Previously on The Journey into Growth…
Part 1: Works of Art
The problem of purpose…
Why are we here? To what end did God create us? More than that, why—after he saved us from our old life and made us new—why didn’t he just take us home to be with him? Why did he leave us here? What is his point?
I guess the point is that God has a purpose for us and part of that purpose is achieved on this earth, in this human life. It’s funny, but most of the time these difficult “Why are we here?” questions occur to us in times of frustration or suffering, or just confusion. I’m in one of those myself as I type these words.
As I’ve gotten older and moved in and out of these seasons of questioning, I’ve begun to see a pattern. And when I’m in a difficult place where nothing surrounding me seems to make sense, it’s a pattern I increasingly cling to. It’s a pattern of thinking based on one thing only: the character of the one who made me and who is shaping me for a destiny I’m not always aware of.
First of all, it’s important to understand that . . .
God is Intentional!
Romans 8:28 addresses the issue of circumstances in the life of the believer:
And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
In other words, God in his sovereignty actively arranges every life circumstance for the benefit of his children. None of what happens to us in this life happens without God’s permission (look at Job 1:9-12 to see how even Satan cannot hurt a person without God giving him permission and removing his hand of protection). And everything serves God’s greater purpose in our lives. None of it is wasted.
Discovering the key
But the key verse is the next one, where we see long-term intentionality in the thinking of Sovereign God, and in the process begin to understand exactly how he intends even negative circumstances to be for our good:
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn of many brothers.
God’s vision for the believer
God intends every believer to become like Jesus! And somehow he uses circumstances to achieve that objective. But how?
1 John 3:1-3 shows us the beginning and end, and something of the middle of this process:
See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God, and such we are . . . Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be [what we are going to be like when we grow up!]. We know that when He [Jesus] appears, we shall be like Him, and everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself just as He is pure.
Notice the last promise: And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself just as He is pure. I believe there is an explosive truth hinted at here (but revealed more clearly in other scripture, which we’ll cover in our next installment):
Jesus is not only the model for the end result of our growth (being like Jesus), but he also models the process itself!
Think about it…
As you think back to the most challenging times in your life, what do you think the point was? What was God doing?