The Purpose Driven Life
THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE
WE GLORIFY GOD BY BECOMING LIKE CHRIST
From the beginning God said in Genesis 1:26, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” Only human beings are made in God’s image. Like God our spiritual being is immortal and will outlast our earthly bodies. We are intellectual, we can think and reason; like God we are relational, we can give and receive love; and we have a moral consciousness where we can discern right from wrong.
This makes us accountable to God. That is why murder and abortion are wrong. But the image has been damaged and now we have a sinful nature. So God sent Jesus on a mission to restore us. Colossians 1:15 says, “Christ is the image of the invisible God.” Now we will never become God, but we will have some small characteristics of God. Some religions and philosophies still believe in Satan’s lie that we can become God.
As creatures we will never be the Creator, but He wants us to become godly, taking on in some way His values, attitudes and character. God’s goal for your life on earth is not comfort or prestige, but character development. He wants you to grow spiritually to become more and more like Christ. This does not mean that you lose your personality. Becoming like Christ is all about transforming your character.
Christ wants us to develop the kind of character described Matthew 5:1-12 which we call the beatitudes of Jesus, and what Paul describes as the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, and what is called the chapter of love in 1 Corinthians 13 and what is described in 2 Peter 1:5-8 as the characteristics of an effective and productive life. Do not get frustrated by the circumstances in your life.
The promise of Jesus of the abundant life does not mean that you will have perfect health, constant happiness, dreams realized and instant relief from problems through faith and prayer. God does not exists to serve you in your selfish pursuit of personal fulfillment. Life is not about you. You exists for God’s purposes, not the other way around. God gives us time on earth to build our character for heaven.
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS WORKING IN YOU
2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” This process of changing us to be more like Jesus is called sanctification. You cannot do this on your own, only the Holy Spirit has the power to make the changes God wants to make in our lives.
Philippians 2:13 says, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.” The Holy Spirit is working in your life in ways you aren’t aware of and cannot feel. Colossians 1:27, “And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.” How does this happen? In the way we act and the choices we make, they become different.
Throughout the Bible we see an important truth illustrated again and again. The Holy Spirit shows His power the moment you take a step of faith. The floodwaters of the Jordan River receded only after Joshua and the leaders stepped into the rushing current. These ten lepers in Luke 17 were cleansed as soon as they went to show themselves to the priests, following what Jesus said. Obedience unlocks God’s power.
God wants you to act first. Move ahead in your weakness, doing the right thing in spite of your fears and feelings. This is how you cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and it is how your character develops. While effort has nothing to do with your salvation, it has much to do with your spiritual growth. Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Your character is essentially the sum of your habits. We need to put on the character of Christ by developing new godly habits. God uses his Word, people and circumstances to mold us. God’s word provides the truth we need to grow, God’s people provide the support we need, and circumstances provide the environment where we need to practice our Christlike habits and responses.
Some issues in life will never be changed by Bible study and prayer alone. God uses people. He works through people so that we will depend on each other for fellowship. He wants us to grow together. Spiritual maturity is not a solitary individual pursuit. You must be around other people and interact with them. Because true maturity is all about learning to love like Jesus. Remember it is all about loving God and loving others.
Becoming like Christ is a long process of slow growth. Spiritual maturity is a gradual, progressive development that will take the rest of your life, and even then it won’t be completed here on earth. It will only be finished when you get to heaven or when Jesus returns. 1 John 3:2 says, “It has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
God is interested in building your character. We worry when God seems silent on specific issues such as career and marriage. What God cares most about is that whatever you do, you do in a Christlike manner. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” God is far more interested in your character than in your career.
Philippians 2:12-13, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” There are two parts to spiritual growth: “work out” which is your responsibility, and “work in” which is God’s role. Spiritual growth is a collaborative effort between you and the Holy Spirit. So God’s Spirit works with us, not just in us.
This is written to help us how to grow. Spiritual growth begins with changing the way you think. To be like Christ you must develop the mind of Christ. This mental shift is called in the Bible repentance. You repent whenever you change the way you think by adopting how God thinks about you, about your sin, your future and everything else. Thinking like Jesus focuses on others and not yourself.
The Christian life is far more than convictions, it includes conduct and character. Our deeds must be consistent with our convictions, and our beliefs must be backed up with Christlike behavior. Christianity is not a religion, it is a personal relationship with God and with your fellow men and it is a lifestyle of thinking of others. This kind of thinking is unnatural, counter cultural and quite difficult.
Many believers have abandoned living for God’s purposes and settled for personal fulfillment and emotional stability. That is narcissism, not discipleship. Jesus did not die on the cross, so that we could live comfortable well-adjusted lives. He wants to make us like Himself before He takes us to heaven. This is our greatest privilege, our immediate responsibility and our ultimate destiny.