The Lord has been preparing me to preach today by reminding me, in a variety of ways, about how different the Christ-life is than the life of what we in this sin-filled world might call "normal." Satan has tricked human beings into thinking of ourselves as the chance products of evolution, and as such, to live lives focused on "self." But that has never been our real purpose. I'm actually not much of a Bible scholar, but I do know that God created people to rule the earth and its creatures, to "subdue" and have dominion for others, not for self. As Jesus said, those who are great will be servants. That's who we are, servants who rule the earth for the good of all, not just for ourselves.
When I look out at the world through the eyes of someone who lives in a little town called Cokato I see many people who are living their original purpose, at least in part. One way you can see this, I think, is at the time of death, when the family members of who have lived for others seem to be mobbed with well-wishers. But many, on the other hand, who actually are living the new life, not living for themselves, are not well known. Some are pretty much forgotten in this life. But that doesn't really matter. They get their applause from God.
Through what Jesus has done on the Cross, God resets our purpose for living. We don't live anymore just for ourselves. We don't live anymore just for our family or for those who love us back. Instead Jesus tells us this "I will give you the keys of the kingdom."
Those words were spoken first of all to Peter, one of the original 12 disciples, the one who first came to know the truth about Jesus, that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the Living God." When we come to know Jesus, he gives us those keys too. Keys not only to our own home, but the keys to the huge, tremendous, unspeakably glorious kingdom of God. The Bible in Matthew 16 speaks of keys that "bind" and "loose." Like we were originally given authority over the earth, so God gives us authority once again to hold back the powers of darkness and to release or "let loose" the power of God.
When we forgive, when we love in Jesus' name, when we pray and do not give up, when we are generous beyond our family and friends--that's how we use those keys. We say "NO" to despair and hopelessness. We say "YES" to an open future with God.
That's our purpose as God's people. I'll be sharing this in a message soon, first at the Cokato Manor (9:15 a.m.), then at Crossroads (10:15 a.m.). Part of the message will be an update on one of our young missionaries, Andria Jasper. You can learn more about her at Walking the Path.