by Titika Schmidt
In the beginning was the hunger. And the hunger was with man. And it was a hunger for righteousness. And the hunger came to God and God answered the hungry and gave him a gift. God was not in the hunger; God is righteousness.
This is no attempt to re-write the Gospel of John. It is an observation and an experience from my own life. It is the Gospel of John as I have experienced it after having read it literally. John is actually saying in the Gospel:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. …There came a man … He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.1
There have been times, I was starving for the things that are in God until one day, I came to know the Word. Then I realized that in God’s eyes my life looked different. This gave me hope, which turned to faith, and the faith caused the hunger to grow. Soon, my desire, to live like God said that I could, grew so strong that it became first priority within me. In this way, the faith worked in me unconsciously and created something new. The Word became my life; it became flesh inside me. It did not only transform my inner being according to God’s intention but it also came to pass in my life.
This is what John really meant when he wrote: Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.2
This kind of hunger and the faith resulting from it revealed a new power to me. I could call things into existence that had not been visible before. I did not necessarily see this power at work everywhere among Christians. Few knew how to deal with it. Some fathers of the former generation preached about it and demonstrated this power. I did not have a term for it. So I called it ‘the creative wisdom’. When God created the universe He believed in His own Word and released this wisdom. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.3
God simply believed that life was in Him and that everything He said would come into existence. He spoke and it came to pass. He gave the Word and it became life. He made the earth by His power. He founded the world by His wisdom and stretched out the heavens by His understanding. His wisdom is contained in His Word. This Word became flesh and came to us. He was with us, He died, He came back to life and He lives in us, the children of God, through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we have full access to His wisdom.
The Lord invites us and expects us to make use of this wisdom. God expected this also from Job who bitterly complained about his misery and insisted on his righteousness. God asked Job, if he really had the righteousness he constantly talked about, why wasn’t he able to perform the acts of power that would liberate him from his present miserable state. If Job possessed the righteousness he claimed, he ought to be capable of releasing this wisdom to form a new, restored life.
The Lord answered Job and told him something incredible: Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. … while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!4
Job was present when God released the wisdom in order to create the world. This is a stunning truth: The sons of God were present! The Word confirms that we were chosen before the creation of the world and that we were created in Him. For, he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless…5 yet Job had forgotten everything. The righteousness he insisted that he had was a kind of righteousness that could not open the fountains of life for him. He could not advance to the very beginning of God, where the Word is. He could not find the source of life in order to draw wisdom from it and to heal his life. He was powerless.
Job reminds me of the present day church. It is full of good works and worship. It has wealth, gifts, children, heirs. However, it only knows God by hearsay. It hasn’t experienced Him in the fullness of His life. The present Christianity is not hungry enough for it. It is contended with gifts and wealth. It was the same with Job who had been perfect. Therefore, Job was afflicted and tested. He needed to become hungry again. Yet he was not supposed to hunger for gifts and deeds but to become desperately hungry for righteousness. He suffered from his trials until he began to realize how God is in the beginning. He came to a point where he admitted that he did not posses a righteousness of his own and that he only knew his Lord by hearsay but not as his life. His hunger brought him to a point at which he was willing to accept a wisdom, which had previously been unknown to him: the wisdom of Christ’s suffering.
He realized that righteousness does not mean to do everything right and that wisdom does not mean to know everything. He became aware that righteousness means to have God’s rightness in all things. In this he saw wisdom; not the wisdom with which God had made the present world but the wisdom that had caused a new creation to come into existence.
Let me explain what I mean in more detail. God created the world through his wisdom. However, after man’s sin He decided to subject this creation to decay and to establish a new one. He used a new kind of wisdom for the establishment of the new creation. The sacrifice of Christ and the chosen sons of God came into existence in HIM before the foundation of the world: … but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.6 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake…7 The sacrifice of Jesus as a lamb on the cross is the wisdom of God; a wisdom that appears like foolishness in this world. Yet this foolishness of God is a greater wisdom than that which the wise men of the world could compile. It brings forth new life where death had already reigned; because the message of a crossed king is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God: God’s power, God’s wisdom, God’s new beginning.
Job got far enough to realize this new beginning. He had been inwardly dead and decaying while he was still walking in his rotten flesh. But after this powerful encounter with God in the storm, he received the power of the cross. His life became a life of forgiveness. He offered sacrifices for his friends and healed them. This brought about change in his life. While he was still walking in the flesh, he experienced what the incomparably great power of God can achieve in us. After that, he lived a life of resurrection in complete restoration. He received power and wisdom to make everything new, for God had given him a living demonstration of his wisdom.
