The starting point on our road to freedom begins with understanding: “What was God thinking when He created this world? What was His intent?” Ask ten Christians and you’ll likely get ten different answers, none of which start the hearers on the road to freedom!
It does not help that we are now in an era where we are continually subject to information overload especially via the internet. It is reminiscent of a time before medicine was a recognized scientific discipline, when the sick would lie in the streets and anyone so inclined would come by and offer an opinion as to the patient’s condition and possible cure. If one were to absorb all that is said of Christianity on the internet and in books, it would no doubt drive one to the verge of madness! Despite this, it must be remembered that God is NOT the author of that confusion and that He has given us His Spirit to guide us into all truth and into true freedom. Any shortcomings in our understanding of Christianity are on account of man’s natural reasoning and the adversary’s deceptions, to which none of us will ever be completely immune. Yet at the same time we have been given the Spirit to guide us into all Truth and we can count on that according to our humility and receptiveness.
Pursuing the answer to the question of why God created this world and the humans who dwell in it is perhaps the most important thing we can do because that answer colours everything else we come to know of our life with Him. If we think of Him as a harsh God requiring our unwavering obedience to gain acceptance, we will live continually conscious of our sin, always wondering if God approves of us. If we believe Him some kind of loving sugar daddy, we will be tempted to pursue our own interests without regard to righteousness towards our fellow man. But if we believe Him to be a loving Father who only disciplines His children and acts always out of His love for us, we will experience true freedom as sons and daughters of God. Consequently it makes all the difference in understanding why Jesus Christ died on the cross.
It is normal when the Gospel is proclaimed that those proclaiming and those hearing are most concerned about their eternal destiny. That is the way it should be as there is great joy for each soul whose name is recorded in heaven (Luke 10:20). It is also normal that the new follower of Christ being taught by the Spirit is initially most concerned with his own condition and not so much with things from God’s perspective, except to the extent that they relate to himself. There is a recognized Spiritual progression in the New Testament as we move from being children in Christ, to sons and then to fathers (1 John 1:12-14).
While all this might be normal, there is a hidden danger when our emphasis is on one’s personal salvation and well-being to the exclusion of understanding and embracing God’s ultimate intent. Maturity in Christ eludes us if we choose to focus on something which is only part of the big picture. There is not one of us who, like God, sees the end from the beginning and who can fully understand how our limited participation in God’s purpose fits in. This alone often causes division in the ekklesia (translated “church” in most versions of the bible) because we fail to recognize the cohesion between God’s working in our life and that of another. So we start with: “Why creation in the first place?” Was it because He, God, needed something from us?
“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;” (Act 17:24-25 NASB)
It is an egocentric view of Christianity that thinks we give God something He needs when we put on our Sunday best, head to church, sing our praises, pay our tithes and applaud the sermon. In the book of Job, even Elihu asks: “If you are righteous, what do you give to Him, or what does He receive from your hand?” (Job 35:7 NASB) Or do we think in our egocentric view that in our sin we are responsible for wrecking God’s day? Again Elihu asks: “If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against Him? And if your transgressions are many, what do you do to Him?” (Job 35:6 NASB)
Does God really need something from us to continue on in the perfect fellowship of the Godhead? Maybe we think too highly of ourselves if we think along those lines. Isn’t it we who need Him and not the other way around. The why of creation is not because God was lacking something that could only be solved by the creation of mankind. That does not mean that He doesn’t have a definite purpose in the creation of mankind just that it was not because He lacked something. Paul outlines his understanding of God’s purpose in his letter to the Ephesians. Consider that:
“He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.” (Eph 1:9-10 NASB)
The summing up of all things in Christ!
“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.” (Eph 1:11-12 NASB)
The summing up of all things in Christ, in whom we participate and have obtained an inheritance!!
“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” (Eph 2:19-22 NASB)
The summing up of all things in Christ, in whom we participate and have obtained an inheritance, being built together into the dwelling of God!!!
“To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. (Eph 3:8-12 NASB)
The summing up of all things in Christ, in whom we participate and have obtained an inheritance, being built together into the dwelling of God, so that the glory of God might be made manifest through us to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places!!!!
While confessing an inability to grasp the full significance of what Paul was trying to convey, it is clear that to reduce Christianity simply to our personal salvation or well-being falls far short of God’s ultimate intention. Failing to grasp God’s intent in creation, which is to have a corporate Son through which to express His (the Father’s) glory, leads us to view our own individual participation within the corporate body as more significant than it really is. As Paul writes:
“For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?” (1Co 12:14-17 NASB)
The start of our walk into freedom begins with realizing that it is not that God needs us but rather that He is inviting us to participate in His eternal plan and that our part in that plan is but a small part of the whole. It fits in with everyone else’s part, a realization that would do much to eliminate the strife and division within the church, the ekklesia. In fact, strife and division within the ekklesia is always a tactic of the enemy and as much as possible we should seek to transcend our differences by humbly seeking the truth as revealed by the Spirit until we come to a common understanding. Ultimately what is not of God in our works will be burned away and we will have a perfect expression of the body of Christ and it is to that end that the Spirit works. Isn’t this the spirit of what Paul meant when he wrote:
“According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1Co 3:10-16 NASB)
And in Ephesians:
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph 2:10 NASB)
Jesus said “I will build my ekklesia” (aka the church, the New Jerusalem, the body and the bride) and that is exactly what He is doing despite all our doctrinal differences, denominations and make-work projects done in His name. For our part, we strive to simply respond to the promptings of the Spirit and resist the enemy’s constant temptation to initiate activity on God’s behalf, as if we have it in ourselves to help Him out. Or as a friend puts it: “We act on the impulse of God without review.” As we shall see as we progress on, we are in union with Christ and can trust God “to work in us to will and to do according to HIS good pleasure.”
In ending this writing it needs to be pointed out that the working of God in our individual lives is with a view to us being a functioning part of the ONE new man in Christ and with Christ as the head. We are to be united in faith and truth but this in no way precludes our diversity in personalities. Nature itself testifies to a unified existence with multitude of diversity.