If Success is simply actively depending on God to live His life in and through us, on His terms, what are we here for? What is our purpose? What are we doing here on earth?
This Is Life Eternal — To Know Christ!
Our purpose, our job now is to know God on His terms and in His timing. Though this may sound simplistic, we often struggle with that very simplicity; man loves to make complex what God has made simple. By making “knowing God” harder than it is, we often rob God of the opportunity to reveal Himself. Knowing God is His idea! So it is His responsibility to make Himself real to each one of us. He teaches us, and we learn — to live and move and have our being in Him.
What Does Knowing God Look Like?
Success, knowing God, will outwardly look different for each of us at different times. Since we already completely and perfectly know God in our spirit, it is only in our soul (mind, will and emotions) and in our body that the learning to know Him is taking place. This learning is three-fold: 1) learning how to go to Him to get healed (soulically and physically), 2) learning how He exposes our flesh, so He can consume it, and 3) learning to rest in and enjoy our present relationship with Him. Every circumstance in our lives contributes to these three activities.
Our purpose now is not to “do” these three things, but to depend on God to do them in and through us. God’s timeframe is totally different than ours; depending on God will require His working His patience in us. Being successful at practical Christianity will bring contentment in all things, even in the midst of turmoil and tension. In fact, it will often look like the opposite of what it is because of the misbeliefs, wounds and flesh that are being brought to the surface and exposed to His Loving Truth. For example, learning to live in His peace may appear as great turmoil to others as our control in that area is challenged and stripped. Change is hard for us and on us, but the Lord will prove His trustworthiness and lovingkindness as we allow Him to work in and through us. How and when we are changed is His responsibility.
If Change is God’s Responsibility, Is There Anything WE Do?
Well, yes and no. We can learn to actively rest; like an injured patient undergoing surgery, it is imperative we lie still on the operating table. So imperative, in fact, that during surgery our bodies are anesthetized to keep them from reacting to the pain. But when undergoing soulical surgery, we are fully aware of everything that is going on around us. The best we can do is be still and learn to know Him. To get to that state of rest, God will teach us how to truly repent, renew our minds and submit our beliefs, until we believe what He says about us. We will then trust Him because we have experienced His love for us, not because of the strength or nature of our beliefs.
Only Spirit can live the Christian life — our purpose now is to let Him live that life through us without our interference. His life in us becomes our reality. We become blind to our surroundings and our own desires, and deaf to the cries of the needs within and the needy without, to the point that all we know is what He tells us, and only respond to His will, joyfully and with His power and authority.
This will require turning a deaf ear, and shutting our eyes to what we have learned about God and how we fit into what He is doing. What God says to us and about us is the truth, not what we’ve learned from our pastor, parents, our “selves,” etc. Our thinking, feeling and choosing all need to be reconciled, brought into alignment, with the Truth — what God says is true. Just because you believe something is true doesn’t make it true. Test it! Is it bringing you into dependence on God alone or on that something else? A fact is anything someone can get you to believe. We must let go of everything we think we know; that which is Truth will remain. What is from God will stand up to all scrutiny. We must learn to trust the Lord to lead us into all truth more than we fear the world, the flesh and the devil to lead us into deception.
What Hinders Our Purpose Now?
Misconceptions About Who We Are, Who God Is and What He Is Doing Hinder Our Purpose Now
Do you know why you believe what you believe? Beliefs are caught, not taught, and we are often not aware that much of what we believe contradicts something else we believe (this is one reason there are so many versions of the Bible and an ever-growing number of denominations). God wants us to know His ways, how He does things, how He feels about us, and how He works on our behalf. Taking another’s explanation for this hinders God from revealing the truth to us directly.
For example, there’s a popular saying in Christian circles that goes; “We’re not human doings, we’re human beings.” Well, neither is true. We’re not human doings, or human beings, but spirit beings, with the nature of our Father. But it’s a quotable quote, and easy to remember. The more times we hear it, the more “factual” it becomes — the more it rings true. But God wants to make our true identity real to us: “I am a spirit, I have a soul and I live in a body.”
Knowing Ourselves According To Our Temperament Hinders Our Purpose Now
We often live according to the belief that our temperament is who or what we are. For instance, someone who has a strong intellect may believe that their value to God (and to themselves and to others as well) is measured in terms of doing something with their intellect. Likewise someone who is compassionate and caring toward people may believe that God gave them those qualities in order to minister to people. But our temperament, the way God put our soul together, is not the basis upon which He evaluates us. In fact, most often our temperament, because of our misbeliefs, is our greatest hindrance because it provides a means to excuse the flesh. Our goal for freedom is not so that our temperament can be free, but so that He can be free, unhindered by our temperament. Before our soul (our temperament) can be fully available for the Lord to flow through, it must become unencumbered by the flesh.
Not Understanding How God Uses Circumstances Hinders Our Purpose Now
If your watch stopped, yet you still went by it because you didn’t know it had stopped, you would be believing a lie, you just wouldn’t know it. You’d start showing up late for things, and that’s how you’d find out your watch had stopped, that you were believing a lie. Likewise, God often allows things to go wrong in our lives, to reveal that what we are believing is a lie. If we don’t understand this, and then learn to listen for His voice, to see His hand in every circumstance of our lives, we miss out on learning to know Him in the practical areas of our lives.
