As I have come to a greater understanding of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians I have come to realize that man’s part and place in God’s creation is more about God than it is us. When I consider the book of Job, and the biblical references to Satan and his conflict with God, I begin to see that God’s plan of salvation does not revolve around us; it revolves around God. To me, this is a sobering and humbling realization. Our concept of the Bible, salvation, Christianity, the church, and religion should not be man centered, but God centered.
Paul makes it clear that we should be mindful of our part in a larger spiritual conflict between God and Satan and the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:10-20). But is our existence about more than some spiritual conflict in the heavenly places? Are we only pawns in some epic spiritual battle, or are we more to God than that?
Throughout the scriptures we are described as God’s children. In Ephesians 5:1, Paul encourages us to be “imitators of God as dear children.” As Paul reasoned with the philosophers at Athens in Acts 17:29, he stated that we are God’s offspring.
We often wonder why God created us. Why are we here? What is life all about? I have heard many say, and have said myself, “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13). I don’t buy it. I do not believe that the only reason God made us was so that He would have someone to respect Him and do what he says. That’s like saying the only reason my dad had me was to change the channels on the television set! (Which, in the days before remote controls, I often thought was the case.)
No, there is more to God’s creation of us than that. When confronted with the question of why God made us, the best answer I can offer is, for the same reason that we have children. I understand that there are exceptions to what I am about to say, but for the most part we have children to have someone to love and to be loved by. We have children to share our lives with and to be a part of their lives.
Consider the fact that God not only made us, but made us in His image. He also created a perfect environment for us to live, and before Adam and Eve sinned God had a close relationship with them. It was only after they chose to depart from God’s will that their fellowship was broken. Yet, God immediately set in motion His plan to draw them back to Himself (Gen. 3:15).
By the time we get to Genesis chapter six we read that God is sorry that He made mankind. He is sorry because they have completely corrupted themselves in the earth. This is no different than a parent being sorry that they ever had a child that had so completely turned away from them and destroyed themselves. The sorrow is because of the love and the realization of what could have been. This is God’s love for His children.
The ultimate evidence of God’s love and desire to have a relationship with us is expressed in Jesus. Far from being a trite saying mouthed by those who do not realize its full significance, John 3:16 is a stunning declaration of God’s love for us. When we read, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” He is saying that He loves you so much that He was willing to come and find you, and then die for you, just to give you the opportunity to come home. Not the certainty that you would, but the opportunity for you to do so. No matter how much we have grieved him, no matter how far we have gone from him, and no matter how much we have rebelled and rejected Him, He leaves the door to home open for us.
This is the love and desire of God that is so clearly portrayed in the parable of the lost son in Luke 15. It is the picture of a father longing for the return of his wayward son. When he sees him from a great distance coming home he runs to him and embraces him. I can imagine the tears of joy and relief in the phrase, “and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” I can easily see the father continually looking to that far country and yearning one day to see his son returning. If we would only consider how emotional and heartrending this story is we could never doubt God’s great love for us and His desire for us to be with Him.
Hosea speaks of this father-child relationship in Hosea 11:1-11. Listen to the phrases God uses:
“When Israel was a child I loved him.” – vs. 1
“I taught Ephraim to walk, Taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them.” – vs. 3-4
“How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim? My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred.” – vs. 8
When we turn away from God like a child from a mother or father it causes great pain and distress to Him. He says that His heart churns within Him. I am bewildered when I hear others say that we cannot hurt God or cause Him pain. To make such a statement denies the love that God has for us. You are not just some pawn in the spiritual conflict in the heavenly places. You are the beloved child of God. He is looking for you and longing for you to be with Him.