Let me ask you, what is God’s greatest purpose for you, His child? Each of us can interpret a question like this differently. We read it with our built-in assumptions.
When purpose comes to my mind, I’m thinking of intentions or objectives. Things aimed at or sought after. And not just any objective or aim but the greatest, the most worthy of consideration for those who’ve received Him—His children (John 1:12).
A couple possible answers to this question could be serving (Psalms 100:2) or obeying (1 Samuel 15:22) the Lord. Other possibilities might be loving Him with our whole self (Mark 12:30) or doing everything to His glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).
These are all good, but would we say that any of these possibilities are God’s predominant purpose for His children? Looking to earthly parents, do they have children for these reasons? If so, it doesn’t take long for that dream to end.
These answers suggest that we may have been deceived into thinking of God as a cosmic codependent who has a bad day if we fail to do the things we should. Sadly, this limits our interaction with Him, making it all about producing right behavior.
Acts 17:25 has been helpful to me. It says, "nor is He (God) served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things" (NASB). I find I am relieved to see that it all starts with God, not with me. He doesn’t need a thing, including my right behavior. Is He concerned about my behavior? Sure! But it’s not His primary focus.
God’s main objective is found in Romans 8:28-29. "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters." (NLT)
His purpose for His children is "to become like" (literally molded into) the image of His son Jesus. Joyfully, this idea of image reminds me of parents talking about a baby’s family resemblance.
Friend, to understand this better, let’s look at the close of Jesus’ final prayer in John 17:25-26. He summarizes His purpose by saying that the world did not know God the Father but He did and He made God known. God’s great purpose for Jesus was to reveal Himself through Jesus. And the Son can not do anything of Himself, including accomplishing this purpose, without dependence upon the Father (John 5:19).
Understanding God’s greatest purpose for Jesus, our example, helps us understand His greatest purpose for you and me. His purpose is that, by His power, just as Jesus revealed the Father, we would reveal Jesus in and through us. This idea is seen all over the New Testament specifically in 2 Corinthians 4:11 where it says "we who are living are always being exposed to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be plainly seen in our mortal lives." (PHILLIPS)
By our utter dependence upon Jesus, as He was with His Father, He is revealed in and through us. Apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). We will look like Him, as it says in Romans 8. And wouldn’t we say that He serves, obeys, loves, and brings glory? Then so will we, as we trust Him by faith. Because, God’s many purposes flow from His greatest purpose.
Is this idea of God’s greatest purpose resonating with you? If so, I would encourage you to go further by attending a Grace Life Conference. On the ELM web site (elmco.org), you can find information about the conference (under Equipping) and a schedule of upcoming conferences in the United States (under Events).
I’ll be writing again next month. We’re almost finished with our updated logo. If all goes well, next month’s letter will have the new logo, envelopes, and paper. In the meantime, if I can do anything to encourage you, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Settle for nothing less than God’s greatest for you!
Mike Roncaglia, Executive Director