"What do you plan on doing?" is not one question, but many questions. We commonly ask that question of a graduate, or of someone moving, or of someone changing careers. It is the question we ask people in major transition. Commonly, a complete answer is much more complex than the simple response shared. Commonly, the verbal response gives an answer that vaguely relates to the real but unspoken reasons.
What are the hidden questions? They include, "What do you consider to be your life's purpose?" "Are you changing purposes for your life?" "Will you be using your life to achieve a purpose?" "Does this change focus on you? Or on your family? Or on considerations bigger than you or your family?" "Is this a spur-of-the-moment change, a planned change, or a necessary change?" "Does it consider only the moment, or does it consider your future?"
The purposes for a Christian's life are bigger than self, bigger than family, bigger than an earthly future, bigger than earnings, and bigger than possessions. The conflict between good and evil is older than the material creation. Evil transformed this world into a battle ground between God and Satan. Paul reminded Christians in Ephesus that prior to becoming Christians they were dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-3). At that time, "the course of this world," "the prince of the power of the air," and "the spirit that works in the sons of disobedience" determined how they used life. Only God's incredible mercy, love, and grace rescued them from their destructive self-indulgence and brought them to life (Ephesians 2:3-10). In that destructive indulgence they were separated from Christ, excluded from God's people, and not in a covenant with God. They lived without hope and without God (Ephesians 2:12).
Jesus Christ changed everything for them (Ephesians 2:13-22). He was their peace and reconciliation. He gave them access to God. He placed them in God's family. He made them citizens of God's kingdom. He made them a part of God's living temple.
The war between God and Satan [good and evil] was a reality they must not forget (Ephesians 6:10-18). The Christian struggle is not against people. It is against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places. That includes the rulers of those forces, the powers of those forces, and the earthly forces that support this darkness.
For many, the decision to become a Christian might be a simple, pragmatic decision. It might be as simple as accepting forgiveness and becoming spiritually alive in Jesus Christ. It might be as simple as declaring war on the evil in this person's life.
From the moment of spiritual birth [baptism], the Christian begins his or her journey toward spiritual maturity. That journey produces insight and understanding. He or she realizes, "I have chosen God's side in a massive war older than this world." Suddenly, resisting evil is about something much bigger than "me." It is about something much bigger than "my" life span, "my" comfort, "my" future, or "my" material security. Resisting evil is about the permanent, eternal triumph of God over evil. "My" motivation for resisting evil is found in "my" dedication to God's purposes. It is found in "my" desire to allow God to use "me" for His purposes.
Read 1 Peter 2:1-12.
Only the man or woman who surrenders to God as His servant will view self in this manner. Only this person will behave in this manner. Without complete surrender to God, a person will never "see" himself or herself as God's building material. Only with complete surrender to God will he or she define existence in terms of God's purposes. Only with the complete surrender of a servant will a person accept the challenges and responsibilities of godly behavior among ungodly people.
Why would anyone completely surrender to God? Having "tasted" the Lord's kindness, he or she wants to be nourished by that kindness. God's love expressed in Jesus' life, death, and resurrection offers something unique. God's love expresses something nothing else can express. What? Perfect forgiveness. Complete atonement. Unconditional reconciliation. Limitless mercy. Inexhaustible compassion. Kindness that exceeds human comprehension.
No person can ever do for self what God can do for him or her. No individual or group can do for a person what God can do for him or her. No individual or group can provide him or her what God can provide. For the person who discovers the power of God's love, surrender is a choice, not a necessity. He or she chooses the superior. He or she discovers surrender results in victory.
The road to certain defeat depends on self. The road to certain victory surrenders to God. The servant Jesus who was executed on a cross as a criminal is now enthroned as Lord and Christ.
Link to Teacher's Guide Quarter 3, Lesson 8
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