God had a special goal in mind when He created the human race. It was no accident that we were made in His image (Ge 1:26, 27), rational, spiritual beings who exist forever after begin conceived, persons who share enough of His personhood to interact with Him as friends. His great, loving heart wanted a bigger familynot because He needed us, as though somehow He were incomplete without us, but simply because He desired to share His love more broadly. After all, the fellowship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit is one of perfect unity and love, so He wasnt lonely. Yet His most essential characteristic is love, and love rejoices to love more, to delight in the unique beauty of each person and let them delight in Him.
God determined that these human creatures would not relate to Him like the rest of creation. They would have the capacity to become like Him, or, more precisely, like His Son who in turn is exactly like His Father. Not only would they be like Him in that they would be spiritual and immortal, but they would become like Him in character, so He gave them the freedom of moral choice. For goodness and love to exist there must be this freedom because true goodness is rooted in the decision to do what is right, not merely in performing right behavior. A person can be made to do the right thing, but they become good when they choose to do the right thing, especially in the face of temptation.
What does Paul say? (Ro 8:14-17, 26-29)
Paul says we have become Gods adopted children and as such have been called according to purpose. He says were headed for future glory, but first must walk through this present reality which is evil, hostile and subjects us to trials. Yet these must not discourage us because God has committed Himself to use every event to transform us until we become like His Son. Amazingly, Jesus endured the same process (Heb 2:10, 17, 18). We are being prepared to minister and govern with Him both in this life and in the age to come.
When we view life from this perspective our thinking changes. We discover that what really matters in life is:
The transformation of my character
Submitting to my calling which is all about bringing salvation and love to others
Bringing energy and faithfulness to the exercise of my giftings
In other words, this life is about preparing for the next: me, as a person, and my influence on the eternity of others.
Q: How do I know what success looks like?
A: Go to a funeral and listen to what people say about the person who died.
What they did that made others feel loved
The selfless things they did for others
Evidence of true faith in God
Things they did that made people laugh
The great mistake people make is to pursue other goals to find meaning:
How much do I earn?
What titles do I hold?
How many people submit to me?
What symbols of success do I own (status symbols)?
A season of waiting (Ro 8:18-26)
Were investing in the wrong world. Heres how Paul describes this world. He says:
1) Creation groans: Its miserable and getting more miserable waiting for the day when righteous humans will rule it again.
2) Believers groan: We long to see Jesus and the Spirit keeps stirring this longing within us and praying for us.
The Spirit prays (Ro 8:26, 27)
From within us the Spirit constantly asks for Gods will to be done in our lives (Mt 6:10), and our spirit agrees with Him. God hears these prayers and answers them because they are prayed according to His will
they are aligned to His purpose for us.
Gods purpose (Ro 8:28, 29)
In all situations the Spirit asks the Father to take control, to use every event to edify us (build us up) and to not allow it to destroy us. Before He made the world, God determined what kind of people we must become in order to remain in His presence forever. He also determined that His Son Jesus would be placed in the position of honor as the eldest son over this great family of redeemed humans. In order to achieve this goal, He committed Himself to function as our spiritual father by putting His Spirit within us and coaching and assisting us in every situation. He determined that He would discipline, heal, train and refine each one of us, moving us toward His ultimate goal of making us like His Son: selfless, obedient, holy, pure, kind, generous, patient, forgiving, able to minister in power, able to lead and make wise decisions, worshipful, diligent in prayer, etc. In other words, fit to rule and reign with Christ.
And the process starts now. God doesnt wait to transform us all at once, magically, after we die. He begins the moment the Holy Spirit enters us and starts praying those prayers (v26, 27).
We have no choice in the matter. It isnt like Hes asking permission to do this in us. Hes predestined/foreordained it to happen before He spoke creation into being. But we can cooperate with it (1Co 11:31), we can recognize what Hes doing and long for it to take place (Ro 8:29), we can steward the hope that burns within so we dont return to loving this world (Ro 8:25), we can listen to the mind of the Spirit and not the flesh and save ourselves a lot of painful lessons (Ro 8:6).
Two ways of learning
Proverbs says there are two ways to learn the lessons God wants to teach us:
1) The wise can be corrected by a rebuke and teaching.
A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool (Pr 17:10).
2) A fool must be corrected through hardship
A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools (Pr 26:3)
There seem to be areas in my life where I can be instructed by Gods Word and other areas where I have to learn the hard way. But insofar as I am able to let the Holy Spirit guide me, and Gods Word instruct me, I save myself a lot of trouble. God has a goal for my life which I cannot escape. But I can control, in part, how painful the transformation will be.
1) What sort of changes has God been working in you lately? Have you resisted or cooperated with Him?
2) Have you identified some of the ministry gifts God has given you? How does He tend to use you for His service?
3) Have you been to a funeral where it became obvious from what people shared that the persons life was truly successful in Gods eyes?