Jesus’ good news about the kingdom can be an effective guide for our lives only if we share his view of the world in which we live. To his eyes this is a God-bathed and God-permeated world.
—Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, p. 61
If our awareness of God is to infuse our every interaction, we must expand our concepts about God, embracing more dimensions of God. To see God in another person is to see God as that person. To see God in my daughter is to see God as my daughter. This may sound weird or blasphemous, but I’m not proposing that such assertions be added to your official statement of belief or doctrine. I’m proposing that you embrace the “freedom for which Christ has set you free” (Galatians 5:1) and play around with your language and thoughts about God in order to enrich your relationship. We tend to focus on one or two dimensions of our relationship, but shouldn’t God—the One who gave rise to all that is—be the most multi-dimensional of anything we ever experience? If we want to see God everywhere we look, it will help to start affirming that God is everywhere we look!
All of our relationships are ultimately different aspects of our relationship to God. Marriage, the most intimate of human relationships, is a wonderful model for intimacy with God. That’s true whether you’re male or female and whether or not you’re actually married. Anyone can become consciously married to God, embracing the reciprocal masculine and feminine dimensions of both God and you. This is a message of great hope, because it suggests the possibility of a relationship more fulfilling and gratifying than the best human marriage you could imagine. When we look to another human being to fulfill our deepest desires, we inevitably become disappointed. But when we are intimately connected to the ultimate Source and Fulfillment of those desires, all our human relationships flourish. That’s because they start from a place of abundant love, rather than need or want. This “inner marriage” becomes the hidden channel for love to flow to us and from us and through us. Our “cup runneth over.” Our love is infinite, as true love always is, for love never fails.
How can we do this? How can our relationship with God become so restored that we richly experience the multiple dimensions of our existence as being intimately related to our Source? How can we facilitate such transformation? It must start with believing that such transformation is possible. If you allow this seed of faith to grow, it will produce wonderful fruit. It will be the “kingdom of heaven” emerging in you, which Jesus likened to “yeast that a woman took and mixed into three measures of flour until it worked all through the dough.” (Luke 13:21) Faith and the kingdom of heaven are indeed related; Jesus compared both to a mustard seed. (Matthew 13:31-32; 17:20) “Though it is the smallest of all seeds,” it contains within itself the blueprint for “the largest of garden plants.” This transformation happens from the inside out, as with the butterfly from the caterpillar and the oak from the acorn:
Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
—Luke 17:20-21, NKJV
That the kingdom of God is within us perfectly explains how our seeking after fulfillment through things and people outside ourselves always ultimately fails. Paradoxically, when we instead prioritize this inner potential, all our outer needs are met. “Seek first the kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) So we must believe not only that such transformation is possible, but that it happens from within—that God lives within us, awaiting our discovery.
Once you have this realization, you understand that the seeds of your own fulfillment lie inside yourself and not in another human being. You know that God is the fullest consummation of what enamors you so profoundly. You may have seen glimpses of this light and this beauty in another person. These are glimpses of the radiant glory of Christ, and they may have awakened a deep desire within you—deeper than you knew you possessed. But until you realize that, with the desire, come the keys to its own fulfillment, you will always be searching outside yourself. We have a tendency to do one of two things:
- lock ourselves in a perpetual state of wanting, fantasizing about the greener grass on the other side of the fence, or
- dismiss, condemn, or suppress our desires as evil and not to be trusted.
What a sad state of affairs! Either way, you never get what you really want. But thanks be to God, that is not His nature. “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11) Until you truly believe that “every good and perfect gift comes from above” (James 1:17), trusting indeed that God is for you and not against you (Romans 8:31), you’ll never believe it’s really possible to get what you want. You’ll think you will have to make a compromise—either a moral compromise or a compromise to your desire. I’m here to tell you: no compromise is necessary. God is big enough. You may not see the way, but God does. God doesn’t plant desires in your soul only to abandon them. “Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?” (James 4:5)
When you are truly, madly in love with God and experiencing deep emotional fulfillment, the relationship presents itself as a radical form of self-love. People look to you and wonder, “Where does this love come from?” It appears on the outside that you are happy for no reason and that you are giving more than you are receiving, but the truth is that nobody can do that. Love flows through you only when you first receive it for yourself. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
To be married to God is to find every dimension of your being fulfilled more and more deeply every day. To be married to God means that all my needs are already met for all time.
Who is God that I can marry Her? To pursue, press in, and penetrate, to pierce the veil and see Her holy, naked Beauty, merging with Her in joyful ecstasy?
Let my beloved come into his garden
and taste its choice fruits.
(Song of Solomon 4:16)
Who is God that I can be married to Him? Giving myself over completely to Him, looking to Him for my every need, devoted to Him and saving myself for Him alone?
Let him lead me to the banquet hall,
and let his banner over me be love.
(Song of Solomon 2:4)