Christ, Our Fellowship, Part 17
Are you “getting it”? I bet you are because if you’ve been reading this series or started with the last one called, Christ, Our Righteousness, it’s not really that difficult to come to the understanding that while gaining salvation is extremely important, it’s the first step. Too many Christians (myself included) stop at this point or flounder trying to understand what God wants us to do after that. The truth is that He wants us to fellowship with Him. This is why He made us in the first place.
The Westminster Catechism points out this concept clearly.
Man’s chief end is to glorify God (a), and to enjoy him for ever (b).
For the first part of the above phrase, the following Scriptures are used:
Ps. 86:9; Isa. 60:21; Rom. 11:36; I Cor. 6:20; 10:31; Rev. 4:11
For the second part of the above phrase, these Scriptures are used:
Ps. 16:5-11; 144:15; Isa. 12:2; Luke 2:10; Phil. 4:4; Rev. 21:3-4
In truth, we know that God did not have to make human beings. In fact, He didn’t have to make anything, but chose to do so. I find it fascinating that prior to the fall, the Bible tells us that God walked in the cool of the Garden and it is clear that His purpose then was to enjoy fellowship with Adam and Eve (Genesis 2 & 3). The more we get to know God and understand His purposes, love, sovereignty, and more, the greater we will have opportunity to bring glory to Him (the first part of the phrase above).
If we do not even begin to understand who God is, we can never bring Him glory because we will not know what He wants from us. Too often, we think in terms of doing for God (which is certainly part of the picture), but in reality, God wants us to fellowship with Him, which is often more than simply doing things or checking our “to do” list. There are times when you do things in your own life. I’m sure, like many of you, there is a “to do” list that keeps track of the jobs we need to take care of around the house. As we go through the various items, we cross them off our list. We’re always adding to it as well because new items always need to be added to it. However, there are also times when you just sit around and do nothing except enjoy your family and friends, right? You’re not working all the time. We work, we play, we relax and simply enjoy one another’s company.
When Moses met with God on the mountain, there was certainly a “to do” list of sorts and part of that included giving the Ten Commandments. Other parts included providing all the parameters for the building of the tabernacle, which eventually became the Temple under Solomon. Still other areas included all aspects of the Law, including the ceremonial aspects of the Law that dealt with daily living in Israel. But Moses also simply enjoyed God’s presence and who wouldn’t? It was through this “face-to-face” that Moses began to learn about and got to know the Pre-incarnate Jesus. It was based on these experiences with Jesus that Moses grew in knowledge of the Lord, how He wanted things done, and how He expected Moses to live before Him.
We glorify Him because we have begun to understand the things God wants us to know about Him. Those individuals who remain outside the sphere of salvation do not intentionally bring Him glory because their thoughts and motives are generated by self and directed to glorify self. Still, He will be glorified in all things.
As we’ve stated throughout our two current series, only by receiving salvation does our legal standing before God change from unrighteous to righteous. This is the very beginning of what should become our daily walk with God. From the point where we receive salvation to the end of our lives, we should grow in our knowledge of God and as we do, we learn to enjoy Him.
If we compare this to human relationships, it’s actually very similar, with the very clear understanding that we never gain any sort of “salvation” from our association with other human beings, regardless of how good or beneficial those relationships might be. However, on a very basic level, when we get to know someone else, we begin to learn more about them. As we get to know them and our feelings and/or commitment to them grows, we should naturally find ourselves doing things that make them happy. This happens because of our growing appreciation and even love for that other person.
Today, I was at the store picking up a few things that both my wife and I needed. While there, I saw some light bulbs that my wife needed for one of her gadgets so I bought them. Just a few feet away in the same row there was one of those wearable flashlights. It wasn’t on my list, but I recalled that the one my wife had used for her cross-stitching had died. I had tried new batteries but that didn’t work. A new one was needed. So now, even though the item wasn’t on my shopping list, I bought it because I knew my wife needed a new one and buying one would make my wife happy. It would offer proof of my love for her in remembering that I knew she needed a new one. When I got home, I gave it to her without a big deal and she warmly received it. I could have left it at the store but because I love my wife, I want to do the things that make her happy as she does plenty of things that make me happy.
If we do these things with people in our lives, shouldn’t we also do the things for God that make Him pleased with our efforts? It seems though that too often, we Christians only do things when we are emotionally motivated to do something and if the emotion isn’t there, we either don’t do what we should or we question our commitment to God. There is this danger that we tend to place our relationship with God in the ethereal realm to the point that there is nothing normal about our relationship with God in Christ. We have to have these huge emotional peaks and when we don’t, we think something is wrong. It’s because we’re chasing after emotion, not God.
When I come home or my wife returns home, I’m not so filled with emotional ecstasy that it overwhelms me. I am very glad that my wife is home, but I don’t break down into tears. Why is it we do this with God? As I look back over my life, I can see where I have expected this type of “relationship” with God on many occasions and when I didn’t experience it, I “knew” that something was wrong. Yet, I do not have these expectations in other human relationships in my life.
Ultimately, our salvation gains us the privilege of fellowship with God in Christ. Jesus is God, but He is also a human being! When God walked in the cool of the Garden in Genesis to meet and talk with Adam and Eve, God did so in human form, what is known as pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus. I believe He also did this with Abraham, Moses, and others throughout the Bible.
But even though, through our salvation that we enjoy as a free gift from God through faith, we have potential fellowship with God, it is not automatic. We need to avail ourselves of this fellowship just like we need to take the time to “fellowship” with any other human being in our life, especially our spouse. It comes to us as we work at “getting to know” God and this is mainly done through His Word.
We’ll talk more about this next time.
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