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Whatever It Takes?
By David A. DePra
How dedicated are you to the will of God? Not just "out here," mind you? But in your own life? Most people would say that they WANT the will of God. Some of us say that because we know that it is what God wants to hear. Others of us mean it. But here’s the real question: Are you willing to allow God to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to accomplish His will for your life?
Included in allowing God to do "whatever it takes" to accomplish His will in your life, would be the commitment for YOU to do whatever it takes. After all, you can’t say you want the will of God, and then refuse to do it. So the two go hand in hand.
Are you willing to surrender to God that unconditionally? Well, the fact is, that is exactly the surrender God wants. It is really the only kind there IS. And the only kind He will accept. God wants us to trust Him to do "whatever it takes" to bring His will and glory to pass in our lives. If only we realized that if God ever got His way with us, that WE would be the biggest benefactors.
John 6 carries a wonderful teaching about the willingness to do "whatever it takes" to find Jesus Christ – which is certainly the same thing as unconditionally seeking the will of God. It is an event which followed the account of Jesus’ miracle of feeding the multitude with the five loaves and two fish.
Right after that miracle, if you read the account in John 6, the crowds wanted to make Jesus their king:
Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone. (John 6:14-15)
These people – those who had eaten of the miracle loaves – were seeking to use Jesus for their own purposes. Not wicked purposes, mind you, but good ones. A king such as Jesus could feed the hungry, do miracles, and kick out the Romans. And after all, isn’t that what the Messiah is supposed to do?
Herein we see the point of departure: People failing to recognize – and in some cases – refusing to recognize, who Jesus Christ is. To these folks, He as a prophet, a potential king, perhaps even Messiah. But Savior or their Lord? We see no thought of this in their minds. They wanted to "take Him by force." Professing Christians have been doing it ever since.
Jesus departed into a mountain ALONE. Even the disciples did not know where He went. Later that night, He came to them, walking on the sea. By morning, Jesus and His disciples were on the other side of the Sea of Galilee.
When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus. And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when did you come here? (John 5:25)
These people had put forth a great effort to find Jesus. They had searched and sought and finally found Him. But Jesus knew that the reasons for their effort were tainted with human plans and purpose. He said:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, You seek me, not because you saw the miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labor not for the meat which perishes, but for that meat which endures unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. (John 6:27)
Jesus knew that the effort put forth by these folks was merely an extension of their attempt to make him their king. To them, Jesus was a prophet and a miracle worker. Maybe the Messiah. He could give them what they wanted. And presently, that was bread and miracles. But what Jesus says to them is this: "You would do well to labor as hard for that which is eternal." He adds, "That is the Bread I really have to give you."
Jesus saw their hard labor to find Him for the temporal bread. They did whatever it took to find Him. So He uses the occasion to teach them. He tells them to "labor" or "work" just as hard for the bread which is eternal. He was telling them that they should, in effect, do "whatever it takes" to seek and find that Eternal Bread.
Now note: Jesus is not saying we have to do works to receive eternal life. Hopefully, that is clear. There is a "play on words" going on here, using the fact that these people "labored" or "worked" -- going all out to find Jesus. Jesus is saying, "That kind of effort – that kind of SEEKING attitude – is wonderful. Transfer it over to seeking the eternal."
The people understood Him completely. They ask, "What shall we do that we might work the works of God?" (John 6:28) In other words, they were asking, "Jesus, you are saying that we need to work just as hard for the eternal bread, as we did for the temporal bread. We are willing to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to receive this eternal bread from God. But what DOES it take? What works are the "works of God" – the works that will get us this eternal bread?"
It is so natural and so human to think that we have to do something for God, to get something from Him. And Jesus did seem to be "setting them up" by telling them that they needed to "labor" for the bread which is eternal. But Jesus had in mind another kind of "labor" or "work." He says:
This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent. (John 6:29)
If you ever wanted to know what it is that you need to do to be doing the works of God, you now have your answer: Believe. Strive to believe. Labor to believe. Do whatever it takes to seek Jesus Christ, stand in faith, and continually live in Jesus Christ. Let nothing keep you away.
The Work of Faith
There are elements of this story which certainly apply to salvation. But if we limit it to that one event we will lessen the value of what Jesus is teaching. Jesus is the Bread of Life and we must "eat of Him" to be saved. But salvation is a relationship into which we enter with Christ forever – of faith and dependency upon Him. In other words, figuratively speaking, we never stop eating of the Eternal Bread. He is our life – our "daily bread."
