Job’s story gives us a glimpse behind the scenes of the great controversy as it plays out in our lives. The man was simply living his holy life when the devil randomly, it would seem, picks on him. The first two chapters of the book of Job draw back the curtain, showing clearly that Job’s experience of hardship is tied to a larger metanarrative involving the entire universe. A metanarrative in which God’s character is on the line.
Clearly, not everything bad that happens to us falls within the paradigm of Job’s experience. Sometimes bad things result from our own poor decisions (dare I say, most times?). But in Job’s life we see the principle that how believers live has ramifications in the universal question of whether God is trustworthy. The way we handle trials and temptations casts a vote either for or against the trustworthiness of God. So this controversy really isn’t about you—it’s about Him!
But let’s flip the coin for a minute and look at the great controversy from God’s perspective.
Sin enters the universe through a process summarized by the Bible as a mystery. The omnipotent Creator God could simply wipe out His creation and just start from scratch, but that’s not the God He is. Instead, He chooses to risk His own life to redeem His fallen creatures. So unfolds human history as it is revealed in Scripture: the story of God’s fight to restore communion between Him and His creation.
You see, from God’s perspective, this is all about you. Think about Jesus’ mission statement as articulated in His name: He came to save His people from their sins. It does not say that He came to vindicate His character before the universe. Even though His life actually did reveal something about His character, His purpose in coming was actually focused on us, not on Himself.
A common thread runs through these two perspectives of the great controversy. From the human perspective, this controversy is not about us, it’s about vindicating God’s character; from the divine perspective, it’s about reconciling the world to Himself.Whichever angle you look at it from, it’s not about yourself; it’s about someone else.
God’s life is others-focused. As His children, so should our lives be. Thus, even when facing temptation, our motivation to live victoriously ought to come from a desire to honor God (and not, for example, from fear of losing our good reputation). My college major, my choice of employment, who to marry, when to marry, how many children to have, where to live, what to eat, what to do for recreation…All of life’s decisions should be motivated by a desire to honor God!
The focus on living for others is a principle that governs the actions of all those on the winning side of this great controversy. So it’s not about you. The moment it becomes about you, you’ve crossed over to the losing side.
“This one thing I do.” Success in any line demands a (more…)
There is a group of, by some estimates, over 60 million people who need the Gospel, yet are evangelistically neglected. They are among the most difficult to reach, and “traditional” methods tend not to work well with this group. Ellen White describes the situation:
We talk and write much of the neglected poor; should not some attention be given also to the neglected rich? Many look upon this class as hopeless…Thousands of wealthy men have gone to their graves unwarned because they have been judged by appearance and passed by as hopeless subjects. But, indifferent as they may appear, I have been shown that most of this class are soul-burdened. There are thousands of rich men who are starving for spiritual food. Many in official life feel their need of something which they have not. Few among them go to church, for they feel that they receive no benefit. The teaching they hear does not touch the soul. Shall we make no personal effort in their behalf? (6T 78.3)
At GYC 2013, I presented a seminar entitled “Witnessing to the Wealthy, Worldly, and Well-Educated (W3s),” based on my experiences sharing Christ with MBAs, PhDs, JDs, and other highly successful professionals by engaging in spiritual conversations on a daily basis, some of which turned into personal Bible studies.
I was surprised and gratified by the groundswell of interest that people had in witnessing to this neglected group. It seemed that many of us have W3s in our lives, yet find it very difficult and even intimidating to talk with them about spiritual things.
In response to this need, a small group of us started the Nicodemus Society. We are a fellowship of committed Seventh-day Adventists who have a heart for reaching the W3s in our lives. We take our inspiration from Christ’s example of conversing with and ministering to Nicodemus, “a ruler of the Jews” and member of the Sanhedrin, who first came to Him by night.
Like W3s in our modern society, Nicodemus felt a need for what Jesus had, but was initially ashamed to approach him openly. Yet, Jesus ministered to him personally, and Nicodemus ultimately boldly came forward to bear the expenses of His burial and became a pillar of the early church, exerting his considerable means and influence to help spread the Gospel.
We are just getting started. Our intent is to build a community of SDAs who share this passion, and develop resources, programs, and opportunities to fellowship, learn, and become equipped to be powerful soul winners in the W3 community.
If you also have a heart for winning the Wealthy, Worldly, and Well-Educated, sign up for email updates at our website, visit our booth at GYC this year, and pray for God’s blessing and leading as we develop this ministry.
Nicodemus started out coming to Jesus in secret, but was transformed into a leader of the early church. It is our prayer that we would see this transformation in our own lives, and in the lives of the W3s around us.
Idea: A simple thing prevents victory; a simple solution brings it.
Who is Jesus?
This is the Man regarding whom James Allan Francis comments, (more…)