For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
In spite of every and all circumstances we might face, those who are called by the Lord to be, to go, and to do are compelled by His Word and Holy Spirit to complete our mission in this life as a key part of our eternal destiny. I often refer to Ephesians 2:10 when considering how to order and invest the rest of my earthly life.
As I have noted many times in the past, one of the greatest frustrations that people of faith must overcome concerns their inability to get past the various distractions in their everyday lives in order to focus their attention on who they really are “in Christ.”
That term in its various forms appears dozens of times in the New Testament, especially in the Pauline Epistles, and understanding its implication is vital to our spiritual growth. Essentially, it describes the relationship we enjoy when we put our whole being into His total care to the point where nothing else matters more than that.
Ephesians 2:10 helps me with my “spiritual geography.” When I am “in Christ” the whole reason for my very existence, my purpose, and my eternal destiny become clear. I am consequently empowered with supernatural confidence to fulfill the mission that awaited me before I was even conceived. God already had prepared in advance good works for me to do.
No, I was not saved by good works. Rather, I was saved to do good works. God has a reason for everything He does whether we fully understand it or not.
It is almost impossible for even the most mature believers to get their head around the fact that the Almighty knew us from the beginning of creation and that He has a glorious and fruitful destiny for all of us to enjoy if we are willing to intentionally seek and pursue it with peaceful desperation.
Of course, the cares of this life always seem to stand in the way of every Pilgrim’s progress. The little birds of worry and distress often grab up our seeds of faith before they can sprout. Yet, we are promised that if we prioritize God’s Kingdom first, all the stuff we worry about will take care of themselves. We have the Lord’s Word on that. (Matthew 6:33)
“Here am I, Lord, send me” (Isaiah 6:8) best expresses my own longing to fully discover and to take hold of the good works God prepared for me to do. However, I have to prepare myself before I can even get to that. I fully understand that His general will for all of us is to love Him with our whole being and to love others, (even the ones we don’t like) as much as we love ourselves. (Matthew 22:37ff)
That, in itself is a tall order. Actually, it is not even doable in the energy of our own human effort. It requires us to commit what I would call “egocide,” dying to ourselves so that Christ can be alive in us.
The Apostle Paul puts it like this: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Just imagine. Jesus, through His Holy Spirit, wants to live “in us.” He desires to be the source and motivation for everything we do. That thought, by itself, blows my mind and overwhelms my soul. Again, apart from the revelation and power of the Holy Spirit, living life where you are in Christ and He is in you is an impossible dream.
Thankfully, God meets us in our weakness with His love and power. The Scripture asserts that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. (2 Corinthians 5:19) The first step toward finding our destiny in God’s purposes is receiving the salvation and reconciliation that God provides to us “in Christ”.
That is perhaps the most basic concept in the New Testament. The problems that face mankind are self-inflicted. Our sin nature produces a self-centered perspective to life. That produces a counterproductive and self-destructive spiritual environment that crowds out any desire we might have to please God by doing His will.
It is no wonder that so many people fall prey to identity issues when they live life as if they had no divine destiny.
Jesus offers us a better alternative: “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”(Luke 9:24-25). At first glance that runs counter to our natural thinking and might actually sound a little bit harsh. However, Jesus tells it like it is, yet with hope for the “whosoevers” that take Him up on His promises.
In John 16:33 He states, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” In this world we are promised trouble. You can bank on that. We may not be “of the world,” but we are certainly “in the world.”
But Jesus is telling the good news even about that. “In Him” we have peace in spite of the troubles. In fact, the encouragement He leaves with us is that He has overcome the world and all its troubles. He invites us to do the same and to fulfill our divine destiny, even has He did.
To the degree that we are “in Christ” will be the measure of how we overcome our earthly distractions and problems, and to take hold of His Kingdom that cannot be shaken. Amen.
On a personal note, I would appreciate your prayers as I return to Mexico again this month to teach at another session of the International Bible Institute in Chiapas. I am always honored to be there among the pastors and church leaders who are being equipped to impart more effective ministry to their churches and communities. Shortly after returning home I will undergo much needed spinal fusion surgery. I want to be ready for my next assignment, but I will have some overcoming to do first.
God bless you.
[LeRoy Curtis is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Asbury Theological Seminary. He served four years as a U.S. Naval Officer after which he became a pastor, Bible professor, educator, author, and missionary living in E. Africa for eight years where he and his wife developed a curriculum of biblical studies for untrained pastors in rural Kenya. His passion for training young church leaders takes him to various parts of the U.S., Latin America, and Africa. He and Judy are currently residing in Carrollton, Georgia.]