Grow up, get an education, get a good job, start a family. That’s where you’ll find happiness, you’re told.
Or maybe you’re a non-conformist and you need to blaze your own trail; find things out for yourself. Through discovery and thinking for yourself, you believe you’ll find peace and meaning.
Maybe these are familiar paths for you – perhaps you’re on one of them right now. In walking on them you might even have tasted a degree of happiness and peace. Have you ever wondered though, why that feeling is so fleeting, why in moments of solitude and quietness you’re full of unrest, discontent, and ungratefulness? Surely there has to be a way to hang onto that peace; to emerge from the various trials and situations of life with your joy strengthened instead of sapped.
Is there an answer?
Man has long struggled to answer questions like these, to understand our purpose and passage here on earth. We love to understand, to grasp the world we live in. We understand that we are born and that we die, that much is obvious. It’s what happens in between that we need help with. What we need is faith!
I don’t like that word, you think to yourself, it’s so vague. If there are answers to life and secrets to true happiness and rest, they would be written down somewhere; they would be shared throughout the whole world. This may come as a shock to lots of people, but they are! God gave us His truths through His Word, and in them are all the answers to live an overwhelmingly happy and purposeful life. And not only that, but the promise to share an everlasting eternity together in heaven with the Father and the Son.
I’m a Christian, you think, I’m forgiven, I read the Bible and I still suffer from despair, anger, and unrest. Yes, that may be, but have you ever read the Bible like a little child with a wide open heart? Not through the voice of a Sunday morning sermon, but with faith and expectation that what you are reading has the ability to transform your life – to deliver you from a life of emptiness to one of meaning and purpose.
Whoever believes in Him
Let’s open to a favorite scriptural reference for pastors, John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Yup, heard it before; God loves us so much He sent His Son down from heaven to die for us and if I now believe in Him my sins are forgiven for eternity, got it. Through your own indifference and shallowness, you can miss out on secrets that have been before you your whole life. Let’s read again, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” In slowing down and meditating on this verse, a few things now jump out. That God loved mankind so much and wanted to help them so badly He sent His onlySon – not His second or third son – His only Son to earth to take on our condition, to become a man. And secondly, that if I in my situations here on earth choose to believe that, I won’t perish, but I’ll share eternity together with Him. Now faith is starting to stir, not just for an eternity with Him, as amazing as that sounds, but also a lifetime where I won’t “perish,” but instead be renewed.
This provokes me – a love so great that He was willing to die for me. This stirs me up to ask myself, if the condition for this promise is to believe, what does that then actually mean, “to believe?”
There are a lot of “believers,” as it were, people who don’t have trouble believing that Jesus once walked on earth and was among us and died for our sins. It would be pretty sad, though, if that was the condition for the promises, just to acknowledge that. Why then do you still struggle with your daily life?
Before the flicker of faith that was ignited by John dies out with our human reasoning and doubt, let’s turn to one more passage, in Matthew 7:21, “not everyone who says to Me Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of the Father in heaven.” Therein lies the revelation, the game changer. To believe means to carry out God’s will, not just to proclaim His name.
A new creation!
Impossible, you say, I’ve tried “being good” before, being a “better person.” Throw that all out the window, get rid of your human thoughts and reasoning! It shouldn’t be too hard if you seriously think about how far they’ve gotten you and what they’ve brought you. We’re not talking about becoming a slightly better person. God’s word calls those who have faith to follow in Jesus’ footsteps a totally “new creation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) That’s the possibility you have, a totally new being! Stop limiting the power of God with your doubt and human understanding! The reason this way is still a mystery to almost the whole world is that very few people are willing to fulfill the condition: to do God’s will and be obedient to Him.
If you’re self-satisfied with where your life is at and the person you are, then I’m surprised you’ve even read this far – this way isn’t for you. But if you suffer under the burden of your sin, how others suffer because of your actions, and how you can’t find true rest and fulfillment, then let this faith into your heart: “By believing God’s word and doing it in my life I can walk as Jesus walked and come to the same outcome.”
As you start on this way, you’ll begin to have a great mystery revealed to you – that it was your own lusts and desires that made you unhappy and bound you, which is why so few people know the answer. They have never stepped out in faith on this way of denying those lusts and choosing God’s will instead, and so they’ll never know. I’ve told you a little about it here through God’s grace, but it’s only by doing it in your own life that your questions will truly be answered and you’ll find rest for your soul and purpose for your days as God starts to reveal His will in your life.
What I’ve written about here is my faith and my purpose – to walk as Jesus walked in obedience to the Father. Do I have my own will and desires that get in the way? Absolutely! But through the power of prayer and believing God’s Word as it’s written I’m given power to crush these selfish binding powers in my life and manifest the virtues of Christ. This is truly a life worth living and I’ll use my days on earth to prepare myself for an eternity that I will be worthy of.