Seeing as God wants us to see

Our lives are now hidden with Christ in God and when he appears we shall appear with him in glory. For God’s intention is to bring many sons and daughters to glory in Jesus. As he appears before his Father, he is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters for he is deeply one with us. In his Father’s presence he gladly declares, “Behold, I and the children God has given me”

Here and now we are called to live our daily lives with this ultimate purpose in view. That requires a REVOLUTION in the way we see. Little adjustments won’t do. We have made ourselves the centre of the universe with all things orbiting around us and for us. So we tend to see all things from a centre in ourselves. We are to rather see from a centre in God so that with the Father we see what he intends for his Son and us in him.

This revolution can only take place through REVELATION by the Spirit. For only the Spirit can unveil Jesus to the eyes of our hearts enabling us to see as God wants us to see. So, with Paul, we must keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that we may know him better. Knowing him better we know ourselves better. And we live and move in the sure expectation of our ultimate destiny that is inseparable from him.

Purpose Bigger than Ourselves

We humans were created for a purpose bigger than ourselves or anything else in this world.  Paul gives us a glimpse of this purpose in Romans 8.
In verse 29 Paul tells us that God’s ultimate purpose is that we might be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. The Father always delighted in his dearly loved Son with whom he was well pleased. And so he eagerly desired a vast family of sons like his Son.  This heart passion gave birth to his ultimate purpose.

In verses 15-18 Paul tells us that now the Father gives us the Spirit of adoption enabling us to live as the family of sons and daughters in union with his Son.  The Spirit of adoption enables us to cry Abba Father in full assurance while leading us daily into the life of dearly loved children before our Father. In the Spirit of adoption we are daily transformed into the likeness of God’s Son so that our final destiny is already happening.

Looking towards the future Paul invites us to see the whole of creation waiting in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For Creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God (19-22).

The Father’s purpose is all about his Son and the children in union with him. That’s us! And so we find a purpose that is bigger than ourselves or anything else in this world within his purpose

The Big Picture

In 2007 The Eagles put out a new album called “Long Road out of Eden”.  One of the tracks is “Frail Grasp on the Big Picture”.  We need to constantly hold God’s big picture before us, but our grasp is frail. Too often we lose God’s Panoramic view because we are looking at the little parts that relate to our own little lives. 

Long before anything existed Father, Son and Spirit were united in a communion of love and joy.  Within this communal life the Father had such delight in his Son that he wanted a vast family of children just  like him. This family would share in the communion of the Son with his Father in the Spirit.  And within this communal life they would be transformed into the likeness of the Son.  The Father loves the Son so much that he has a passion to see his Son in many other sons and daughters. All this will magnify and exalt the Son.  And this supremacy of the Son is the Father’s deepest passion and greatest purpose.  So it is the Father’s Son who fills God’s big picture from beginning to end.

For sure we are included in all this.  For according to the Father’s passion and purpose, his Son’s destiny is bound up with us and our destiny is bound up with his Son. For the Son was chosen before the foundation of the world to be Jesus: God with us as one of us and we with him in deepest union by the Spirit

The Father’s Ultimate Purpose

We humans need a sense of purpose and destiny that is within God’s Ultimate Purpose. But sadly, we tend to ask, “what is my purpose and my destiny”?  We see all things from our own viewpoint. And so each one becomes the very centre of his own small universe. We need to see from God’s point of view.
God had a purpose for us and the whole of creation before he made anything. That purpose has not changed. It was and is Jesus. All things were created through him and for him (Colossians 1:15). And by his Spirit God “has made known to us “the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:9-10 NRSV). The whole of the Father purpose is centred in his Son, is done through his Son and is for his Son.
Where do we fit in the Father’s purpose? God’s entire purpose is all about Jesus and Jesus is all about us. For we are in him and he is in us. God wants a large family who share the likeness of his Son (Romans 8:29 NRSV). We are that family of sons and daughters in union with the Son. But we must always remember that it isn’t about us. It is totally about the Father’s Ultimate Purpose in the Son for the Son. However, when the end comes the Son hands it all back to the Father so that God will be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Total Identification With Us

Jesus is the true God drawing near to humanity. So near he actually becomes one of us. He refuses to hold himself aloof from us. Even though he was always with God as God he does not stand apart from us. He becomes fully human tasting within himself all that it means to be human.

As the true human Jesus identifies with us fully even in our sin yet without sinning. We see this total identification when he was baptised along with sinners in a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Repentance isn’t simply saying sorry. Nor is it just a feeling of sorrow over sin. A person repents when he changes his mind about sin. He no longer excuses sin, but accepts God’s judgement on his sin. He confesses his sin as offensive to God and worthy of his just judgement. Jesus had no sins to repent over nevertheless, he stands with sinners confessing all the wrong.

On the cross the Father’s Son identified fully with us bearing God’s judgement upon us. He bore the full judgment of God upon sin within his innermost being. He accepted it all willingly without protest. At the same time offering himself freely to the Father on our behalf. In this way he entered into the depths of judgement on sin in a way we can never do. And he also entered into his Father’s grief and sorrow over our rebellion and alienation.

God as human identifying fully with us. This is the only God we know.

