One of the most popular books in the last few years has been The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren, and I agree with every word. It’s always good for people to understand and strive for their purpose for which they’ve been created. Of course, this concern for one’s purpose is nothing new. Philosophers have long debated the summum bonum, the highest good for mankind.
This brings us to the last major reason why bad things happen in our lives. When I received Christ as my Lord and Savior, everything changed for me. God no longer primarily relates to me as my Judge. Yes, I'll one day give an account to him for what I’ve done in his service, but my sins are all covered and forgiven. He's now my Father, my Savior, my Boss, and my closest friend. So let’s make this clear. He no longer deals with me according to what I deserve but according to what I need.
The problem is that what I think I need and what God knows I need are sometimes two very different things. I think I need a new car. I think I need to get along with my boss better. I think I need more money to pay bills and buy new stuff. There might be nothing wrong with that, but none of that is ultimately what I need.
What do I need? To be more like Christ, in the way I think, in the way I talk, and in the way I act. He will spare no pains to me or to himself to accomplish this goal, to be able to look at me and say “That’s the perfect likeness to my Son.” That's his ultimate purpose, his "goal line" for me.
And how did Jesus learn obedience? Heb. 5:7-9 makes it clear that he learned obedience through eating potato chips and watching TV. Oops, sorry, I read that wrong. It says “he learned obedience from what he suffered.” This doesn’t mean that he was dis-obedient at anytime up till that point; it means that he had never experienced obedience to the fullest extent until the cross. It was there that his obedience to the Father was made complete.
So whatever I need to become more like Christ is what God will bring into my life. I might not understand how he’s using it, but I know why he’s using it. Everything, both good and bad, is being used to conform me to his likeness. In talking about why this process is so painful at times, C.S. Lewis used the illustration of a house. Imagine that you’re a living, breathing house. Jesus moves into the house and starts renovations. You understood all this, since you were pretty run-down before: He fixes the plumbing, repairs the holes in the roof, replaces some broken windows. But then he starts doing something more. He’s banging, sawing, hammering all over the place. He starts adding on new floors, digging up everything in the backyard and putting in a garden, starting a whole new wing on the side. And all of this is so painful as he's cutting off and adding on, and then you start to realize what’s happening. You thought he was going to make you into a nice little cottage, but no. He’s slowly turning you into a palace. He’s a King, and that’s where kings live. And he'll never be satisfied, he will spare no pain or effort to himself or to you, until that happens.
Lord Jesus, I’m ready. Whatever you need to do, whatever you’re asking of me, the answer’s yes.
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