Yet just as Jesus fed the crowds and then disappeared in the story, and they had to come and seek Him out for more bread, so it is with US. Jesus will often seem to disappear. Why? Not because He is playing games with us, or because He is making Himself inaccessible. Rather, it is because He wants to build our faith. Our faith grows as we seek Him and overcome the obstacles which we encounter during the seeking.
The fact is, Jesus disappears for the very purpose of drawing us into the seeking attitude.As we seek Him, and overcome obstacles, we are actually molded into the condition necessary for receiving what we find. Put it another way: Laboring to find Jesus makes us really hungry. Really needy. It is hard work. But that’s the goal, because then we will eat whatever He gives.
There are not many of us who live perfect lives. What we DO is always quite imperfect, as much as we might wish it were otherwise. But there is one thing we can always do: Seek. We can seek the Truth on everything.
Now, have you ever noticed what it is that prompts the "seeking" attitude? A question. Sure. You won’t seek an answer unless you have a question. It is when you begin to ask questions about God, and about how He works, or about His will, that you begin to seek.
The Holy Spirit initiates questions in our hearts. We think it is us, but it is often the Holy Spirit. It is His way of leading us into the Truth.
Questions come in many forms. Usually in the form of problems. For instance, sooner or later we are going to encounter a sin we can’t overcome. Perhaps a relationship which is not right. Maybe a financial crisis. Or a health crisis. The question will always be: What is God’s will in this? What portion of my Daily Bread – Jesus Christ – is sufficient for this?
Can you see that there is an accountability built into this? If you have already surrendered to Christ, and given your life to Him, you no longer belong to yourself. Once you encounter a question – in whatever form – you are accountable for allowing Christ to be the answer. You are accountable for seeking Him.
Some of us think we can do all of that by study. Well, you can’t – although study is great. We do need to know what the Bible says about these things. But we have to LIVE. We have to experience. We have to walk. In effect, we cannot simply study about seeking Jesus. We have to seek Him, and find Him.
It is always possible, of course, to ignore the questions. Especially when we suspect the answer might not be one we will like. But the moment the question is asked, we are accountable for seeking. We already know too much to plead ignorance. We may not know the full answer. But we do know we have a question. And we know Who to seek for the answer to that question.
Just as the people in the gospel story sought out Jesus for the temporal bread, so Jesus tells us we ought to do whatever it takes to seek Him out as the Living Bread. And if you will notice, Jesus doesn’t merely say He will GIVE us the Eternal Bread. He does. But He goes even further. He says, "I AM the Bread of Life." (John 6:35) In effect, Jesus wants to give us HIMSELF.
Seeking Him Early
Faith always motivates us to SEEK God. Why? Because we know that we will find God – we know God will see to it that we do find Him. Faith also motivates us because we know that there is no one else for us but God. On Him alone do we rely. Therefore, Him alone to we seek.
When you have problems, is God the first place you go? Do you immediately begin seeking Him – seeking His will? The Bible admonishes us to seek God first – to seek God "early."
O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsts for thee, my flesh longs for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is. (Psalm 63:1)
I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek My face: in their affliction they will seek Me early. (Hosea 5:15)
Faith seeks God immediately in any situation. In fact, if I am living with God, such a thing should come natural. I should be all that far away to begin with.
As mentioned, however, there are times when God seems to hide Himself – much like Jesus did in the gospel. And we cannot find Him – in the sense that we don’t understand His will, or where He is in a situation. It is then that we SEEK. If you have walked with Christ for long, you will find out that turning and seeking Christ immediately doesn’t always mean that you will find Him immediately. Instead, you may find out that seeking Christ is hard work, just as did the people in the gospel account.
Why is it like this? Because the PROCESS of seeking is what God is after, just as much as the solution we are seeking. The PROCESS of seeking builds our faith, and conforms and adjusts us FOR the answer. In short, if we are seeking Christ, the process conforms us TO Christ. Then we are ready to find Him, because we can have a greater communion with Him.
Those people in the gospel undoubtedly became hungry seeking Jesus. By the time they found Him, they were probably willing to eat whatever He offered them. Take this spiritually. God knows exactly what we need of Himself – the Living Bread. It is the journey, the process of seeking, that gets us to the place where we are yielded and surrendered enough to be willing to receive exactly what He is willing to give.
