March 8, 2013
What’s God’s Purpose for Me?
Most Christians who have been in the faith any length of time have heard quoted Romans 8:28 concerning any number of happenings in their lives:
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to
them who are the called according to His purpose.
I one time almost got a book thrown at me by a woman whose mother was going through a horrific battle with cancer. The daughter was a strong Christian, but her trust in the daily faithfulness of God was being severely tested as she saw her mom increasingly suffer. By the way, the truth of Romans 8:28 still stood, even in that case, and the daughter later admitted to me that I was right in reminding her of this verse, but that she just was in no frame of mind at that time to receive it.
Have you been quoted this verse when you are going through some trial or testing? Have you wondered how something that is so uncomfortable to you can work together for good? The problem is that we often fail to go on to the next verse, Romans 8:29:
For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the
image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Verse 28 tells us that all things work together for good to those who are called according to God’s purpose. Verse 29 then spells out God’s overriding purpose for all of His children, — that He predestinated them to be conformed to the image of His Son. All things that touch our lives as Christians – God is using them to make us more and more like Jesus.
That this is the overriding purpose of the Father is shown by other scripture truths. II Corinthians 3:18 says,
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass [in a mirror] the glory of the
Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit
of the Lord.
How do we behold the glory of the Lord? II Corinthians 4:6 has the answer:
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our
hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus
God’s glory, or His fulness is embodied in the Lord Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:15 says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. The Lord Himself said in John 14:9 that if you have seen Him, you have seen the Father. We behold Jesus by looking at Him with our faith through the scriptures. It is a hazy reflection sometimes because it is faith, not clear sight. But the more we see Him, the more we get to know Him through the Word, the more we “…are changed into that same image….” Saint Paul says it is “…from glory to glory…” (and he could have added a few more glories!) in that it is a process – little by little by little we are changed into the image of Jesus Christ.
The culmination of the process is seen in I John 3:2:
Beloved, now are we the sons [children] of God, and it does not yet appear what
we shall be: but we know that, when He [Jesus] shall appear, we shall be like
Him; for we shall see Him as He is.
Then, it will not be by hazy faith. Then it will be by sight! We will see Him clearly when He comes back for His own, and we will be immediately transformed into completely sinless and eternal beings like as He is.
In the meantime, God is making us over to be like Jesus. Now, I suspect you are a lot like me. I have a long way to go to be like Jesus. I have stuff in my life that does not resemble my Lord, and God has to get rid of it. So He orders all things in my life to work together for good, the good of His purpose to make me more and more like His Son. And that can hurt!
It is a lot like what I experienced while working in an electrical contact manufacturing plant many years ago. We made large commercial contact components out of metal. The process involved included stamping them out by a drop-board forge and then finishing them to specs by further processes such as grinding off the rough edges. I would stand before the grinding wheel for hours smoothing off the roughness of these contacts. If those pieces of metal had voice, I would imagine them screaming out as I ground away, “Ow! That hurts! Stop! Don’t! That’s painful!” But if the rough edges were not ground away, the contacts would not fit the order specs, and they would be virtually useless for their intended purpose. I guess the contacts did have some worth in their rough state: they could always be sold for scrap metal!!!
It may hurt to have our un-Christ-like edges ground down so we can be made to conform to the specs God has for us – to look like Jesus. But if God does not orchestrate the process, and/or if I fight tooth and nail against the pain of His working in my life, I will not become like Jesus, and I will not be of full use to God. I would rather bear the pain for His manufacturing process and come out looking like Jesus – useful unto Him – than be sold for scrap!