God’s purpose

I often hear Christian authors mention how God is working out his purpose on earth. They seem never to specifically spell out just what his purpose is. Some will advise you, through prayer and study, to determine his purpose for yourself. They might say to examine what brings you joy, where your passions lie or to even take a test to find your strengths. I’ve taken one of those tests and it didn’t help much.

What exactly is God’s purpose for us? Is it different for each of us? It’s true we have unique personalities, talents and strengths, and God expects us to use them for good. In my life, I’ve felt God has led me, rather than leave me to figure it out through taking a strengths test or through any other effort or searching on my own.

What I have noticed is God’s purposes for us have nothing to do with what we do in life. It’s much bigger than that. “Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension are proof of the total and unwavering devotion of the Father to his loving purpose of including humanity in the joy and fellowship of the life of the Trinity” (The God Revealed in Jesus Christ: An Introduction to Trinitarian Theology, Grace Communion International).

He is, and will continue, including us in his life. As we cooperate with the Holy Spirit and let him fill us with himself, he does his transforming work in our hearts, making us more like his son (Ezekiel 36:26, NIV). His purpose is us!

God the shining cloud

“The angel replied, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God'” (Luke 1:35, NLT).

English: child Jesus with the virgin Mary, wit...

The Holy Spirit is a bit of a mystery to us mortals and people have done a lot of speculation about this third member of the Trinity. How fitting that Jesus was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit, a mystery within a mystery.

The Amplified Bible says the power of the most high overshadowed Mary like a shining cloud. It’s a bit reminiscent of when the Spirit of God hovered over the waters in Genesis 1. His creative power was on display at creation and again as new life was created within Mary—the God-man, arriving on earth as a newborn who would go on to live a perfect life, lay that life down for the love of humankind and redeem the whole of creation. The mystery continues as the same shining cloud dwells in us today.

God’s plan will succeed

“Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God,for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan” (Ephesians 1:11, NLT).

It’s amazing how much controversy can come out of five little words, but that’s what has happened with the phrase, “he chose us in advance.” I’m not going to get into it here, except to quote author Donald Fairbairn in Life in the Trinity, page 197: “I suggest that it is inappropriate to think in sequential terms about concepts that do not pertain to time.” He suggests “relating predestination, foreknowledge and free human actions to one another” is not a simple black and white issue, rather part of “God’s eternal decision to honor his own relationship with his beloved Son and his Spirit by bringing people into that relationship” (page 198).

As with other deep things of God, we don’t know the details and should probably stay away from dogmatic statements, but there is one thing we do know: his plan will succeed. The great I AM, who created the heavens and the earth and breathed his Spirit into us who are made in his image, will not fail in his grand design of redemption for humankind. He has already made it happen in Christ and nothing will prevent, thwart or frustrate what he has accomplished in his beloved Son.

Jesus died by God’s grace

“What we do see is Jesus, who was given a position ‘a little lower than the angels’; and because he suffered death for us, he is now ‘crowned with glory and honor.’ Yes, by God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9, NLT).

Cross & Clouds
Cross & Clouds (Photo credit: John H Wright Photo)

Some wonder if the death of Jesus happened because God was into child sacrifice. Or they think God’s anger was so out of control the only thing that would appease him was death for everyone, so Jesus, being the kindhearted, more loving member of the Trinity, volunteered to take the rap. How could a loving father require the death of his son, just to make himself feel better? But of course, God isn’t like that.

It wasn’t anger, revenge or the need for appeasement but rather the love, mercy and grace of God that motivated and put into action God’s plan of redemption for the human race. Jesus, who was God and was with God and already existed from the beginning with God (John 1), came to earth as a human being, lived as one of us, lay down his own life and tasted death for us all because of grace. Instead of putting up his hands as if to say calm down, dad, Father, Son and Holy Spirit linked hands and together, in love, did what only love and grace can do—free us from sin and death and give us life with him, forever.

Emmanuel, God with us

This article I wrote back in 2009 goes along with the verse from yesterday.

Anyone who has been to my home knows I love flowers. They are everywhere—in the backyard, in the front yard and in pots wherever I can find space. I love everything about them from planting them, watching them grow, and enjoying their fragrances and colors, to how they attract butterflies and hummingbirds. I wait all year for spring bulbs and I’m sad when they finish blooming. When a piece of a plant breaks off, instead of throwing it out I stick it in dirt and hope it grows. I talk to my roses.

I’ve always thought my love of flowers was genetic as my parents came from farming backgrounds. My dad was an avid gardener who also loved flowers. My mom’s yard is full of them and she loves them as much as me, or rather, as much as I do. I read a booklet by Baxter Kruger that changed my perspective on my passion for flowers, as well as my other hobbies and predilections. The booklet (available in e-book form on his website,www.perichoresis.org) is titled The Secret, not to be confused with the new age book of the same name.

Kruger tells the story of his encounter on a plane with a biologist. This man was enthusiastic about plants, so much so Kruger received an impromptu botany lesson. That prompted him to ask the biologist where he got his passion for plants. The man said he’d not really thought about it, so Kruger showed him a diagram depicting Father, Son and Holy Spirit and explained that his passion came from God’s passion. He didn’t say what the biologist thought, but I know what my reaction was: Aha!

That’s why I love flowers so much! That’s why artists paint, musicians play, singers sing, architects build, athletes play and compete, writers write and pilots fly. Our passion and creativity come from the passion and creativity of God, through the Son, in and through the Spirit. I was right, my love of flowers is genetic, but it’s DNA passed on to me through the shared life of Father, Son and Spirit.

So when the biologist who loves plants goes on a research trip or I plant yet another bulb or a poet writes a poem, we are expressing the image of God. Why is this important? It means, as many of us have suspected, our lives are not separate from God. As Paul said in Acts 17:28, “In him we live and move and have our being” (NIV). In Christ, all of life is shared life with the Trinity.

As I write, occasionally looking out the window at my flowers and fruit trees (and running out to chase the birds away), I am living “in the circle of the Triune life of God” (The Secret). All people, as we live out our passions or dream of living them, participate with God as he lives in us. He is Emmanuel. Our lives are in him. He is with us in everything we do. I think I’ll go plant something in celebration of God with us!