By Ronald Bartanen
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Many live their lives in hopeless frustration. Life for such seems to be without purpose and hope. One’s days become filled with futility and the sense of meaninglessness in life. As Paul penned the above scripture to the Roman Christians, he is assuring them of God’s hand in their lives as they, with him, were sharing in “the sufferings of this present time” (v. 18). He is assuring them that in spite of the grossly unpleasant circumstances that may encompass their lives, they were not forsaken of God. In fact, he assures them that as they continue to love God He is able to use “all things,” including their sufferings, for their good, namely, the fulfilling of God’s purpose in their lives.
God’s call to any individual is not without purpose for that person. When God called Moses to service, it was for the deliverance of God’s people, Israel, from their bondage in Egypt. When God called Israel’s prophets, it was that they be God’s inspired spokesmen, calling His people to repentance. When Jesus first called His disciples, saying, “follow me,” He gave them the vision of becoming “fishers of men” as they sought souls for Jesus’ kingdom (Matthew 4:19).
While today the call of Jesus may not appear as spectacular and personal as these examples, it is just as real. That call was spoken of by Paul in writing the church in Thessalonica: “”He called you by our gospel to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:14). Jesus’ plea, “follow me” is an invitation through the gospel message of the crucified and risen Savior, and Paul declares its purpose is that we share in Christ’s glory. It is as Paul reminded Timothy concerning Christ, “Who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace…” (2 Tim. 1:9).
Wherever the gospel of Christ is proclaimed, and men and women respond with commitment of faith, you will find Christians, members of the Lord’s body, the church—a people with a purpose. Those who answer to His call find significant changes taking place in heart and life. Sin no longer reigns as the master of one’s life, for Jesus has been enthroned. From the waters of baptism these rise to walk in “newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4), freed from sin, and, now, “servants of righteousness” (v. 17). Life, for such, now takes on purpose and hope.
- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://arthurcoc.com/