Relational God with a Relational Goal

Father and Son are so closely bound up with one another in the Spirit that they “indwell” one another. The purpose of this relational God for his creation is also relational. He wants to reach beyond his own shared life as Father, Son and Spirit to include us in love relationship. Furthermore, the way he achieves his purpose is also true to who he is as deeply relational. For God comes as close to his creatures as he can – in becoming human.

But while God wants to turn towards us we want to turn away from him pursuing our own goals. Indeed, we want to be the goal ourselves. So there is a chasm between God and humanity. A gulf that we cannot cross and do not even want to cross. The mutual relation intended between God and humanity needs to be repaired both from the side of God towards humanity and from the side of humanity towards God.

This chasm between God and humanity has now been bridged by God’s himself. He has himself acted in Jesus to reconcile the estranged parties. For Jesus is God drawing near to humankind and humankind brought near to God. In him the two are brought together as one. And so in him the goal of creation is sure “according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ  as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:9). Yes, everything brought together and summed up in him!

Free from The Law and Free for God

The law was God’s gift to his covenant people. By obeying the law’s commands Israel would express their faithfulness within covenant relationship. But the law has been taken captive by the powers of darkness turning it into an oppressive power. Sin and Satan work through the law turning people towards religious self-effort resulting in proud self-righteousness. On the other hand, law also reduces others to crushing bondage in guilt and shame. In these ways the law becomes “the strength of sin”, as Paul puts it.

Jesus was an Israelite “born under law” and as a faithful Israelite he fulfilled all the righteous demands of the law. He did so, not in mere conformity to legal requirements, but rather in love and faithfulness towards his Father. He always lived in trustful obedience to his Father and did so on our behalf so that he is our righteousness. Furthermore, in trustful obedience he was always moving towards the cross with the aim of setting us free from the curse of the law by bearing the curse in himself.

The Spirit of Jesus now lives in us so that the righteous requirements of the law are fulfilled in us who walk according to the Spirit. We now live in a new way as the new humanity free from law and yet free for God. “We are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code” (Romans 7: 6).

Rescued for Relationship

We were created by the God who is love for love relationship within the triune circle of love. Within this circle of love we are to freely accept God’s authority over us in response to his free love. But sadly we live under the anti-God powers of this dark age alienated from the One who is love. Nevertheless, in sheer love the Father sent his Son into the world to rescue us for himself. Yes, Jesus coming is God’s invasion into the domain where evil enslaves us. He came to break the power of darkness delivering us from its captivity.

At the very start of Jesus’ ministry he clashed with the powers of darkness as he was tempted in the wilderness. In one of the temptations Jesus was offered all the kingdoms of this world and their splendour if he would just fall down worshipping the devil. He totally refused this offer pledging himself to worship only his Father serving him all the way to the cross.

Jesus faced another sever temptation in Gethsemane. The choice was real: his will or the Father’s will. The pull to choose his own way was truly powerful. Nevertheless, he chose his Father’s will – the way of the cross. There, in darkness, he would overthrow all the powers of darkness. The Father responded by raising Jesus from death as Son of God in power with all authority in heaven and earth. And we are raised with him sharing in his victory and free to live within the circle of triune love.

Liberating Lamb

In the gospel story we often see Jesus casting out demons to set free oppressed people. He said that he did so by the finger of God. However, through his dying and rising Jesus frees people out of their bondage to sin, death and all the powers that enslave. All these powers have wrongly claimed authority over those whom God created for himself. They have attempted to displace God by grabbing his authority for themselves. They want us to serve them rather than God. In this way they have twisted, distorted and enslaved human life. However, Jesus dying and rising brings these powers to nothing. Stripping them of their claims over us he opens up an entirely new situation. The old order is brought to an end and a new order of freedom in the Spirit arrives.

We must never lose sight of how much this triumphant liberation cost Jesus himself. During the Passover meal Jesus spoke to his friends about his blood poured out for them. For he is himself the Passover lamb whose life poured out in blood sets us free from all the powers that enslave. That same blood also seals a new covenant in which we are free to share in Jesus’ relationship with his Father in the Spirit. Now with Jesus we give joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. (Colossians 1:12-14).

Our Passover Lamb

During Passover the Jews recalled the time when their God acted dramatically breaking the power of Egypt and setting free his enslaved people. The people were liberated from the oppressive power of Egypt so that they were free for covenant relationship with their God. Later in their history the people were in bondage under Babylon rule and the Prophets spoke of a future redemption out of Babylon exile. However, the prophetic vision reached beyond the immediate rescue out of Babylonian bondage into a new covenant relationship with God in the messianic kingdom of peace and joy.

This prophetic vision was fulfilled in Jesus, the Father’s servant-son. And he chose Passover as the moment when he would accomplish the new exodus., He acted at Passover because he is God giving himself as THE Passover lamb through whom those under the oppression of alien powers are liberated into newness of life in joyful freedom. He moves to offer himself as the lamb slain to reclaim the world lost in utter distortion and foolishness under bondage to alien powers. That liberation was accomplished in his dying and rising and yet it also set in motion a battle that will end finally in the triumph of God over all God’s enemies. Ultimately it is rescue out of the power of death as the last enemy. And rescue into fullness of life in God with Jesus by the Spirit.