So the Bible reveals that we ought to seek God "early" or immediately. First. But we are never promised that we will find Him immediately. What we are promised is that if we will endure and believe, and continue the journey, that by the time we do find God, we will be able to "eat" what He has to give us – a greater revelation of His Son.
Again – are we willing to say to God, "whatever it takes, Lord?" Are we willing to allow God to do whatever it takes to set us free? If we are, then we will seek God early, and endure to the end. In the meantime, God will conform us to His image.
ProblemsPractically speaking, we can seek out Jesus Christ in any problem in life. We may have to "labor" and "work" to live out our faith, but this is our calling. For example, how about a troubled marriage? Are we willing to seek Jesus in THAT situation? – tell Him to do anything necessary in US that will advance His will? Or would we rather give up and take the easy way out?
Jesus would say to us, "Labor for the Bread which endures unto eternal life." In other words, you can find Jesus in your problem. Every time, all the time. This does not necessarily mean there won’t be obstacles. It doesn’t mean your spouse is going to yield to God. But you can. And if you will yield, and eat of the Bread of Life, then Jesus has YOU.
How about a financial crisis? Regardless of how you got yourself into it, or even if it isn’t your fault, do you believe Jesus Christ is the solution? Are you willing to tell Him, "Lord, whatever it takes, remove any obstacles in ME which are keeping me out of your will?" THAT is faith. It is surrender. That is what it means to "labor for the bread which endures unto eternal life."
Perhaps your problem is a faith problem. Maybe you can’t seem to believe. Maybe you want to believe, but can’t seem to believe. Yet, you can still seek. You can say, "God, whatever it takes, I am willing to be made willing. I am willing to believe." Actually, the moment you turn to God in that way, you ARE believing. See, you had more faith that you thought!
If you are seeing the Truth about this, you will understand that if you are willing to do "whatever it takes" to find Christ – to enter into and live out His will – then at some point you are going to have to practice some practical obedience. There will be some practical living to do. And it must be according to the Word of God.
This brings us to another important point. If I am seeking Christ, there are three things which I need to do. First, prayer. I cannot seek the will of God, or seek Christ, without prayer. In fact, prayer IS the will of God. It is communion with Christ. I must persevere in prayer. That is part of my seeking; part of my journey. A big part of the process. Second, I must be in the Word of God. This will help renew my mind according to the Truth, and give me practical guidelines.
A third help is fellowship. It is always good to be around Christians who are centered in prayer and the Word of God. Who know Jesus Christ. You may not even have occasion or necessity to share your problems with them. But there is spiritual health and strength in fellow believers – if they are walking in the Truth. ( An important "if!")
If you want the Truth, you need to start seeking it. If you want the Light, you have to start surrounding yourself with Light. You cannot find the Truth if you are living in the "gray area" of compromise, or are living in darkness. Truth isn’t in those places.
Whatever It Takes
The Bible speaks of BOTH God seeking us, and us seeking God. It talks about BOTH the Holy Spirit leading us into all Truth, and us seeking the Truth. The way in which these are reconciled is to understand that the Holy Spirit puts a question in our heart – He must take the initiative. Then, because of the question, we have the choice to seek God for the answer, or ignore the question.
Jesus said, "No one comes to Me except the Father who sent Me draw him." (Jn. 6:44) When we turn and SEEK God, it is because He is drawing us. We are responding to a question – whether we know it or not. It may be a rather inarticulate question – perhaps just a desire for God; a desire for Truth; help in time of need. But we are trying to find the Eternal Bread which will satisfy our hunger.
Notice again: Once the question has been asked, we are accountable. We have the power to refuse. But God will never stop asking. So this is not a one time thing. It is a lifetime thing. It takes hard work to refuse God – even harder work than it is to seek Him!
God will do whatever it takes to get our attention. He will do whatever it takes in our lives so that we will begin seeking Him for answers. The question is: Will we do whatever it takes to find those answers?
If we really knew God, we would see that He is always out for our good. He never seeks our harm. But He does want us to get our focus off of the temporal onto the eternal. He wants us to stop seeking temporal bread, and to begin seeking the Bread of Life Himself. And if we do, even the temporal bread will be supplied. *
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