’s plan for me? First, I have to pray. I have to read God’s Word. And I have to listen for God’s voice.
I added the portion of the Sermon on the Mount regarding loving your enemies for a reason. There are at least three thoughts in this passage. Loving our enemies is thinking outside the box. After all, if we didn’t dislike them, are they really enemies? Loving enemies isn’t the only radical thinking that you find in Jesus’ teaching. Jesus turned the Old Testament Law on its ear. He abolished nothing. But He changed the focus from rule following to a relationship with the God of the Universe. Yet, most humans prefer the objective rules. Our minds are trapped in the box. Secondly, we are to be good and do good things for enemies and strangers, doing for people that may not be able to reciprocate or might not have the inclination to reciprocate. In other words, even the pagans are good to their neighbors when they think there is a reward in the good work. And thirdly, God is perfect. Who are we to argue with God and with God’s plan.
That’s where Tozer is going with his discussion related to the fourteenth century book, The Cloud of Unknowing. Our problem is that we don’t seek God’s will, and even when we clearly understand God’s will, it’s hard for us to stay on track. We keep making our own modifications to His plan.
Yet, what of Rev. Tozer’s assertion that God is about to grant us the gift of ‘liquid fire into [our] hearts?’ I have experienced entire churches that would run from that idea. As Rev. Tozer expressed, it would seem too much like fanaticism. Have entire denominations forsaken the greatest earthly gift from God just to avoid fanaticism? Is there some hidden rule within church polity that states, “We shall remain frozen at all cost?” Don’t get me wrong. I had my rebellious youth exhibited in my college years by attending a Southern Baptist church for a few months. Each Sunday, people to the left, to the right, in front, and behind me would jump up and scream, “Amen!” or “Right ON!” (It was the early 70s.) or “Tell it to us, Preacher!” or other such encouragement. I became a nervous wreck. I went back to my quieter form of worship to calm my nerves. But I’m not talking about ‘worship’ for the hour on Sunday. I’m talking about the other 167 hours of the week. You can be a “frozen chosen” for an hour if that is the style of worship you prefer, and still be ablaze like the rising sun once you shake the preacher’s hand.
As Martin Luther wrote, “Too many Christians envy the sinners their pleasures and the saint their joy, because they don’t have either one.” Are we afraid that God will turn us into a religious nut and our friends will laugh at us? Can Rev. Tozer be right in that we’d have to give up some guilty pleasure? If C. S. Lewis is correct, we’ll give up exactly nothing, when we look back on our life. What he meant was that we’d give up nothing that really mattered.
Or is it none of those things? Maybe we don’t take the plunge and let God do with us what God wants, because we don’t trust God.
Think about it. If they laugh, God will show us a way of using that laughter as a witness. If we miss out on a particular pleasure, God will open the door to greater pleasure. Even in suffering, we can find great pleasure in knowing that God’s will is being done. After all, Jesus is our brother. Should we not applaud our brother’s good fortune? And if we are jealous of the saint’s Joy, it is only because of our lack of faith. The saint did nothing special. The saint simply let go of the controls, and let God do what He had to do.
Oh, to have the faith of Mary – (Luke 1:38) “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
What is the line from The Cloud of Unknowing?
‘He wills thou do but look on Him and let Him alone.’
That’s it! That’s what we are missing. Before we can let God alone to do His will in our lives, we have to stop doing our own thing long enough to really LOOK ON JESUS. Picture Jesus healing the sick. Picture Jesus teaching. Picture Jesus calming the sea. Picture Jesus as He suffers for your sins. And picture Jesus, risen from the grave in victory.
I see those images and I get weak in the knees.
Now, let Him alone.
Let Him do His thing in your life.
After all, He laid down His life for you.