How do these three great themes of scripture connect with our mission as God’s people?
We’ve just finished a 90 day reading of the New Testament where our focus was on God’s vision and mission for His people. We discovered that seeking, saving and serving do indeed sum up God’s mission for us here today. Just as God’s vision for us is to be like Jesus Christ, His Son, also our mission is to do His will and be the body of Christ in this world. Seeking, saving and serving are words that truly describe Jesus working among us, for us, with us and through us. Now that we know these things, we will be blessed if we DO them.
Jesus told us, “Not everyone that says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he that does the will of the Father who is in heaven.” Jesus makes it clear that Christians have a mission. That mission is to do the Father’s will! Jesus accomplished His mission by seeking and saving the lost, humbly and obediently serving among us, doing the will of His Father. He is our model and example. He is our life. All scripture is God breathed and profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that every Christian can be equipped and complete in Him, made ready by God’s grace to accomplish God’s mission.
So, just what does the scripture say about God’s plan for us? The Bible begins by telling us how God created all things. It shows how He prepared a planet for us to live in and on. It reveals that He then created humanity, male and female to be like Himself. In the Bible we see that God made man in His own image and likeness: “In the image of God He created man, male and female He created them.” This tells us more about ourselves than we can fully appreciate! Just think of it! The Bible says that we humans were made to be like God. It also reveals that God had a purpose for us, a plan and goal that would bring us to Himself to enjoy His presence forever. That’s when we begin to see it. God gave us a mission. He blessed us and told us to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it; to rule over all creation… that is, to use and care for this world just as He would. God even prepared a garden in which we could live and begin to accomplish the mission He gave us. All was created by God and everything was good, very good.
Where was hope, faith and love in that time and place?
Our hope was given us to accomplish His mission. Our faith was granted us through hearing His word to direct our lives into His will and learn His ways. Our love compelled us as the motive of our service to Him in doing His will. All of these: hope, faith and love, depended on our relationship with Him and our submission to Him in obedience to His instruction to us. It was all designed by God for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory. God also ordained that there be space for us to choose His will. That required risk. It required that we be able to fall away from Him. In God’s wisdom, He allowed us to turn away from Him, even while He is not willing that any should perish. We also discover that He is not willing that we have no will (no choice) in the process. It had to be so. In order for us to truly be like our Father, we must have the will and opportunity to choose. In that case the risks are high: hope could become hopelessness, faith could become unbelief, love could become cold. God not only allowed this to take place, He planned for a Redeemer to take the responsibility and punishment for us when turned away. God would reveal Himself to a lost world and come seeking, saving and serving even those who would crucify His Son. All things were in place. The garden of Eden was about to be invaded.
So… enter the tempter.
The Bible tells us that God had given specific instructions about the fruit of the trees in the garden. Adam and Eve were welcome to enjoy fruit from ANY tree in the garden… except one, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God warned them, “In the day you eat of this tree, you will surely die.” God ALWAYS tells the truth. Adam and Eve knew God’s word on this and if they believed God’s word in faith, and honored it in obedience, their likeness with God would shine. If they loved God and would honor His word and keep their hope in Him, all would go well. But that was not to be.
There came into the garden where Adam and Eve dwelt an enemy who disrupted it all. The serpent, the tempter, Satan, came and deceived Eve with lies. Instead of keeping her hope in God and continuing to seek to please Him, she turned her heart to hope for something else, seeking after a lie. Instead of trusting God in faith that His words were true, she listened to the lies of the serpent and lost her faith. Instead of loving God in obedience, she let the desires for the fruit make her love grow cold.
Genesis 3 tells the story well. As Adam and Eve abandoned their hope, faith and love for God, they could not know how terrible was the loss. But God knew. His purposes are not threatened, but actually began to be revealed in the fall. All who come to God do so by His grace, through hope, faith and love. What God reveals to us is clear: without Him all is hopeless, faithless, and without love. It is when we are in THAT lost condition, God demonstrates His saving love for us. See Romans 5:6-10. God somehow gives us all over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on us all. (Romans 11:32). Is God therefore the author of sin? May it never be! But did God ordain space and a place for temptation and sin to enter? Of course! It could never have done so without His permission. While God is not responsible FOR sin, He does TAKE responsibility and punishment for it through Christ’s death on the cross. God’s mission is accomplished in Jesus Christ. God’s vision for us is that we would be like Christ. That includes choosing the will of God over and against out own will.
- It means that we put our HOPE in Him as we seek Him, we seek His kingdom first, we seek to please Him and we keep seeking things above, things eternal.
- It means that we put our FAITH in Him and are saved by His grace, we enjoy His saving work in our lives, we enter the saving ministry of sharing our faith with others and the gospel of God’s saving grace.
- It means that we LOVE the Lord our God above all else in humble obedience to the greatest commandments as we practice that love in serving the Lord by serving others.
Hope, Faith and Love are expressed by Seeking, Saving and Serving! God’s mission for us finds fulfillment when we know who we are in Him and follow His will.
In the months of April and May we will be looking more deeply into this connection between hope, faith and love & seeking, saving and serving. We will be listening to God’s voice through the scriptures about hope, faith and love. As we hear God’s word, may we be seeking His will, receiving His saving work and sharing it, and serving in His name. That way we can expect hope, faith and love to grow stronger and be expressed more fully to God’s glory and our good.