To many Christians, the Christian life consists of being saved from suffering the consequences of going to Hell and enjoying the privileges of going to Heaven. However, I believe that Christianity is much, much more. A summary of what the Bible teaches on the topic is the subject of the following homily I will bring at the 50th wedding anniversary of two long-time friends next weekend.
It is a real thrill for me to be here today to help commemorate Bill and Jane’s 50th anniversary. Little did I know 50 years ago when I participated in Bill and Jane’s first wedding that I would be participating in a renewal 50 years later. What an honor! I view today as a statement in flashing neon lights of the indestructible, irresistible, certainty of the Eternal Purpose of God (Ephesians 3:11), and how we, as His people, are participating with Him in accomplishing that great plan here on the earth.
In Genesis 1:26 – 28 God lays out very clearly in the creation story His three-fold intention for mankind. In these three verses lie, for all to see, our very reason for being here, why we are drawing breath, the mission in life that gives every person who is born ultimate fulfillment:
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; 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. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.”
Let’s analyze this foundational truth of our purpose for living taught in these three verses.
Purpose #1 – To bear the image of God. We were created to look like God looks and act like He acts. However, if this is God’s purpose for us it appears to be a huge problem for Him. Because of the Fall, the image of God in us as His creatures has been blurred and is hardly even recognizable. So, in order for God’s plan to be fulfilled, it was necessary for Jesus to become a man and come to earth to restore us to this original Purpose #1 of “looking like God.” That was gloriously accomplished at the cross, and the plan began, experientially, for Jane as a high school senior, and for Bill in the Sigma Nu house at the University of Washington in the Spring of 1964.
Purpose #2 – To Have Dominion or Rule over the earth. These verses tell us we were created, specifically, for the express purpose of, ruling over the earth. We are to do this, not with our own independent authority as man, but as God’s vice-regents, ruling with His authority, just as Jesus did while He was here. The Bible clearly tells us that Jesus, the Son of Man, is still ruling today, now not physically in Palestine, but from His Father’s right hand in heaven, now over the whole earth, as King of all other kings and Lord of all other lords. And He is doing so through us, by delegating His rule to us, His people, to exercise for Him, by His Holy Spirit, on the earth right now!
This is our Purpose #2, to learn how to rule His way, and then to actually do so, just as Jesus would if He were here, in your situation, on site with you. His rule was never with harshness or leniency, but always with firmness and compassion. This is our pattern as we rule in whatever we do, wherever we have been given earthly authority in our daily lives. Make no mistake, that authority comes directly from God to us, to be used to extend His dominion on the earth!
Bill and Jane are currently doing this with the Basque peoples in Spain; I am doing so with rebellious public high school students as a substitute teacher in Spokane; you are doing it every day in your jobs, families, churches, recreational activities, wherever you have been given leadership and responsibility in dealing with people. Notice, I am not exhorting you to try to do this, to set out to “rule for God.” I am saying that this righteous rule just happens when God’s people walk daily, as Paul did at the end of his life as the “chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:12), while knowing, simultaneously, the total forgiveness of God for all that sin. We, then, can know by faith, with no evidence necessary whatsoever, that we are extending the loving, benevolent rule of Jesus Christ wherever we go, naturally, unconsciously and spontaneously. Jesus tells us the gates of Hell will not prevail against our attack.
Purpose #3 – To reproduce and fill the earth. With what? With young, new, eager rulers—our children—who learn how to rule at our knees as their parents, not because we taught them, but as they simply watch us rule. Can you see that we will take dominion by reproduction, both physical and spiritual, as God commissioned us to do in Genesis 1? We don’t try to do so, but simply live life by faith, trusting that as God opens our eyes to His truth, He will accomplish His eternal purpose through us.
Our threefold, eternal purpose is the City with Foundations for which Abraham, our original human father in the faith, sought after, and in light of which he lived his life. Bill and Jane, who are like parents for many of us, have been a flesh and blood example for us to watch as they have been on that same journey to the same city.
Like Abraham, they will not arrive in this life, but on their journey they have left in their wake, spontaneously and unconsciously to them, #1, the image of God for all to see, #2, the rule of Jesus Christ wherever they have gone, and #3, hundreds if not thousands of young rulers that have been produced and are still being produced, who, also unconsciously, have watched Bill and Jane, and they have “gone and done likewise.” The rule of Jesus Christ, the eternal Purpose of God, is on the march, and will not be denied. Hallelujah! Jesus is Lord of Heaven and Earth!