What does God want us to do for him? In other words, what is our purpose of being here? Why are we here? These are good questions for us to answer for they help us reorient our minds and know what should be a priority and what should come secondarily. To think of it, the reason why we have so many people in our homes and towns that are so idle and casual when it comes to everything (no sense of purpose whatsoever in life) is because they have not answered the ‘why’ question yet! And if they did, they have not answered honestly or correctly. For it is when this is answered rightly, life is lived rightly.
However, there is another question that I think is never asked, which also help us understand the ‘why’ question and help us strive to live purposeful in this life now. The question is, ‘what does God want to do in us and through us right now; what is that which He really wants to accomplish?’ What is his plan both for all of humanity and importantly in a Christian? In this article I would love to reflect on these above questions by carefully examining two scriptural passages and give an angle which is often overlooked. My deepest longing is that God really use this reflection to cause us to rid of all our pride and purge all forms of sin that easily cling to us, and in all humbleness recommit ourselves to Him again. In honesty, I am writing this reflection to myself, for I know that I have not been as obedient and faithful as I ought to be, I have not been purposeful in my study and application of God’s word as I ought to. And my sincere cry as I write to the many out there is that, ‘pass me not o gentle Savior’ but impress upon my heart this and make it true in me.
I am of the opinion that the reason why often the Christian faith has not been affective enough as it promises is primarily because it has been misunderstood. It has been misunderstood both by the laity and clergy, and consequently, the Kingdom of God has been replaced by the Kingdom of the church/denomination. If you are to ask several people, what is the aim of Christ/God in you? The following three answers are usually heard: 1. We need Christ/God in order that we become good people, to have good-healthy homes, churches and societies. 2. We need Christ to have a successful life, so that we prosper in all areas of life. 3. We need Christ to do away with all bad luck and evil spells and curses that may befall on us.
Well, these answers are not really wrong in themselves, but they are only half truths, and can lead to misunderstanding to what Christ really wants to accomplish in us. If you are to carefully examine them, they all point to what God/Christ must do for you, how God must be a servant to you. Now, it is true that there are a lot of benefits we get in Christ when we become Christians; but is that all there is to being in Christ? Does God only exist to serve us? Is all of life all about me being favoured and my goodness? I think not!!! Thus, I am never surprise to hear ‘Christians’ always crying for blessings, promotions and success. Clearly, something is misunderstood.
I would love to turn to our two scriptural passages for the rest of time. To briefly answer our burning questions I proposed above then, God wants to reveal and expose himself to us and make us into his peculiar possession. Let us observe this through the two passages:
- Genesis 1:26-27,
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
In Genesis, the book beginnings, we find the beginning of us, and it is from here that we are told by the Creator who we are and what we should be. My interest in this wonderful passage is the little but wholesome phrase, ‘image of God’. The image of God has so much to do with man and his relation to God. To be made in the image of God unlike any other creature that God has made is to embody God’s communicable qualities or characteristics. As MacArthur clearly states it in his Study Bible saying, man “In his rational life, he was like God in that he could reason and had intellect, will, and emotion. In the moral sense, he was like God because he was good and sinless”. This is to say that after God had created all things, he has made man who is his exact representative to rule and govern that which God had made. With that thought then, it is clear that the image of God in man is there to represent God. Therefore, the object of reflection and center in man is nothing other than God. In his/her (for he created them in two forms) relation with each other and with the rest of creation and his work, he was to portray God.
Coming home to our question then, it is clear that from the beginning of creation there is something that God wants to accomplish through a man (male and female). Evidently God wants to showcase Himself through a man. And God was not intending to play in the background, but He is the antecedent of the image in man. Man is to reflect God and display God and make God known. He (man) is not to showcase himself and become the center of attraction. But God must be revealed and the attraction. This has always been the plan of God in man from the beginning.
But you can protest, ‘come on Werner is that really true and how can that be? I’ve been here on earth for a while now, and I have not seen anyone really displaying God!’ Well, you are right to think in such a manner and I can add that, ‘you also have not been displaying God for you are fully made in the image of God’. Dear reader this has to be so because of the problem of sin in Genesis 3. Adam and Eve were deceived and because they were our exact representatives (meaning, whatever they were and will do, will happen to us as well and if put in the same circumstance, we will do exactly likewise). Adam and Eve were already like God, for they unlike the Satan, were made in His image. Satan said, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil”. In short, they forgot who they were and fall from reflection God. The consequences are that man has stopped reflecting God and has made the image to display something other than God. No wonder Romans 8 and verses 7 to 8 talking about any person born on this earth, says, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God”. So it is never a surprising to see evil accelerating, for man has departed from God.
And this is where the coming of Christ is so central and of much importance, for he came as and to be the perfect image of God. And his mission is to restore the image of God in us so that we can display God again (Colossians 3:9). When one is in Christ he is a new creation, meaning that he is being restored and re-created in the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Thus again, what Christ want to accomplish in us is to conform us to his image and inevitably to display him (Romans 8:29). Christ who is God wants us to abide in him and reflect his likeness. Allow me to move on to the next passage of Scripture as Christ says the same thing but goes a little deeper.
