Over the the past weeks we have discussed the four pillars of truth that support the Christian faith. Those pillars form the answers from the Bible to four, comprehensive questions which provide the basis of human existence: 1.) “What is God like?” 2.) “What am I like?” 3.) “How does God relate to me?” 4.) “Why am I here?”
As we have worked our way through what I believe are biblical answers to these simple questions (which I have collectively called, “Theology for Dummies”), we have discovered an inconvenient fact: each of the answers is an absolute truth that is identical for each of us, with no shades of gray that vary with the individual. We cannot credibly say, “You have your truth and I have mine, and God is cool with that.”
The fact that God is absolutely sovereign and says “My plans will never fail, I will do everything I intend to do. I have spoken, and it will be done” (Isaiah 46:10, 11) applies to every detail in the lives of all of us. I find myself being uneasy with black-and-white statements like that. I am much more comfortable with shades of gray, and pillars 1-3 have no such wiggle room.
However, pillar #4 is totally different from the first three. The answer to its question is not only not the same for us all, but it is unique for each of us. We each have a purpose in life that is different from every other person on the earth, and it perfectly fits every particular person.
Wouldn’t it be a joy to get up every morning knowing that you are personally precious to God, and He has a joyful, satisfying life for you that is not affected by your circumstances? He has individually ordered your steps for that day, and each step will contribute to the great purpose for which you were created. You can know that for sure, if you want to, because that statement is absolutely true!
Each seeming problem, difficulty, tragedy, success, victory and accomplishment you will experience that day are all designer circumstances, ordered specifically by God, to cause you to discover the answer to question #4, “Why am I here?” You are here to experientially join with our Father in the family business, “God and Sons, Inc.” Nothing else will bring ultimate satisfaction but doing this—what you were created to do!
That need not be surprising; it is what the Bible clearly teaches, as I have pointed out many times. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion . . . over all the earth . . .’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it’” (Genesis 1:26-28).
To reflect His image (to look and act like He does); to rule over the earth for Him; to reproduce new rulers for the next generation, both physically and spiritually. This is our three-fold purpose: to reflect, to rule, and to reproduce, in the context where we have been uniquely placed. This is why we were born. This is why we draw breath.
God is slowly but surely bringing us all from a nebulous, fuzzy idea of somehow, and in some way we don’t understand, Jesus is currently ruling from God’s right hand in heaven, and we are involved in that rule with Him. In the early chapters of Acts, the apostles talked of little else; Paul teaches this truth all through his letters, but most of us have not yet learned what that means to us, today.
The purpose of God’s family business, God and Sons, Inc., is that His rule, i.e., the willing, eager adherence to the law of God, be extended over the whole earth, to every nation, tribe and tongue (Genesis 1:26-28). This means that every knee bows and every tongue confesses Jesus is Lord of all (Philippians 2:10, 11). This means that His kingdom over which He rules “comes” in our present experience, and His will is done in all the earth, just as it is done in heaven, as we are exhorted to pray in the Lord’s prayer. (Matthew 6:10).
Paul prophetically summarizes the certain, historical end result toward which this plan is moving in 1 Corinthians 15: “Christ will overcome all spiritual rulers, authorities, and powers, and will hand over the Kingdom to God the Father. For Christ must rule until God defeats all enemies and puts them under his feet. But when all things have been placed under Christ’s rule, then he himself, the Son, will place himself under God, who placed all things under him; and God will rule completely over all” (1 Corinthians 15: 24, 25, 28 GNB).
These verses apply to Christ’s current rule from God’s right hand in heaven, through His people on the earth. It is happening now as we mature in our understanding of law and gospel, experience our Father’s love more and more, and then gradually grow into being actively involved in the family business of spreading that rule.
Our involvement with our Father in the business is why its goal is taking so long to accomplish. If God were doing it alone, it is a one day job, in the “twinkling of an eye,” but where is the joy for HIm? It takes a lifetime for him to train each of us to join Daddy in the business.
When my two boys were about five and six, they wanted to help me wash the car, so I let them. I could have done it by myself in half the time, but the joy for me was watching them rearrange the dirt, get themselves soaked from head to toe, and be so proud that they were “helping Daddy wash the car.”
Historically, this concept has been tragically misunderstood by the church. There has been a vague understanding of “working together with God” to save souls by witnessing, church-building and being a missionary, but that is understood to primarily be the job of the religious professionals—those who are in the “full-time ministry.” But Paul himself was not a religious professional (there was no such thing in the New Testament). Paul made his living making tents.
Any dissimilarity between Paul and his new converts was no more a permanent condition than sweeping up and emptying the trash is the permanent condition of the son who goes to work in his father’s business—as in last week’s present-day example. The goal is that all become fellow laborers with God. We are all in various stages of doing so, from going to work with our Father and seeing the business for the first time, to shouldering genuine responsibilities in it. He is bringing us all along and is happy with us where we are in the process, right now.
As you would expect, God and Sons, Inc., is extremely well-organized. The Bible lays out for us in great detail how that is true. This is not some nebulous idea of “serving God,” or being “completely committed.” What in the world does that even mean? Generally, it means trying to stop sinning and start doing righteous deeds, i.e., trying hard ourselves to “reflect God’s image.” But nothing could be more impossible; these are counterproductive activities! Next week we will see how God has organized His business to achieve its purpose and how we fit in to that business plan right where we are, right now.