What if the purposes of God have been all along to repair that which is fractured and broken. What if the purposes of God have been to mend, heal, and restore his good creation so that there would once again be a perfect union of heaven and earth. And what if humanity has the opportunity to be the first part of that which God is mending and repairing through the work of the Holy Spirit in order that we might have life to the fullest NOW? And then…what if our primary role is to continue outward and onward helping God in the repairing process? How might this change the identity, role, and function of the Christian in the world if we understood our faith to be more than just “getting people to heaven?”
Consider the following passages in light of the previous questions:
John writes that, “The reason that [Jesus] appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.”
In the book of Luke, Jesus tells a crowd of followers that, “I must preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”
We can conclude that since the work of Satan has been to disrupt, fracture, break, oppress, enslave, and destroy God’s good creation (including humanity)…then the purpose of Jesus was to undo the work of Satan. To mend…restore…reconcile… unburden…liberate…and piece back together that which has been broken.
In order to begin undoing (or destroying) the work of Satan, Jesus preached the primary message of the Kingdom of God. The message of the Kingdom of God would take root in the hearts and minds of those who heard and believed…and as a result would undermine the work of Satan by liberating those have been enslaved and oppressed and would open the eyes of those who have been living blindly in the world.
The message of the Kingdom of God confronted the ways and wisdom of the world. The message of the Kingdom of God confronted every oppressive system and ruler on earth. The message of the Kingdom of God offered a new way of life…lived in all its fullness and in great abundance. The message and embodiment of the Kingdom of God…in and through Jesus Christ…offered people an alternative of freedom and liberation and an escape from the crushing and oppressive forces at work in the world. The message of the Kingdom of God was that life does not have to be this way. It can look different. It can be experienced in ways that you have never known before…in ways you have never considered…and you will be taught and empowered so that you may have it and experience it now. And then, you will be sent out into the world to extend this Kingdom alternative (this life to the fullest) to the rest of the world.
Jesus said it himself, “I have come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full.”
And then, “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them in baptism in the three-fold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day, right up to the end of the age.”
So while we anticipate our future hope…we anticipate and embody it presently. We operate by a different standard…a new way of thinking and being…a new way of being human…that is given to us freely by God through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit refines, restores, shapes, and pieces us back together and makes us whole and healed.
The Spirit takes us from a conditional way of living into an unconditional way of living.
We not only love our friends but our enemies. We experience joy, not just in the good times but in the bad as well. We extend peace, not only when times are calm but also when others are warring with us and around us. We are patient, not just when people and situations meet our expectations but when they do not meet our expectations. We are kind, not only to those that are agreeable but to those who are disagreeable. We are gentle, not only to those who are closest to us but to those who are considered outcasts. We are self-controlled, not only in situations in which others can see our actions but also in situations when no one can see what we are doing. And as the Spirit is refining, molding, and shaping us into the likeness of Christ, we become the vessel or the conduit through which the Spirit works to extend healing and restoring to the world. Seeds are planted in the fertile ground of our hearts and minds being watered by the Holy Spirit in order to produce abundant fruit…that will then be used to plant more seeds in the fertile ground of other hearts and minds.
As such…the Christian, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, operates with a different mindset…a different value system. It isn’t a mindset or value system that looks like the way of the world. It is a mindset and value system that looks like the mindset and value system of Jesus. It looks like a life where God is reigning in the hearts and minds of every person. It looks like a life in which heaven is breaking out on earth through the words, actions, and disposition of every follower of Christ. This is why it is absolutely essential that we are a Spirit-filled, Spirit-seeking, Spirit-led Church. There is no point in gathering together unless the Holy Spirit is working and moving in power in us, through us, and among us. Without the Holy Spirit working through us in power, we could just as easily be a civic group, a nice charitable organization, or a country club.
It is through the free gift of the Holy Spirit that God is raising to life the Body of Christ (or those who follow the way, life, and teachings of Jesus Christ). In the Holy Spirit, God is breathing a breath of new life…new creation…into this Body of Christ that picks up its cross and dies daily to the old sinful ways. This Body of Christ is given power (dunamis– greek– dynamic, forcee, power, capacity, potential, potency, capability and faculty (ability, skill, or power), not simply to be transformed into the likeness of Christ (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control)…but to embody and extend the reign of God in and through our lives as we teach and train (disciple) others in this abundant life.
But while we have taken some steps in understanding the situation in which we find ourselves presently and the great need we have for the Holy Spirit to be working in us, around us, and through us…we are still left with one primary unanswered question.
What exactly is life to the fullest anyway?
continue on to living beyond the church answer (part 3)…