Seek God

I am an admirer of art. Back in junior high (before they called it “middle school”), I took an art class and entered some pieces I’d drawn in a local contest. Sadly, I did not pursue the hobby and now am limited to botched versions of my dogs. But it formed in me a love for the talent of the artist and what they create.

I like both impressionistic works and those amazingly detailed ones which look like photographs. I like oil paintings, pen-and-ink drawings, watercolors, and many other mediums of art. But art in any form is the representation of what the artist sees. A group of artists can depict the same scene, and each one will have a variation of it.

Much of art is abstract. Something abstract is not concrete, or not specific and detailed. It is something that has been summarized and reduced to a symbol or an idea. This works with art. It does not work with our image of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Minister Rick Renner in his book “Why We Need The Gifts Of The Holy Spirit” used a word that has affixed itself in my thinking. He referred to the MANIFESTATION of grace and the MANIFESTATIONS of Holy Spirit. A MANIFESTATION is an outward demonstration or a public demonstration. It is EVIDENCE of a person or animal that has caused the results YOU CAN SEE.

In Scripture, there are numerous MANIFESTATONS of Holy Spirit LIVING within us. These are CLEAR EVIDENCE that He is at work. In 1 Corinthians 12, we find the GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT to the church. These are His MANIFESTATIONS among us.

You can see I own two dogs by the evidence of them around my house. They have manifested themselves in dog beds, dog hair, and dog smell. You can know three people live in my house by the three sizes of shoes at the back door, the three cars in the driveway, and if you explored further, closets full of three sizes and styles of clothing.

The MANIFESTATIONS of Holy Spirit can be seen in the same way. We know He is among us BECAUSE there are gifts operating in the church. Yet, over time, these gifts have become more of a catch phrase, something we read that is engrained in church lingo more than any definite EVIDENCE of His Presence.

We can say the same about the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT listed in Galatians 5:22-23. We read the list of words, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance,” we may even define the individual words to get their full impact, but to most of the church, they are general ideas of ways to behave. They are a list of rules, if you will, that we are told to follow.

In that, we miss the point entirely.

Let’s also mix in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Because, here again, we have reduced a powerful truth about the MANIFESTATION of Holy Spirit to something ABSTRACT.

All of it, the gifts of the Spirit to the church, the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians, the words of 2 Timothy, have become ABSTRACT thoughts and not MANIFESTATIONS OF A PERSON. Just as He is not a vapor, floating around the earth, just as He has a form and a shape (man was created in His image), these are all WHO HE IS. They are HOW HE ACTS. They are HOW HE RESPONDS to everything.

I do not eat watermelon, and everyone that knows me knows I would never, ever, times 1,000, eat watermelon. In this same way, we know Holy Spirit HATES FEAR. He is never FEARFUL and seeks to eradicate fear within us. His personality is not fear. It is love. Love is how He responds to us. God is love, and Holy Spirit is God. Holy Spirit is power. He “came upon” Mary and caused her to conceive. He raised Jesus from the dead BECAUSE HE LOVED HIM. He is not confused, ever, but of SOUND MIND, and He desires us to BE LIKE HIM.

He is LOVING. He is JOYFUL. He is PEACEFUL. He is PATIENT (longsuffering). He is GENTLE and GOOD and FAITH-FULL and MEEK and SELF-CONTROLLED.

Think about that. Holy Spirit is self-controlled. He has the greatest power in the universe, yet He’s not tossing it around willy-nilly. He is so patient with us, so longsuffering, just as the Father is, just as the Son is. These are not only things we must act like. They are descriptions of Him, and when we are FULL OF HIM, then these FRUIT will MANIFEST within us. (Eph 1:23; Eph 3:19; Eph 4:13)

We are not seeking a behavior. We are seeking a person, and that revelation changes everything.

In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, we are given a full description of God’s love. We’ve read it as how we need to behave. But it is a description of HOW GOD IS. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are patient, gentle, and kind. These are never envious or boastful or proud. They are not rude, quick-tempered, or selfish. They do not keep a track record of what we’ve done wrong (boy, does that stand religious theology on its head). They rejoice in truth, not evil. (Jn 16:13)

Our God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things. They never fail.

We are told to seek the kingdom and its righteousness, but we are not seeking ABSTRACT ideas. (Mt 6:33) We are seeking GOD. We are seeking WHO HE IS. Holy Spirit was sent as our COMFORTER. (Jn 15:26) When you need comforting, He’s who you turn to. God, as Father, as Savior, as Holy Spirit, desires to be known for Himself. We feel the same way. No one wants to be a nameless face.

When we seek HIM, when we IMITATE HIM, our lives will change forever. (1Cor 11:1) He becomes accessible and REAL. He becomes PERSONAL, and contrary to what religion says, He longs for this. He is a PERSONAL GOD.

He’s interested in every part of your life. He’s interested in every part of His church. His gifts to the church, the MANIFESTATIONS OF HIM as apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher, the MANIFESTATIONS as gifts of healings, words of knowledge, prophecy, and words of wisdom, are things HE WANTS TO SHARE. We’ve thought we must wait, and maybe He’ll decide to give us an ounce of it.

No! He can’t wait to MANIFEST WHO HE IS, but He MANIFESTS to those who are SEEKING HIM and not the experience.

I could go on. He is ABBA FATHER, as a loving earthly father adores His children. (He “invented” fatherhood. And motherhood, for that matter.) (Rm 8:14; Gal 4:6) He is our FRIEND. Just as I go to my friends, eager to hear how their trip went, how their parents are doing, how their children fare, He can’t wait for us to sit and talk. (Jn 15:14-15)

He is our LOVER. This seems wrong in our human mindset, but the Scripture says, “Thy Maker is thine husband.” (Is 54:5) Then in Ephesians, the apostle Paul describes Christ’s love for the church as the example of a husband’s love for his bride. (Eph 5:25-26) This shouldn’t seem foreign (or dirty). God invented marriage. (Ge 2:24) He wrote the Song of Solomon.

Our problem is contact with secular society has altered our thinking toward the negative. We must renew our minds to think like He does, to see Him as He is and not religion’s abstract painting. Jesus isn’t an oil painting of a man in a golden robe. He’s the Savior, who died and rose again, at the will of the Father, who loved us so much, that through the power of Holy Spirit, who is as much God, as much love as they are, He saved the entire world. Holy Spirit wasn’t simply doing their bidding. Jesus didn’t have to be convinced to come to earth. They were all in on the plan.

The Father loved. The Son loved. The Spirit loved. Now, we love because we are like them. That is the truth of the gospel. That is why we are changed from what we were, children of hate, into children of LIFE.

We are an incredible MANIFESTATION of an incredible, amazing God.

Image by Free Photos from Pixabay

Suzanne D. Williams, Author