Our Flesh Hinders Our Purpose Now
Flesh is getting our God-given needs met outside of dependence on God alone. If we don’t understand what our personal flesh patterns are, and how flesh develops, it will continue to develop and interfere with the learning process. Before our nature was exchanged at the cross, the only resource we had available to get our needs met was the flesh, also called our “self” and the “self-life.” Flesh perpetuates our misconceptions, especially telling us that if we really give in to God, bad things will happen. Though we may know differently, we’ll often feel that it might be true. So we often unwittingly allow the flesh to continue as head honcho, until God sets it up to fail. As we begin to understand our new nature, and that all of our needs are met already, we will cooperate with God as He consumes our flesh.
Wanting To Maintain Control Hinders Our Purpose Now
The goal of flesh is to control, so as God brings healing into our lives, and we begin to enter into His rest and freedom, we more and more find ourselves giving up control to God. We all find it hard to change, however, because change means having to deal with something new. So flesh comes along and gives us a reason to resist change, or to want to control how we are changed. This is normal, though the Lord will deal with this in His time as well. Over time, the initiative and motivation for our lives is transferred from us to Him, and we learn to accept change on a daily basis because we are stable and secure in our relationship with Him. We know He loves us, values us, accepts and approves of us now, regardless of where we are on the learning path. So any changes He makes can be, if not understood, at least endured.
Unhealed Wounds Hinder Our Purpose Now
Unhealed wounds are places in our soul where our needs have not been met in the past, so that we are now believing a lie. We can receive wounds both before we become believers and even after, if we don’t depend on God to meet our needs in a particular area. The most common wound is rejection. We are all rejected on a regular basis and will continue to be while we are here on this earth. So the issue is not how to prevent rejection, how to prevent being wounded, but how to go to the Father to get healed, as Jesus Himself learned to do.
Misunderstanding the dynamics of the wounding process will divert us into one of two tracks: 1) we will become distracted by our woundedness, putting all our energy into getting ourselves healed and avoiding being rejected again, or 2) denying that we have been or are being wounded, we will either stuff the hurt and rejection or hide behind activity so that we don’t have to deal with the hurt or be vulnerable to additional rejection.
In the wild, many animals will hide their injuries, knowing that a wound is perceived as a weakness or vulnerability, and makes them a target for predators. This phenomena seems to be quite an accurate description of Christianity as well; we’re afraid to express our hurt or need for help, having been previously rejected for having a need, told that it’s all in our head and to get over it, or told to stop thinking about ourself and just get busy. Or we’re afraid we won’t be helped at all, but sent home to deal with it on our own, which we have no idea how to do, or we wouldn’t have asked for help in the first place.
Thankfully, God’s purpose in our lives is to bring healing, and He never gives up.
The Enemy Hinders Our Purpose Now
We are vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy where we have unhealed wounds and are therefore walking after the flesh in that area. Where we believe a lie, the enemy has a legal right to interfere in our lives.
Overcoming the enemy does not mean we will stop being vulnerable to temptation. Being tempted does not mean anything — Jesus was in all ways tempted as we are. It’s when we ascribe meaning to that temptation that we enter deception. Even after Jesus persevered through 40 days of fasting and temptation in the wilderness, even after Jesus triumphed over him, did Satan just give up? Hardly. The same will happen to us. In the spiritual realm Satan and his buddies have no influence or position. In the supernatural/soulical realm, they continue to fulfill God’s purpose in our lives by provoking our flesh, showing us where we have wounds so they can be healed. Then his involvement in our lives gives us an opportunity to learn to rule and reign in this lifetime spiritually, soulically and naturally, over the already-conquered one. The lion who seeks to devour our souls is only released from his cage so that we can learn how to battle him.
So, how then does the enemy hinder our purpose now? The enemy comes at us from two perspectives: either he will draw attention to himself and his purposes, distracting us from the real issue, which is God dealing with us to bring us healing, or he drives attention away from himself, to keep from being exposed and dealt with according to God’s will in that situation. But he can be overcome in God’s timing, and according to His purposes for our lives. So the enemy hinders us from our dependence on God only when we let him distract us or if we ignore him and let him set up camp. (This is not to say that Satan and his pals don’t have power — they surely do. But the source of that power to deceive and destroy can be easily quenched by going to the root of his involvement in our lives and dealing with that. This removes the enemy’s claim on us and with a word from the Lord he must flee.)
The World System Hinders Our Purpose Now
Some of the elements of the World System include time, death, decay, peer pressure, success, busy-ness, circumstances, status, physical needs, social structure/class structure and over-commitment. There is a power in the world system that comes from the primary curse. There is also a wisdom of this world; the children of this world are wiser than the children of the Kingdom. They know that all they have is what they can get. But this is not true for us saints. We are challenged to “be not conformed” to the demands of this world, to be different, separate from those who have no hope, who are without internal or eternal resources.
