This article will begin to lightly touch upon how our Father sometimes uses circumstances (and at other times specifically sets them up) to reveal His love, and the role of trials in reaching our destinies. God willing, we’ll complete these thoughts next month. Let’s begin.
The oracle (burden) of the word of the LORD to Israel through Malachi. “I have loved you,” says the LORD. but you say, “How have You loved us?” (Malachi 1:1-2a)
God’s love is often disbelieved. One reason is that there is enough evidence in this world to cause one to doubt His devotion. (Psalm 22:1) We are not living in paradise. This cosmos is a very troubled place; situations militate against every person. Everyone has trouble in this troubled world. In the midst of trials, questions are asked, conclusions are drawn. For example: “Why did He not prevent…? Why has He allowed….? He must not be love. He must not love me. He’s not good.”
Still, this sentence stands: “I have loved you.” The reason He said this to Israel was to reveal this reality against the backdrop of their disobedience, disappointment and disbelief. God has always provided Himself with a background against which He might reveal Himself to humanity.
Someone who has a sane view of the world grasps the basic fundamental realities of his environment. Now, consider this: a delusional person can generally walk down a hall to get his lunch. Many people are very capable of functioning in this world-system, but don’t see it for what it is. The world system does not know God. It’s crazy.
To the degree we share the world’s insane perspective we will not recognize His love for us. The Scriptures say, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” (1 John 3:1) When we see things from a worldly perspective, not only will we not understand our circumstances, we won’t even comprehend our own identities.
Describing the world, John wrote, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:16,17) The apostolic judgment is this: all that composes the structures of this world system is motivated towards vanity. The pursuit of passing comfort, transient vainglory, the desire to uphold structures which provide an illusion of security, these passions motivate people. This includes that which has the appearance of moral excellence.
God composed this cosmos so we might know Him and enjoy life. In the beginning, God constructed creation that we might flourish. He created a context in which we might understand Him in His glory as an omnipotent Creator, as a caring Father, as a wise and creative Friend. Adam was called to cultivate the Garden, but Eden was the place God chose to cultivate His relationship with Adam.
After the fall, working within the limitations of humanity’s sinful choices, God prepared the stage for the entrance of the pre-incarnate Son. It was against the backdrop of darkness that the Light of the World was able to shine. This Light searched for us and sought out the darkness of human hearts – He shines in that darkness.
Perhaps you are in the midst of a righteous pattern of life. You are experiencing and advancing righteousness, shalom and joy in both your sowing and reaping. (Romans 14:17) It is like the Garden of Eden. Or, maybe you are working within the results of rebellious choices. (Hosea 8:7) It is as if your life can be represented by Israel’s captivity to Rome, and apostasy. It makes no difference; your God is working behind the scenes to reveal His love to you.
It is actually pretty shocking that we live in a cosmos whose god is adverse to the Creator. But that is the witness of the Scriptures. Paul called the devil, “the god of this world.” According to John, the cosmos is in the control of the evil one. Look how strongly these men phrased this truth:
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)
We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (1 John 5:19)
Although the world is bound in unbelief and insane in its infidelity, God is not bound. (Psalm 115) He Who Made Us is working within the world, just-as-it-is, to bring humanity to Himself. This can be seen in what the Messiah did at Calvary. Within the cosmos, just-as-it-is, Father loved us so much that He gave His Son to redeem us. This redemption took place within a fallen, darkened, age. Indeed, it was never darker.
Right now, the Lord Jesus is working to change this world from within.
And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom … (Matthew 13:37-38a)
The Messiah is sowing the children of the Kingdom into every ethnic group. These seeds are to follow the example of their Lord. They are to fall into the ground (where they are sown), die (live a life of Calvary love) and then bear much fruit (make disciples). (John 12:23,24) This means, you!
Where has He sown you?
God has destined you to advance the Kingdom within your spheres of influence. You are called to increasingly experience and release the influence of the coming age. You are deliberately sown by the Son of Man within the human structures and circumstances in which you find yourself. There are many promises which illustrate God’s loving desire to exalt you. Here’s a primary one:
… all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time… (1 Peter 5:5b-6)
This inviolate principle reveals that it is God’s loving purpose to give prominence to His people when the time is right. You are called to receive His love and embrace humility that you might display glory. Those schooled in humility are able to maintain the attitude necessary to sustain exaltation. God desires to lift you up. He loves you that much. It is the Father’s delight to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32)
In the name of the Messiah Jesus, Father, open our eyes that we might see the set-up. You have sown us in the field of this world. It is Your desire that we should experience and demonstrate Your Kingdom. Thank You for working in this world, just-as-it-is, to reveal Your love for us and through us. We receive Your love with gladness. Amen.