Receiving the abundant life Jesus wants to give us rarely looks like we think it should. Often it means abandoning the life into which we have settled. One of my favorite quotes, in speaking about Mary the mother of Jesus, Craig Barnes writes, “God has interrupted our ordinary expectations, as cherished as they were, to conceive something. We can’t manage it. We can’t even understand it. All we can do is receive it. Because if God has conceived this thing, then it is holy, and it will save our lives.” The good news is knowing that the abundant life Jesus talked about has nothing to with us getting it “right” or that our circumstances be “right” we will fret less about them and focus our hearts on “God in us.” The abundant life has everything to do with the on-going, creative work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Here’s the deal…God, by his Spirit, is always up to something! The whole Bible is the story of God initiating, bursting into the lives of men and women…at work in their lives…Look at these verses:
Rom. 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose
Ephesians 1:11 – In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will
Philippians 2:13 – “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose ”
What is that good work? Scripture describes the end-result or goal of all this in Romans 8:29 – “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” (Emphasis mine)
Gal. 4:19 Paul describes the motivation behind his labors – “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” (Emphasis mine)
The great work of God in our lives is that we might become like Jesus…that the life of Christ might be fully formed in us that it might flow from us. Tomorrow we look at how he does this.