Applied To the Daily Life
Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world. – 1 John 4:17
If, then, I am as He is, how does it work out in practical life? It means a revolution in my outlook. Normally, I interpret all happenings of life in terms of their effect on myself. My physical condition, my home affairs, my business affairs, my social life—how do they affect me? What difference does this situation, this crisis, this tragedy or problem, this success, make to me? If I am a Christian, I may seek a Christian interpretation—this is for the testing of my faith, for the maturing of my walk with God: but still it is in terms of its effect on me. But we have already said that the way things affect God is the opposite: not their effect on Him, but on us. Jesus living our lives. So now with us.
The new outlook is: This has happened to me as some way by which I am to meet the need of others. As Paul says in that Second Letter to the Corinthians, in which he most fully shows what living other people’s lives means: “All things are for your sakes.” The fact is, and the change which has taken place in us is, that it is no longer a question of either my own life being for myself, or of God being for my convenience, or my salvation, or sustenance.
So I practice a changed outlook. My normal human reaction will always be: Why has this happened to me? But now I say: This is for others. I move over within from my outlook to God’s. I may not in the least see how it is for others. It may be merely that my going through a tough experience with God fits me to share and show the way to others going through the same without God. Paul said he was comforted in all kinds of afflictions, so that he could share the secret of that same comfort with others in like afflictions.
The point is the habit of always relating all things that happen to me to the meeting of some needs in others. It is the difference between frustration and opportunity. If I just see things as happening to me and I don’t know why, I am frustrated. I say, “If only things were different, if I hadn’t had that difficult past or this physical disability or family problem, I could be of some use,” then I am bogged down. But if I say, “God, you have sent this for some purpose, to minister somehow through me to some people in need,” then it is opportunity. Life is then always an adventure of faith, never dull, never repetitious, always with some meaning round the corner. Let us get it in its total dimension—life’s only meaning is God and others.
It helps us also to get it clear that everything that comes to us comes from God—what we call evil as well as the good. God, of course, is not the cause of evil, but deliberately directs everything for good ends. The Bible uses strong terms of “God sending” the unpleasant as well as the pleasant, and sending is a positive word, not just a passive permission (for many talk of the “permissive will” of God).
Peter in his first speech after Pentecost said that they had taken and crucified Jesus “through the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” No mistaking that. God determined that wicked men should do what they purposed to do and it would really fulfil His purpose—which was to save the people doing it! Such is God!
Joseph said that by his brethren selling him into slavery, God “sent me before you to preserve life…you thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good.” Whatever happens, we say, “All right, God, You sent this. It may tear me apart to say so, but I say so.” From there the next step is easier, “God, this has some purpose outside of me to meet the need of others. Just show me what.”
The important fact to recognize is that God has only one aim in His present dealings with our world—to get all of us who will respond to Him off the wrong road on to the right. It was said of Jesus “that the world through him might be saved.” It is a matter of eternal seriousness, for it concerns eternal destiny. It has to be through man to man. A savior must be where the people are who need to be saved. To save a drowning man, you get in the water beside him. So God became man to be the Savior.
To bring the given salvation to all people, God still has men. They are the saved who then become saviors; not, of course, saviors in the sense of the one Savior Jesus Christ who completed our salvation, but in the sense in which the Spirit of God is still doing His saving work by Christ’s spiritual body, which is we, as He did by His physical. In that sense we are co-saviors, co-redeemers. Indeed, Moses was bold and said he was going up Mount Sinai to “make an atonement” before God for the people, which he did. That means, then, that every situation we are in, God puts us in, and it has some saving purpose in it.