We are learning to resist the peer pressure, the pull to maintain the status quo that is so prevalent in this present age. How easy it is to settle for less — we compare ourselves with those who are close to us or those in leadership positions, and by doing so subtly affirm their lives or teachings as our standards. But God values us now “as is,” and expects us to value ourselves on the same basis. It doesn’t depend on what we have accomplished in the past or what we may accomplish in the future, but on what He says is true.
As citizens of the kingdom, we walk in this world, though we do not use its resources to get our needs met, but bring to this world the riches of His Kingdom — life, victory and freedom. We minister to the world because we have received from outside of it, and can therefore act and give independent of its influences. The spirit of this world with all its information, sensory bombardment and what is falsely called knowledge pollutes our minds and batters our emotions to distract us from this focus. We spend most of our lives trying to make life easier for ourselves, but Jesus said in this world we WILL have tribulation.
C.S. Lewis wrote; “Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be.” If you’ve taken a wrong turn, going forward does not get you any closer to your goal. If you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-face. In that case, the one who turns back soonest is the most progressive. Either way you’re in the desert, be it with others or by yourself. In which direction are you going to go?
Not Knowing How To Know God Hinders Our Purpose Now
Man, in his intellectual arrogance, loves to make complex what God has made simple. And knowing God is simple; it isn’t easy, but it’s simple. Knowing God is what we are made for; or more accurately, what we are re-made for. It is only when we continue to try to know Him on our terms, continue to do things our way, that we come to the conclusion that the “heavens are as brass,” that God isn’t there or isn’t listening to me, that I’m not hearing from Him, or that I’m kept from hearing from Him, cuz’ I really don’t want to hear what He has to say to me… after all, He’s a Holy God, and I’m just a sinner saved by grace.
But God’s purpose for us now is to be in a knowing, experiential relationship with Him, and He will not let anything stand in His way. Yet if we don’t know how to know Him, we are easily distracted and deceived into settling for less than His best. First, settle it that, Yes, you do want to know Him . . . but we need our senses tuned to recognize Him, and the flesh or self doesn’t want to die! So there will be some changes that we will be actively involved in — initiated, worked into and completed by God — in order for us to truly know Him the way He wants to be known.
Intimacy with God is a pure gift — it cannot be earned or maintained by obedience or anything else, for that matter. It was given to us at the Resurrection 2000 years ago. Now we know Him from two perspectives; 1) we take the initiative in knowing God by waiting for Him; and 2) we become increasingly aware and responsive toward God as He approaches us. He is always talking to us, revealing Himself to us. We just need to have our senses tuned to Him and then not settle for what others have experienced or say is “knowing” Him.
Religion Hinders Our Purpose Now
Our preconceived religious beliefs are some of our greatest hindrances. Generally speaking we “catch” our doctrines, our beliefs from what we hear and what we read, not necessarily from what the Lord Himself has revealed to us. So part of the process of bringing us into relationship with Him is that He brings to the surface the sources and foundations of what we believe, often by putting us into situations where those beliefs are tested. Since none of us has all the truth, at least some of what each of us believes is a lie. We need to be willing to change our mind, to submit what we believe to scrutiny, realizing that what is Truth will stand up under inspection. It is not faith in what we believe that is important, but faith in the living Person of Jesus Himself.
Religion also hampers our fulfillment of our purpose now through those we have placed in authority over us. We often subtly believe that making our leaders happy also makes God happy. Well, first, God is not depending on us or anyone else to make Him happy. Second, our relationship with God is between Him and us and no one else. This gives God and us the only authority over that relationship, and everything that springs from it. If you want to get along with God, stay out of His chair — and don’t let anyone else sit in it either! Don’t let others establish standards for pleasing God, or give in to others’ expectations of service or conditions of salvation. God is a jealous God, so don’t give others the authority over your spiritual life and walk that God has reserved for Himself.
Religion is diametrically opposed to the freedom that Jesus purchased for us 2000 years ago. The object of appropriate doctrinal teaching is not knowing, but coming freely and unencumbered — “as is.” The truth we learn is to bring us to Him, and until we commit ourselves to the implication of that truth, we haven’t learned, even if we pass every so-called test. The true test is whether we come. This is why we often find ourselves dealing with the same issues in our lives over and over again, because we hear and know but we don’t respond, and come.
Religion will try to be like Jesus, “What Would Jesus Do,” when in reality only Jesus can do, through us, what Jesus does. Trying to be like Jesus is acting, and acting is still acting, not being, no matter how good it looks. As we learn to depend on God we are free to “be” who we are, confident that the “doing” will line up over time with that reality.
Dependence Overcomes Hindrances
So from our perspective, there are some definite hindrances that keep us from fulfilling God’s purpose in our lives. In all the above instances, we generally get bogged down trying to battle these hindrances ourselves. And it is here that we usually spend most of our time. But God will not let us overcome these in our own strength. Remember, though, that God loves us and has everything under control, and is working out every circumstance in our lives to bring us into the fulfillment of these purposes. As we learn to cooperate with Him, giving Him the time and attention necessary, we begin to believe the truth — what He says about us — and begin to truly walk and live in the freely dependent relationship He desires for us.
Adapted from Practical Christianity by Dianne Thomas