A vital part of being transformed in our heart to be more like Jesus is found in knowing God’s purposes. In short, there is a plan. It is also true that an initial determination to be Christ-like may not result in discovering God’s plan. There are side roads and cul-de-sacs the evil one has created to take us off course.
One of Satan’s most effective strategies is to have us accept some form of substitute Christianity. Substitutions often have a partial, though distorted representation of Jesus. Substitutions may do many good deeds and hold to various biblical positions; however, only Jesus’ church follows God’s purposes. God expects us to grow in our Christ-likeness to understand what Christianity truly means. This cannot be achieved apart from understanding God’s purposes for His people.
Ephesians 4:11-16 is very instructive at this point. In just a few verses, a broad overview is given of how Christianity is designed to work. Applied to our day, teachers are to equip Christians with the tools they need to build up the body of Christ. The completed New Testament is the source of this equipping and it informs us fully relative to a mature understanding of Christ and His will.
All Christians are charged with growing up individually and working together collectively. We are a body (I Cor. 12:12-27). Our identity is the identity of Jesus. We are to conduct the Father’s plan in the way of the Christ. In oneness and through love the church grows into a captivating, challenging body of believers (Jn. 13:34-35; 17:21-23). If we do not seek and employ God’s purposes, we will fall short of our Father’s expectations.
I was the kid in the neighborhood they looked for when a snake was found. The kids in the “hood” knew I would pick one up; all they had to do was do the finding. For whatever reason, I just picked them up. Fortunately, I got over that before one of them got me.
Looking back, I wonder, “What was I thinking”? I suppose a case could be made for my just not having any better sense. I did manage to do more than my share of less than smart things back in the day. I think, however, I have figured it out. The reason I grabbed the snakes up was because I didn’t really think there was anything to be afraid of.
In a spiritual sense, I think this curious fearlessness of mine can go two very different ways. First, we need to learn the things in life we truly need to fear. Scripture tells us some things are to be avoided at all costs (Matt. 5:29-30). Sin is not a game; it has a bite.
On the other hand, we must be courageous in living for Jesus (Jn. 16:33). Even death should not intimidate us when we stand for what is right (Matt. 10:28). A timid Christianity is no Christianity at all (II Tim. 1:7). The Serpent of old fears the day when God will crush him under our feet (Gen. 3:15; Rom. 16:20).
The Devil would back us off in fear. He will offer many ways for us to rationalize ourselves out of a courageous stand. At such times, the little children have it right, let us “run right over him!”