Embracing His Purpose

I was hiking in the mountains recently. At higher altitudes, where the snow was melting, there were differences in what was happening with the water. At places it was simply mist coming over a cliff, in other places there were small waterfalls and streams. At the trailhead at the bottom of the mountain there was a wide rapidly moving stream. This stream then flowed into a river fed by many other streams. Observing this some spiritual truths came to mind.

The first, which I have written about before, is in the verse below.

4  There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. Psalm 46:4 (NKJV)

In this we can see the idea that within the body of Christ there are many different streams or movements that ultimately all flow into the same river. However on this occasion I was drawn to another aspect. Streams are made up of many droplets of water. Each drop, though unable to be seen in a stream, is important. We may think that our drop doesn’t matter and we can be left out. Yet if every drop in any of the many streams of the church thought that we would have no streams and no river.

When we became believers something happened inside of us. As His new creation workmanship we were assigned a calling and purpose.

10  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)

God set us up for success in His kingdom, not success in terms of finances or other things as defined by the world. He set us up for success in walking out what He called us to, the fulfilling of our purpose in His kingdom. An important word in what Paul wrote is ‘should.’ We should be walking in His calling and purpose. If we are not we can ask Him for wisdom to be found faithful in what and where we have been called.

While the works He has prepared for us may each be a drop in the larger stream of His purpose His desire is that all of the drops are achieving their purpose. All of our drops are needed to flow into the river of His purpose.

Living with Wisdom

Paul is eminently practical. We have one of many examples of his practical theology in what he shares with the church at Thessalonica, on how to deal with adversity. Paul recognized that the believers in Thessalonica were enduring suffering (2 Thess. 1:5) so provided the wisdom below.

13  But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14  to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15  Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle. 16  Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 17  comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 (NKJV)

He informed them that they, and by extension we, were: 

  • Chosen for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and a belief in the truth,
  • Chosen to obtain the glory (character) of Jesus,
  • Were to walk in obedience,
  • His comfort and consolation are available to establish us in good words and actions.

In essence, Paul informed them that the difficulties they were going through were an opportunity for the glory (character) of Jesus to be worked into and revealed in their lives. This would come about if they were cooperating with the Spirit’s sanctifying work in their lives and if they continued to hold fast to the truth of the gospel. His summation and comfort was that good things awaited them, an everlasting rather than temporal consolation.

Practically in our current environment this means embracing a deep rooted commitment to speak the truth in love. It means not getting caught up in the swirling emotions of our times but to live out our faith. It means not asking what Jesus would do but seeing what Jesus is doing and coming into agreement with His purposes. I have found the need to check myself and saw someone else on social media acknowledging the same thing. We are in a highly emotionally charged time and need to lean into Jesus to respond with a right heart.

I have challenged some comments and supported others in my goal of demonstrating Jesus heart. I saw a post saying, “Christians worship and follow an innocent man of color who was killed by police officers.” While I can see the intent I see this as the type of characterization that needs to be challenged. The problems I see in it are that in trying to use it to combat racism it fails to acknowledge that Jesus was in fact the only truly innocent man who was ever killed. Further, he was of the same culture and race of those who wanted Him to put to death. We need to acknowledge the problem but address it with wisdom.   

We are called to provide leadership to those around us and reveal Jesus no matter the circumstances. I know I need to thoughtfully weigh my comments and reactions in this hour and be very aware of how I am representing Jesus.

Wisdom in this Hour

In this post I will briefly address what is happening in North America with the protests and ‘Black Lives Matter’ focus. I have not followed all of it, the news is overwhelming as the two things currently dominating the news cycle are Covid-19 and the protests over racial injustice. To know how to respond we need both wisdom and discernment. For that we are called to look to the Spirit and scriptures not the media, as there are two types of wisdom we can draw on.

13  Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. 14  But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15  This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16  For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. 17  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. 18  Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:13-18 (NKJV)

James is clear that as believers there are two sources we can draw on for wisdom and they are both spiritual. One is the demonic realm and the other is the heavenly realm. We can determine the source by examining the fruit. The fruit of drawing on demonic wisdom is envy, self-seeking, confusion and other manifestations of evil. Heavenly wisdom is pure, peaceable, and gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and similar manifestations of the nature of heaven.

In examining the current situation with the riots and protests I have seen many posts quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr regarding riots. “Riots are the language of the unheard” as a justification for the current riots. Yet the statement came out of an interview with Mike Wallace on CBS and in context Dr. King said this in response to the riots that were happening and those suggesting a movement away from Dr. King’s approach, “I contend that the cry of ‘black power’ is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard.” Yet this was an acknowledgement, not an endorsement. While many in the black community were demanding more action Dr. King said, “Now what I’m saying is this: I would like for all of us to believe in non-violence, but I’m here to say tonight that if every Negro in the United States turns against non-violence, I’m going to stand up as a lone voice and say, ‘This is the wrong way!’ He further said, “I will never change in my basic idea that non-violence is the most potent weapon available to the Negro in his struggle for freedom and justice. I think for the Negro to turn to violence would be both impractical and immoral.”

If we want to know the source of the events happening in our time we merely need to look at the fruit. Is what is happening being sown in peace? Is the result peace, gentleness and mercy or anger and bitterness?

Source for Dr. King interview


He Sees Part 2

In my previous post I looked at how Jesus seeks to support right hearts and wants us to see from His perspective. We can see more of what He sees by digging a bit deeper into Luke 4:18-19.

18  “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” Luke 4:18-19 (NKJV)

In context Jesus read this in the synagogue in Nazareth and it was His first public declaration that He was the long awaited Messiah. He was reading from Isaiah 61:1-2 and His hearers knew it was a messianic prophetic promise. It was even clearer when Jesus finished reading and addressed those assembled.  

  20  Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21  And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:20-21 (NKJV)

In essence Jesus said, “This prophetic promise is about Me.” Luke 4:18-19 tell us that Jesus sees the poor who need the gospel, He sees and heals the brokenhearted, He sees the captives and sets them free from bondage to sin. He sees the spiritually and naturally blind and enables them to see again. He sees the oppressed and breaks the burdens off of them. He sees the need for repentance and a welcome into God’s family and so proclaims His redemptive favour, the doors of the kingdom are open wide to the repentant.

Given that Jesus does these things and calls us as co-labourers we can see our role in two ways. We can be both the recipients and conduits of His grace.  We are called to see the poor who need the gospel, to see and heal the brokenhearted, to see the captives and set them free from bondage to sin. We are called to see the spiritually and naturally blind and enable them to see again. We are called to see the oppressed and break the burdens off of them. We are called to see the need for repentance and to offer a welcome into God’s family. Conversely, when we are in need of any of these things others are called to see and come alongside.

Our calling is to see His work in one another’s lives and build what He is building. Nothing more, nothing less.