This creative wisdom is a power I rarely find in Christians today. The power to bring forth new life is restricted to the preaching of salvation. New life comes into existence, children of God are born, gifts are apportioned and later the stream of life runs dry and everything remains as it was. However, in some, the hunger for righteousness starts at this point. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.8 The hunger makes you desperate. All inner powers are mobilized to ensure the spiritual survival. The desire for God becomes tremendous. The search becomes the highest priority within a person. Then they cry out with such force that the hunger comes before God. ‘Blessed are those who hunger…’ He hears the hunger. Moreover, he responds to it with righteousness.
You, who are hungry, behold how the righteousness comes: For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.9 Death reigns through the sin of man. Its power is that man remains in sin. Christ died and the sin was wiped away. By the obedience of Jesus, grace came to us and we receive the gift of righteousness. This is the beginning of our reign in life through Jesus.
It should be. Do you see many people who reign in life with Jesus? How come it is still lacking among us? Why is the hunger greater than the extent to which we reign? It comes from a wrong understanding of righteousness. The righteousness of the cross is free; you cannot earn it. This might be enough to preach a new birth but, obviously, the children of God don’t make further use of it. They work, teach, labour, but they don’t reign in life. The wisdom runs dry. And the hunger grows. The soul hungers, the spirit hungers because the rightness of God is missing, which can restore everything that is broken and let something new come into existence in areas where nothing had existed before.
There can be only one explanation as to why today’s Christians remain powerless. They only believe in the cross for salvation. Then the development comes to a halt. Following Christ, they do not invest in the cross. They do not give up everything for Jesus’ sake. The cross does not play a practical role in the lives of the self-proclaimed mature Christians, who often differ from the newborn Christians only by being even more powerless. Nevertheless, they have a lot of teaching. They know much about God. They can fill many books and sermons. Yet the wisdom of the cross falls by the wayside.
The Word is IN the beginning. That means in the beginning of God. Jesus is the beginning of God. However, Jesus can only be understood as the Crucified One. When a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it will bear much fruit. Otherwise, it will remain a single seed. A grain of wheat that is afraid of death will not render fruit. In the same way, a Christian who doesn’t allow the cross into his life after being born again will not be able to bear fruit. Life stagnates and nothing new comes down from heaven. At this point the hunger begins.
‘Blessed are those who hunger …’ the hunger drives the spirit and the desire becomes predominant. Faith in the Word can begin at this point. The Word in the beginning will come into existence through the faith that works unconsciously. The same word will come to pass in the world, in the life of the hungry person who needs to be filled. This is the righteousness of God. This is His new creative wisdom. After the cross, there is life and life in abundance.
Those who hunger will be filled. Thank God, there are believers that are willing to walk the path of fruitfulness in order to see the fruit of life in the resurrection. I walked this path. I learned from this that the cross is a power. Walking on the path of self-denial, most surely, the hour arrives when reigning in life comes into effect. Streams of life are released and everything becomes healthy again. The ability to bring something new into existence is always the power in the Word. However, the wisdom to make this faith effective lies in the nature of the lamb that was slain: First, you die, and then you live. First, you suffer, and then you reign. Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. 10
What about those who have put this into practice in their lives? If you have come that far you will also need faith in the cross. For the cross has two sides. One side has ‘self-sacrifice’ written on it; the other ‘result of self-sacrifice’. This sacrifice yields complete restoration, but it needs to be taken hold of by faith in the cross. The creative wisdom is gained when righteousness finds its fulfilment not in the good works of humanity but in Jesus death.
If you have not yet taken hold of this, if you are still in that old place of bitter complaining in which there isn’t enough room for new works, then get up and change places. Leave that old place. Walk into that new dimension in which righteousness is a gift and begin to put the cross into practice as a sacrifice and as well as a victory. This life-style will never remain without result.
1 John 1:1-2; 6-8; 14
2 John 1: 3-4
3 Hebrews 11:3
4 Job 38: 4-7; 21
5 Ephesians 1:4
6 1 Peter 1:19-20
7 Ephesians 1:4
8 Matthew 5:6
9 Romans 5:17
10 2 Timothy 2:11-12