Last night I read a devotional by Oswald Chambers that put together succinctly so much of what I have been studying and meditating on the last few weeks. “Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished.'” (Luke 18:31)
Jerusalem stands in the life of Our Lord as the place where He reached the climax of His Father’s will. “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 6:38) That was the one dominating interest all through our Lord’s life, and the things He met with on the way, joy or sorrow, success or failure, never deterred Him from His purpose. “He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51)
As I mulled this over, I found an “aha” moment. We all have our own “Jerusalem”. The great thing to remember is that we go up to Jerusalem to fulfil God’s purpose, not our own. Naturally, our ambitions are our own (in the lives of the unredeemed); in the Christian life we [are supposed to] have no aim of our own.
There is so much said today about our decisions for Christ, our determination to be Christians, our decisions for this and that, but in the New Testament it is the aspect of God’s compelling that is brought out. Jesus said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” (John 15:16)
This next sentence literally stopped me in my tracks: “We are not taken up into conscious agreement with God’s purpose, we are taken up into God’s purpose without any consciousness at all.” This seems to be the very meaning of a Scripture I’ve had a difficulty understanding in my heart, but is important in the life of those who choose Christ as their Lord and Savior. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal 2:20)
We have no conception of what God is aiming at, and as we go on it gets more and more vague. God’s aim looks like it’s missing the mark because we are too short-sighted to see what He is aiming at. At the beginning of the Christian life we have our own ideas as to what God’s purpose is — “I am meant to go here or there”; “God has called me to do this special work”; and we go and do the thing, and still the big compelling of God remains. The work we do is of no account, it is so much scaffolding compared with the big compelling of God.
“He took the twelve aside”. God takes us aside all the time. We have not yet understood all there is to know of the compelling purpose of God, but we are to follow Him by faith. “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matt 16:24) We are to fulfill God’s purpose, not our own. So we step out in faith by abiding in Him. “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Ps 119:105)