I've been doing a lot of reading lately. I think having a Kindle is a big reason for that...I don't know. That theory will be the subject of another blog post. But regardless, it's definitely true. It seems I can't get enough. I usually have one work of fiction and one non-fiction going at once, just so I can jump back and forth.
Anyway, in reading so much, I have come across a truth has been off my radar for most of my life. One that I'm sure I knew but I just didn't think of it this way. And because I just seem to have nothing better to do on a Friday night than write, you get to read about it. Lucky you.
Ready? Here you go:
God did not save me to make me happy.
Kind of obvious...and kind of radical. But the more I look at Scripture the more I see its truth. The whole goal of God pursuing me to have a relationship with him was not - gasp! - to make me feel happy and safe about my life.
Why then? For his glory. To show the richness of his mercy, grace, wisdom, power, and love. To make much of him, not of me. Said another way, in the words of N.T. Wright (Surprised by Hope, p. 184) so that I would "worship the creator God and discover thereby what it means to become fully and gloriously human, reflecting his powerful, healing, transformative love into the world."
You see, it really is not about me. Even my salvation. And that last part is what I didn't get.
This is radical stuff to me. In many ways, but two are huge:
First, it means that eternal "fire insurance" is not a good motivation to be saved. If that's what I'm looking for, then I've made it about me. The prospect of heaven isn't either - again, that's about me and my enjoyment. The question before me when I decide whether to follow Jesus shouldn't be, "Will I walk streets of gold or will I burn forever?" because that makes it a selfish decision. The question is whether I will be part of God's wondrous plan to bring glory to himself and rescue his creation from evil, or will I be part of the problem? Oh, the eternal rewards (and consequences) are real...no question. But when we make the decision about that, I see now that we dim our view of God's glory, substituting our own.
Second, and most importantly to me, it gives my life purpose. If I've been rescued from my sin just to go to heaven (so that I can be happy forever), bring it on NOW. Why stick around? But that's not the reason. God has saved me to reflect him and be part of his plan for his creation. So from the moment I begin to follow Jesus, my mission begins. I am part of his divine reign and have a role to play. So instead of waiting for "the sweet by and by," I need to be getting about his business. I've got work to do: to love the unloveable (including my enemies), free the oppressed, take care of the helpless, and proclaim the good news that there's a new Sheriff in town.
Listen as Stephen Curtis Chapman sings about it:
Do you see how transforming this is? It makes our faith about changing this world and reclaiming it for its rightful owner. Not about just sort of putting up with this world because one day we'll get to leave it. No! We are saved to be agents of the King.
Let's get to it!