2. John 14:21-23,
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
I am highly persuaded that in this section above as Christ talks to his disciples, he is not primarily saying something new. He is answering the question of, ‘what God want to do or accomplish in a life’. However, he expounds farther on that task and gives a deeper explanation of what God wants to accomplish. Two phrases are of key importance here, ‘manifest myself to him’ and ‘we will come to him and make our home with him’. From the above point, it is clear that we exist to display God. But because of sin, we do not do that, nor can we do it. But God by his grace makes us alive and calls us to himself (Ephesians 2:4-10). And as we are now in Christ, God is daily working in us to conform to his image once again, the image of his Son who is Christ (Romans 8:29). This is what Christ is talking about here, as we have the Holy Spirit counseling, guiding, comforting, and teaching us. The word of God, the Scriptures are very central in this task, for Christ says, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them”. It is through the Scriptures that Christ/God will accomplish this in us. However on the same strong note, this highly depends on the presence and working of the Holy Spirit, God the Holy Spirit in us. Observe verse 26 which says that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things concerning Christ. Also read 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 to understand the work of the Holy Spirit in enlightening and opening our eyes and hearts (Ephesians 1:17-18) to the Scriptures. As a result, Christ will reveal and expose himself in that individual. The fruit of the Spirit that will be produce in that individual are the means by which Christ is manifesting himself, and therefore displaying Christ.
Note that this ‘new way’ of displaying God highly involves you. It does not happen spontaneously, magically, or passively, but ones active obedience and desires are involved. At one angel this clarifies Romans 12 and verse 1, being a living sacrifice. Your whole being is involved and it is to be presented and used for the cause of Christ. And the primarily goal is not for you to become a good person necessarily, but to allow Christ to work in you. It involves you setting yourself apart as a clean vessel for God, and while doing so, you in turn are being cleanse and becoming good (2 Timothy 2:20–21). Our chief end in all of life is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. By glorifying God we are making much of God in us and through us, and therein rest our true joy and enjoyment. Therefore our goodness is stored in Christ being much in us.
The second phrase of Christ just adds more weight to this task! When a born again Christian is in the pursuit of Christ, constantly in the word and not grieving the Holy Spirit, he/she is becoming a home for God. The Christian is a special dwelling place for God, the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Dear reader, words cannot explain what Christ is saying here, but simply that you are his home. Not the church building, but you. This clarifies then why a believer (Christian) is not to pursue a marital or sexual relationship with a non-Christian individual, no matter how loving they may seem to be (2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1). Again this clarifies Peters words and that of Moses in Leviticus, being holy since God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). For if God is holy, set apart from any corruption and in a special category as a being (1 John 1:5-6), how should his dwelling place be? If we as man can make luxurious homes for our kings and presidents, how much more ought we to focus on the dwelling place of God? How much more should we surrender ourselves to our God and holy consecrate our entire selves to him? Only when this is true, are we real dwelling places for God. We are to be a person where Christ reveals himself firstly to each of us, knowing more and more of his glories and person, yet secondly also Christ revealing himself objectively to the world through us.
- You need to be a Christian first to be a suitable home for God. You need to be born again, born from above. Christ is not looking for good people, who are trying all the best to be good. But he came to save the needy, dead-spiritually, foolish and sick to restore and renew them and make them suitable God’s dwelling place (Mark 2:17). So are you a Christian? Have you accepted him as your Lord and Savior? If you have not done this, run to him today and be saved.
- You are not a suitable home for God if you claim to be a Christian and your life is exactly the same as before. The implication of the new life in Christ is that there will be fruit, there will be growth happening. If there is no growth, no reducing sin, be highly concerned and examine yourself. God has no fellowship with anyone who claims to love God and be known by God and yet walks in darkness (1 John 1:6).
- Sin and lack of commitment to the things of God, rob Christ the chance to reveal himself through us. You are not just cheating yourself, but you are suppressing Christ to work. This is where the whole problem of grieving the Holy Spirit comes in because the Holy Spirit wants to manifest Christ in his working. But when we are not heeding to his guidance we are suppressing and rejecting him and consequently robbing Christ.
- Lack of Bible reading, studying, applying it and meditating on it, 1) We starve ourselves of Christ, and 2) We block Christ aim in us. There reason why many of us are still worldly in feeling and thinking is because we are spiritually malnourished. We do not feed on the heavenly bread which is from above, the Scriptures. Our lives are busy and filled with a lot of stuff that do not promote godliness.
- The aim of your life, of your Christian life is not just being good, but it is Christ. He is the objective in your life. So do all and avail yourself to all opportunities that allow Christ to work in you. Therefore, go to church and highly be involved in the life of the church, go for a mission trip, supporting missions, serving others and invite them into your home, disciple others (or grab someone to be reading the Bible and other good Christian books together), and constantly be engaged in the word publically and privately. It is never in vain!!
Dear reader, especially you Christian friend, God is daily working in us (believers) to conform us to his image once again, the image of his Son who is Christ (Romans 8:29; Ephesians 1:4; 4:20–24; Colossians 3:9, 10), so that we may be a perfect dwelling (home) for God and so that we may represent God correctly and glorify him now and in eternity. This is the goal and purpose of creation and redemption of man. When Christ appears (returns) we will be perfected; we will be glorified; we will be freed from the presence of sin. Our bodies will be redeemed (Rom. 8:18–23). The image of God in us which was affected by the fall will be restored completely and even made much more glorious when Christ returns (1 John 3:2–3). When our Lord Jesus Christ appears in glory on that sure certain day, may we be found with our garments washed in the blood of the Lamb, saved lives pursuing holiness in Christ. This is what pleases and glorifies our God, and this is what we exist for (Titus 2:11 –14).