What is God’s umbrella purpose over the body of Christ?
The ultimate purpose of God is to glorify Christ. For us, that means conformity. Conforming us to the image of Christ is God’s plan for us as a body both individually and corporately.
One problem we face in regards to conformity is that our mindsets often get skewed by the world in the duality of good and bad. For example, we say, “I love my life” or “I hate my life” depending on our circumstances. We place the good news frame around the big promotion, the new car or happy circumstance and the bad news frame around the lost job, the wrecked car or bad circumstance.
For the believer there are at least two problems with this:
1) Our lives have been bought in full (1 Cor. 7:23) and we have no ownership over them, only stewardship.
2) Life is not found in good or bad circumstances (Col. 3:3), but in Christ alone.
When we adopt the world’s definition of good and bad, our view gets skewed steering off course our thoughts, perspective and actions. For example, when an undesirable circumstance crashes in to our lives, we want to question God. But basing our faith on our circumstances is contrary to His agenda. He calls us to more than that.
Instead of assuming the world’s agenda, we must realign our definition of good and bad with God’s economy. A basic redefinition of good and bad serves believers well in maintaining proper perspective of circumstances. In His economy, circumstances are not defined in context of good versus bad, but in context of growth versus stagnancy (John 15:5, 8).
What we do with our circumstances determines our growth opportunity. We have two choices. We can assume the world’s perspective: fighting the circumstance, fighting to change others and fighting against ourselves. Alternatively, we can assume God’s perspective: receiving the circumstance as a lesson in growth, allowing Him to teach us and then learning and growing accordingly.
Maybe we have yet to receive an answer to an urgent prayer or find ourselves again in the very same frustrating situation we’ve tried to remedy but to no avail. The issue in these circumstances can be more than just fixing things to make our circumstances more pleasant. For instance, simply walking through a circumstance, especially one that is uncomfortable, can conform our souls at deeper levels by developing patience or granting us another glimpse of the realization that we are not in control.
The deeper heart issues in conformity rank much higher on God’s scale of importance than immediately answering our superficial prayers to fix our circumstances. In His economy, God is often answering our prayers by not answering them so quickly or apparently not answering them at all.
In assuming a higher perspective, we must remember that His teaching instruments include trials, troubles and sometimes even tragedy.
I remember my friend sharing with me the story of a believing family with a very willful husband. An opportunity for a new job down in Florida opened up suddenly for him. In spite of his recent spiritual growth spurt, this opportunity caught him off guard. Feeling overwhelmed with anticipation and without a second thought as to the needs of his family, he immediately quit his job. When he told her, his wife opposed the sudden change of plans and the children were disturbed and heartbroken.
Without his wife’s agreement or seeking direction or confirmation from God, he firmly proceeded to make the move with her and their three children, two of whom were teens. After the chaotic move, within the first few days of settling in there, their oldest daughter was suddenly killed in a car accident. Now normally we would view this circumstance as a bad thing, in spite of the fact that in the life of the believer there are no coincidences. Although we cannot fully understand God’s ways, one purpose among many which was fulfilled in bringing the teen home was brokenness of the willful husband.
Another situation I witnessed personally involved a woman who not only adored, but worshipped her only granddaughter, age two. This woman’s life history had been filled with tragedy after tragedy including family deaths, houses burning down and husbands disappearing with no warning. Most people in her work environment described her as cold-blooded and often gossiping, slandering and ruthlessly firing employees. The problem was that she simultaneously claimed that she “was led” by the spirit of God.
One day she told me that her granddaughter was her “whole life” and the “only reason” she got out of bed in the morning. Needless to say, those words felt to me like a stab in my chest since she also claimed to be led by God. I feared for what might happen next. Unfortunately, her granddaughter’s funeral I attended two weeks later. After two autopsies, the coroner could find no evidence of any reason for death. The child had died mysteriously during her afternoon nap.
God is speaking to us every moment. The only question is, Are we listening? And do we hear the whispers? Or only the shouts? The husband and the grandmother were two exceptionally stubborn and willful individuals requiring exceptional circumstances to reach their hearts. Not to say that tragedy doesn’t happen to those with softened and attentive hearts. It does.
Instead of taking the carnal and immature perspective asking ourselves, “Do I love my life? Is everything going my way? Am I happy?” we must seek God’s perspective and learn to ask, “Am I being transformed from within by the continual renewal of my mind by surrendering to God’s Spirit through and during my circumstances?” Maturity is learning to receive every circumstance as an opportunity for growth. To that standard God calls us.
Transformation through mind renewal and soul surrender in our relationships with God, others, and ourselves is evidence of conformity. If we stagnate we are resisting God in His purposes of conformation. Do we really want to resist when He has our absolute best interest in mind? We know deep down that His eternal purposes for us are far greater than our temporary pain. Wouldn’t life be easier spent by simply listening to Him before circumstances, at least for some, must become severe?
Might you be resisting God somewhere in your life?
Will your resistance benefit you or harm you?
What is it, do you think, that is holding you back?
What will it take to release your resistance so you can go free?
Consider how good that freedom would feel.
Now consider telling someone about your struggle and then taking your first step to freedom. (See your local church or Twelve Step Program; Living Waters or New Life Ministries on Resources page)
Yet, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our Potter, and we all are the work of Your hand.
I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.
Whoever finds his [ lower] life will lose it [the higher life], and whoever loses his [lower] life on My account will find it [the higher life].
When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honored and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine.
1 Corinthians 7:23
You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for by Christ]; then do not yield yourselves up to become [in your own estimation] slaves to men [but consider yourselves slaves to Christ].
For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God.
You stubborn and stiff-necked people, still heathen and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are always actively resisting the Holy Spirit. As your forefathers [were], so you [are and so you do]!
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
1 Peter 4:13
But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.