Friday, February 15, 2008

The Purpose

I tend to be pretty lazy.  So when the going gets tough, I bow out.  The only thing that keeps me working at a difficult task is an understanding of the reason for it.  When there are heavy boxes that need to be moved, the first thing that pops into my head is, "Why can't they stay there?" If it works, let's not bother it.
When is comes to the tough things in life, I want a reason to keep at it.  And what's tougher than being like Christ?  Look at the standard.  My life is supposed to be the life of a perfect deity. Each person I encounter ought to be seen through God's eyes as deserving of love.  Each circumstance I face ought to be met with a calm confidence that God is in control.  Each decision I make ought to made in the light of God's perfect will.  That's a tall order for a fallen person.
So why should I do it?  Why should I respond to life's trials with joy and peace rather than lashing out at the source of discomfort? What is the point of changing from my old man to my new?  Is there a reason, or am I just doing it because I'm told to?  My lazy mind wants answers to these questions before I go through the work they require.
Surprisingly the answer is found in the Old Testament.  Actually the answer found throughout scripture, but Exodus provides one of the clearest statements of it.  God is the chief mover in Exodus.  He nudges Moses from his obscure, innocuous hiding place in the wilderness to a prominent, influential speaking platform before Pharaoh.  He hardens Pharaoh's heart in order to judge Egypt for their treatment of His people.  He opens the expanse of the Red Sea, dries the ground for the Israelite's passage, and crashes the waters home on top of the pursuing Egyptians.  He delivers His people from bondage and death.
Just after these events, Moses is visited by his father-in-law, Jethro.  When Jethro comes, Moses shares with him the dramatic story of Israel's deliverance.  Jethro doesn't praise Moses for his leadership ability, Aaron for his spokesmanship, or Israel for their faithfulness.  If anything, the stories Moses told demonstrated the woeful lack of those things.  Jethro recognizes the true reason all these events happened: "Now I know the Lord is greater than all the gods...He [is] above them all." God didn't do those things to put Moses or Aaron or the Israelites on the spot; He did it to put the focus on Him.
The deliverance of Israel has a parallel in our lives.  We were trapped in sin.  And God worked in mighty ways, offering us redemption and forgiveness, demonstrating his power of sin and death, saving us from Satan and ourselves.  He brought us out of our bondage and expects our lives to change in light of it for one reason: to focus the light on His amazing character.
It's not about how special or valuable I am.  I'm nothing.  I am broken.  I can't accomplish the purpose I was made for.  But that just it, don't you see?  Anybody can make a violin sound nice.  But it takes a master to take a violin from the junk heap--broken strings and all--and make it sound like a Stradivarius.  And the broken violin doesn't get the glory; the master playing does.  So let God play your broken life--so others can see His mastery.

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