The writers of Encouraging.com are celebrating their fifteen year landmark by making their 365 daily devotional book, God Moments, available as a free digital download! A total of thirty-six GABC writers have faithfully captured “moments of God’s presence” in their lives to encourage your own spiritual journey. You can find God Moments on amazon.com, iTunes, and BarnesandNoble.com.
The truth about you is that you—and all humanity—was made to spend eternity with God. The truth about you—and all humanity—is that, although God has chosen you, you are free to choose or reject Him.
Christianity isn’t a lifestyle option; it is an irrevocable calling (1 John 2:19). To be His image bearer in this very dark world is to willingly expose the corrosion and dust that would erode His identity in us to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to patiently—often painfully—expose the glory of God that is hidden beneath. That process is called sanctification. And it won’t be completed this side of eternity.
Ah, and eternity. We all choose our identity and in so doing, we choose our destiny. For those with a worldview powered by self-improvement through self-effort, time will fade and confuse that original image of God with layers of seeking after what seems right in one’s own eyes (Judges 21:25). And, one day even that poor, distorted likeness will be completely obliterated by the dust of the grave and the judgment to follow.
For those who choose to follow Christ and yield to His Spirit through the painful and glorious process of sanctification, this is the future:
No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see His face and His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever (Revelation 22:3-5).
What kind of God would give His children a beautiful world, amazing gifts and the freedom to enjoy it, then, leaving them to their own devices, sit back and watch while His children attempt to discern the good from the bad, the life-giving from the death-bearing?
Not the God of Scripture. From the Old Testament record we know that, through the Prophets and the Law, He tried to reach a human race increasingly attracted to corrupt desires and sinful patterns. Even His clear discipline for their rebellion failed to effect a change of heart that would bring lasting repentance, a return to God--and the glory for which they had been created.
Then God sent His Son, not a decent copy or hit-or-miss representation, but the perfect image of who He was and who we were created to be. Our Savior left us the perfect Example. Not simply an example of wise words or unselfish deeds. He left us an example of perfect obedience borne of willing surrender to His Father’s plan.
… and being found in the appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross! (Philippians 1:8).
Through the power of God, Jesus Christ re-introduced that original image of God to a humanity for whom the imprint had been buried under generations of sin and rebellion. On one hand, dominion over the created order in His miracles; on the other, loving submission to the Father’s will-- from humiliation and death to victorious resurrection.
If and when we, by faith, invite the Holy Spirit of Christ (John 14:25) to reside in us, to teach us that path of loving trust and simple obedience that Christ modeled and to reveal and refine that image of God in us - then we will begin to understand the real truth about us.
That wonderful/terrible gift is, of course, the gift of free will. When Adam and Eve chose to disobey, a glass cracked and shattered and the first couple stepped over the shards into a new world of possibilities. It is a world whose possibilities mankind is still exploring and whose limits he is still testing.
We are free to choose…
To use our creativity to distort and destroy.
To use our spirituality to relate to evil forces and satanic beings.
To use our ability to communicate to build unhealthy and destructive alliances.
To use our magnificent minds to think unwholesome thoughts that lead us to corrupt actions.
To use our morality to know good from evil and to deliberately choose the latter.
No one knows how long Adam and Eve lived in the garden in innocent perfection. However long, their free will during that period was completely intact; it is just that their world was one of only good choices and Godward thoughts. Each day their deepest joy (they didn’t know any other kind) was being with and learning from their Father.
Into that peaceful, perfect world came the lie of Satan: God is not enough. There is a bigger world than the one He has provided for you. His truth is limiting, His power is insufficient, His wisdom is narrow, His ways are restrictive.
That lie still plays to packed houses all over the planet.
We have a precious two-year-old grand-daughter who has been loved, cared for and doted on from her first breath. But, all of a sudden, she is aware of a big world out there, and the people who have only given her good things have become somewhat suspect to her view of things. Do knives really hurt you, are stairs really that harmful, can eating rocks really be that big a deal? In her case, the answers seem simple. How many of us, though, are asking the same kinds of questions and pretending (to God and ourselves) that the answers are any less straight-forward.
We are creative: Every human makes things. They take what they have and re-order it to a new purpose or delight. You may not like the cake you baked or the thrift-store table you re-finished, but those are creative acts.
We are spiritual: More than body, we are soul/spirit. We look up, we wonder, we see beyond today’s reality to tomorrow’s hopes and dreams.
We are relational and communicative: Babies who are given food and water, but no nurturing, will sicken and die. To humans alone has been given the gift of language. By that, we reach out to make and build relationships.
We are intelligent: The human mind produces a constant flow of ideas, connections and conclusions and has a way of analyzing that information that is unique to each individual.
We are moral: Although we have fallen far from our initial innocence, we have a conscience that is able to differentiate good from bad and recognize differing consequences.
All these abilities were giving to us by God to equip us for dominion. But dominion is more than “ruling over.” It is fully knowing, creatively managing, constantly improving and, most of all, deeply enjoying.
This dominion had two sides, however. We were created to live under the dominion of a God who fully knows, creatively manages, constantly improves and deeply enjoys each of His children. Under His dominion we can grow in every possible way, intellectually, morally, spiritually, relationally. In knowing Him, in delighting in His ways, we can also discover the source of our deepest security, joy and peace.