We live in an ego-centric society, which has saturated our churches and our faith. We have been programmed to think about ourselves. Most patterns in our lives are somehow tied to serving “me and my needs,” “my family,” or “my country.” Think about how much of our giving is tied to that which benefits us? Would we tithe as much if it were not tax-deductible? Would we give more to a building program (from which our kids will benefit) or a poverty program in Indonesia (which benefits me in no way)?
Along this ego-centric thought, I often hear people say, “God wants good for me.” “Okay, sure, absolutely. I can agree.” Here’s the rub. What is “good?” That’s where I believe we differ. I don’t believe God’s perspective of “good” is the same as ours. God’s “good” does not necessitate health here on earth. God’s “good” does not necessitate a lack of birth defects, financial blessing, intelligence, godly spouse, etc. While we may be blessed to experience some of these things, God’s “goodness” does not necessitate it.
God’s “good” is not specific to the individual as much as it is tied to that which benefits the corporate body. God’s “good” is about conforming us to the image of Christ. That is our greatest good. Our greatest good is that which most glorifies God and promotes worship of his holy name among the nations. God’s greatest good for us is leveraging our lives for the purpose of redemption. Yes, that is right, leveraging our lives. We are the servants, he is the master. Sometimes “good” is nailing you to the cross for the good of others in God’s redemptive kingdom plan.
God’s “good” is not centered around me or you, it is centered around his kingdom work and the means by which we can be most useful in promoting the establishment of that kingdom. Certainly, 1 Peter 3:17 hints at that, “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” There are times that God’s will is for us to suffer for righteousness’ sake so that we can be used for the good of his glory and his kingdom. But what about that famous passage that is often quoted, Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today?” Within that context, we must remember that God did not hesitate to orphan Joseph, at least for a season, sell him into slavery, have him falsely accused, and have him imprisoned in order to help redeem God’s people.
In other words, God is focused on you, yes, but he does so within the grand scope of his redemptive plan for his people. It is about you, as you are a part of a greater body, and God’s securing of that body, even if that means bruising a toe to save the leg. Believer in Jesus, may God deliver us from our “me-centered” lives and help us see that he is orchestrating a tapestry of redemption, and it is our privileged to be used in any way he sees fit. If that means being faithful in a bad marriage as a witness to my spouse, my children, and the world, so be it. If that means risking it all to tell my family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers that Jesus loves them, so be it. If that means selling my home and moving to the mission field, so be it. If that means that I buy an Accord instead of a Lexis, or for most of us, I buy a used car instead of a new car, so that I can give the difference to those in need, so be it. If it means being a faithful witness while cancer ravishes my child’s body, so be it. If it means forgiving the drunk driver who killed my spouse in the car accident, so be it. If it means being faithful in the midst of great financial blessing as my stock portfolio goes through the roof, so be it.
In the end, my life is not my own. It belongs to the King. May we get our minds off of ourselves and our possessions and our families alone and surrender ourselves to God more fully. May we surrender our immediate comfort and happiness and pursue holiness saying, “God, use me as you see fit for your glory and the promotion of your kingdom among the nations.”