October 13, 2010

To Live is Christ — Amen

When Christ came into my life, one of the first Bible verses I clearly understood and took to heart was this one from Romans:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Then, I understood it to mean that no matter what happened to me, God had good purpose for it and everything would turn out okay.

While that is partly true, what I didn’t understand then was the exact meaning of “good.” Like most Christians, I associated it with blessings and comfort. My idea of “okay” was a happy ending. I needed to read verse 29:

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)
The “good” that God has in mind is to transform me into the image of Jesus Christ. He is like the sculpture who chips off all the stone that does not look like the horse he is carving. He does the same with me, except that all of my trials, joys, struggles, negative and positive experiences, mistakes, and everything else in life are His tools. With them, He chisels away all that does not look like Jesus Christ.

I cannot complain about this correct interpretation of His “good” for my life. Nothing could surpass such a result. However, the process is not as comfortable as I first hoped or thought it would be. Not only that, the results can be uncomfortable too, particularly because a few chips of my old nature still remain in the carving.

To be like Jesus means that I will experience some of what He experienced. He was misunderstood, alone, and endured incredible trials and temptations. While He always had the joy of the Holy Spirit and the power God gave Him, I can expect that I will experience (and have already) some of those negative things. If any of my old nature gets in the way, instead of meeting them with steadfast faith and constant trust in the Father, I will experience fear, sorrow, loneliness, abandonment, and all sorts of negatives that don’t seem much like “good” to me, at least not at the time.

Yet the promise of Romans 8:28-29 is mine and it endures. It says “all” things — which means I cannot experience useless situations. God can use them all to produce in me that image that He wants. This makes life very interesting, even exciting. It is like playing I Spy with God. 

Yet my part in this is more than being a game player. God wants my full cooperation. I know His promise and it gives me great reason to seek His face for wisdom and grace with each situation of life. If He is going to use all of it for good, it seems reasonable that I be willing to learn about Jesus, be determined to respond to everything as Jesus would, and rely on the power of God to give me whatever I need to do just that.

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