What is the ultimate purpose of a Christian? How can we define success as a Christian? How can we figure out what we are supposed to do and then do it with all our might? That is the most basic purpose for the existence of The Gospel For Planet Earth. And this is my conclusion:
If I give my life to missions, If I die in prison as a martyr, If I give all my possessions to the poor, But I do not have love, I am nothing. I have always wanted to be something and someone great. I don’t want to be average. John Wesley, Billy Graham, A.W. Tozer, C.S. Lewis, Mother Teresa, William Wilberforce, Brother Yun, Richard Wurmbrand, David Wilkerson, etc. are not average people, though they are imperfect like the rest of us. They are ordinary folk, yet somehow, extra-ordinary. But what makes the difference? These folks, (there could be MANY more names added to that list), also are people who have had serious flaws. Some of them were not the best parents and some were not the best spouses, and some were not the best friends. We read books about their lives and we admire them from a distance and we honor them and try to emulate them, but what parts should we emulate? I am convinced that some of the biggest heroes of the faith are forgotten by history or were never known by history. The ultimate Judge of greatness has a judgment scale that is more balanced than anything we have come up with. Nevertheless, we must know whether or not we are headed in the right direction. How can we know that we are training correctly, practicing correctly, and making strides in the right direction? And what I conclude is this: by gaining a better understanding of what exactly the Gospel is, we will know more truly how to evaluate our lives.
The Gospel is not a way of escape to a better after-life. The Gospel is an announcement that God has begun to right what went wrong in the world through His Son Jesus who has conquered death by going through death and out the other side into new creation. And by “new creation”, I mean that Jesus’ physical body was and is resurrected. Jesus didn’t go far away to a disembodied world but rather was resurrected so that His old body was given new life and was fundamentally altered by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus did not leave His body behind Him in the tomb. The dead body of Jesus was rescued and reanimated by the renewing power of God because of God’s love for Jesus and His good creation. Jesus has secured the future world for the earth by passing through death and then rising again to break its power. What God has done for Jesus’ body, He plans to do for the whole cosmos. This means that for us, success is not escaping the world and helping others to do the same. Rather, success for us is learning how to live in the new creation which God has already started on earth through Jesus’ resurrection, and He will complete it here on earth in the future. This means that we must learn how to begin to live in the future recreated earth now. We must anticipate the future by learning to be truly human in the present. Selfishness, pride, lust, anger, greed, etc. are all things that tear down our humanity and cause us to act destructively. We are called to leave all that behind and to be filled with the Spirit of Jesus who gave His life for us so that we might live. We are called to give our lives away in service to one another, not least our spouses and children. Ultimately, this will lead us to mission outside our family circles as well. Truly self-giving love cannot be contained to the immediate family unit, it must expand or die. And expand it will. Mission is a vital part of the successful Christian life and the Western Church must practice mission or die. But it also must recognize that the mission is to love and to be holy, beginning at home, or else all our work “out there” will be nullified by the brokenness at home. We are not in a race to rescue people from a bad afterlife. We are in a war to crush evil wherever it is found in all the earth, beginning at home. The ultimate prayer for the ultimate goal of the Christian then is this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name Thy kingdom come Thy will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Yes, Lord! Let your will be done in ALL the earth and in ALL of my life! Come quickly Lord Jesus!