Jesus people, loving people

Where we are on the map

When you use a sat nav, if you enter inaccurate information or if it’s out of date, you could get lost. Your life is a journey, a pilgrimage to the heavenly city, and as we travel this journey we need to make sure our maps are synced with heaven.

God has given us a few key ways to make sure we stay on track in following His purposes in our lives:

  • The bible, the living word of God. Perhaps we can think of this as a paper roadmap.
  • Praying for God to guide us. This is more like a satnav’s “turn left” or “turn right” voice (Acts 16:6-10).
  • The counsel of trustworthy christians. We have an amazing faith-heritage that can help guide us into truth.

Of course these should never contradict each other. If they ever do seem to do so, either we’ve misread the paper map, we’ve lost GPS signal or we’re not listening to trustworthy travellers.

It’s important that we learn to engage with the bible and hear what God’s saying to us through it.

To work out where we are on the map we can start at the macrolevel. To find our place in history in the purposes of God, there are four stages:

  1. Innocent humanity: before the fall
  2. Fallen humanity: still being called to be a holy people
  3. Redeemed humanity: after the cross and resurrection
  4. Glorified humanity: united with God and creation on the new earth

We are in stage 3. So, our past is that Jesus has defeated sin and death then risen and ascended. Our present reality is that Jesus has charged us with loving, proclaiming the kingdom and making disciples. As for our future, we live in hopeful, confident anticipation of Jesus’ second coming and the renewal of all things.

Bearing this in mind, Peter wrote to believers dispersed throughout Turkey. Their lives had been totally disrupted but Peter encouraged them by reminding them of where they were in God’s grand story:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials
1 Peter 1:3-6

The life, death and resurrection of Jesus was an amazingly pivotal point in history, in fact arguably the crux of all history. Barriers were broken and sin cancelled out. Death and sickness were broken, and everything that can separate us from God was removed. This has already happened and we’ll probably never finish exploring the extent of what Jesus accomplished on the cross.

As for now, can you say you’ve been born again? If so, Peter is saying ‘live in it’:

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God
1 Peter 1:22-23

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct
1 Peter 1:13-15

Peter uses the words ‘already’ and ‘not yet’ throughout his letter. Our inheritance is ‘not yet’ but while we face “various trials” “for a little while” we must rejoice, expecting to receive our great inheritance in God very soon.

Our fuel for living a godly life is thankfulness for what God has done and hope for what He will do.

Looking back into history, God’s love has been made visible through Jesus. Now that love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit and as we look closely at the map He’s given us we can look forward with an uncontainable excitement.

Let’s love one another as he has loved us, and let’s stick the course.

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
1 John 3:16

Published 22nd March 2019

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