Commissions

TC Verbum No 15 Apr 2009

By Bob Moffitt
bmoffitt@harvestfoundation.org

Our Target: God's Glory

Bob Moffitt, PhD – President, Harvest Foundation, Co-Founder Disciple Nations Alliance

Countless Christians around the world come to faith with the expectation that the gospel should result in transformation of individuals and communities. Most, though, do not see the transformation they expect. Recently, while speaking with indigenous Indian church leaders in south-eastern Brazil, I attempted to illustrate why this is. I blindfolded a marksman from the audience and armed him with a bow and arrow, then asked him to aim at and hit a target on the wall. After some wide-eyed gasping when their compatriot mistakenly aimed at them, those in the audience pointed out the obvious: if he couldn't see the target, it was unlikely he could hit it.

Sadly, the Christian church often acts as a blindfolded marksman. When we mistake the target to be the salvation of individuals, we fall short of our expectations and God's desires. Instead, when we understand God's ultimate purpose to be revealing his glory, we are empowered to ‘hit’ his purpose.

Setting our sights on God's glory rather than on individual salvation is the metaphorical equivalent of removing our blindfold: we turn our aim from the audience to the target on the wall. With God's glory in mind, we will, in an attempt to reflect that glory, obey his teaching and do his will. And once individuals and communities start doing that, God will bring about a transformation that exceeds their wildest expectations. Let me explain.

The Target—God's Glory: Scripture as a whole reveals that God's ultimate purpose is to make known his glory (Dt. 4:5-8; 1 Pet 2:9-12). God's concern for his glory is driven by the very self-giving, circular nature of that glory. By living in a way that manifests his glory, we become God's glory (2 Cor 3:18), and in that glory we fulfil God's purpose.

In his salvation and transformation of his creation, God intends to restore the reflection of his glory. God desires that his people live in a way that other nations would see his glory and be drawn to him (Dt. 4:5-8), and we are chosen and redeemed ‘for the praise of his glory’ (Ephesians 1:13-14). In other words, when we live the way God asks, we glorify God, reflecting his glory and fulfilling his ultimate purpose.

Right Target, Right Methods—Obedience: Once we understand God's glory to be our goal, the necessity of obedience becomes clear: we can only reflect his glory by living, by his power, how he asks. This mandate for obedience is reflected quite clearly in the Great Commission. We evangelicals have typically focused on going, making disciples, baptizing, and teaching, but our teaching has all too often centred on teaching what Jesus taught. The Great Commission, though, commands us to teach obedience as well as knowledge. Teaching followers to obey is the final but essential step of Jesus' command to us. It is the means to reaching the true target of God's glory. Unless we teach the means to reaching the target, the glory that God created us to reflect will be greatly diminished.

Transformation—God's Response to Obedience: How does all this relate to transformation? Quite simply, God's promise to bring transformation is conditional. ‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land’ (2 Chron 7:14). God conditions his supernatural healing/transformation on repentance of disobedience followed by obedience. When God's people obey, he supernaturally intervenes in their realities, often using their intelligence, money, manpower, and other resources to bring his healing.

Conclusion: God's people have repented and are thus forgiven. If we would also do his will - a lifestyle of loving our neighbours by demonstrating that love through sacrificial service - he can transform our lives and communities beyond anything we could ask or imagine. Surely this calls for an outpouring of passion to heal brokenness, of suffering for others, and of generosity toward those we don't know - all borne of having our sights set on God's glory and our strength drawn from it.

For more information: www.disciplenations.org and www.harvestfoundation.org

Verbum: Welcome to Verbum—a page of thoughtful comment and insight giving perspectives and overviews of topical issues. It appears in both our print and electronic versions. Reproduction and wider circulation is encouraged. Please acknowledge as "Verbum: WEA Theological News On-Line Apr 2009" Contributions from readers of ideas and articles (700 words max.) are warmly welcomed.