Because of his keen observations of how God works in
nature, scientist and educator George Washington Carver probably had as
much insight into life as he had knowledge of plants. He once commented
on the fact that people often assume, when they can’t see anything
growing above the ground, that nothing is happening beneath it.
I’ve often made that mistake in my own life and in the way
I’ve assessed situations regarding other people. Because of the many
challenges facing our world and the church today, we may be tempted to
think that positive change is a long way off; but that may not be true
for the body of Christ or for its individual members.
Those outside the church who are longing to see Jesus may
also be tempted to think that nothing is going on among God’s people
because they don’t see much happening on the “surface.” They, like
believers and unbelievers everywhere, are desperate for a revelation of
the true, living God.
I believe that for their sake God wants to raise the
profile of the kingdom. This will require that believers become more
conscious of the role we play in displaying His glory through our lives.
In her book Placed in His Glory (Charisma House), Fuchsia
Pickett states that one aspect of God’s glory is His moral beauty and
perfection of character that is beyond our natural comprehension. I
believe God desires for His church to not only see a revelation of His
glory but also be a revelation of His glory. He wants to reveal Himself
in our midst so that we can then reveal Him to the world.
Chosen by God
Isaiah the prophet told the Israelites that although they
were to recall the miracle of their escape from Egypt by the hand of the
Lord, they were not to see themselves as they had been before they were
delivered—forsaken and enslaved. He wrote: “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” (Is. 43:18-19,
NIV). Israel’s deliverance marked a transition for them, and they had to
acknowledge the fact that they had a new identity; they were the people
God related to Israel in an unusual manner. He called them
“My chosen, the people I formed for Myself that they may proclaim My
praise” (vv. 20-21).
As believers we also are a distinct people from all the
other peoples of the earth. Our uniqueness is based on the fact that we
are a part of Christ’s church, His body.
Interestingly enough, Peter’s words in the New Testament
nearly echo those of Isaiah’s. He wrote that we are “a chosen people, a
royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that [we]
may declare the praises of Him who called [us] out of darkness into His
wonderful light” (1 Pet. 2:9).
Peter continues: “Once you were not a people, but now you
are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have
received mercy” (v. 10).
Just as Israel was told to recall what God had done but
move on from there, so we are told to come to a new place of
understanding that we are not now who we once were.
We can remember the facts of our prior existence—indeed we
should remember. But we must focus the better part of our energies on
acknowledging our new identity as God’s people, recipients of His grace
and mercy, who honor Him with our praises.
We are no longer alone, bereft of a loving Father to
provide for us. We have a new identity, a new family, a new purpose, a
new inheritance and a new expectation.
We are chosen, royal, priestly, holy and able to make
declarations of praise to God and about Him. As Abraham’s spiritual
descendants and heirs of the promises given to him, we are formed by God
for Himself just as the natural descendants of Abraham were.
Isaiah said that a people God formed for Himself would
“proclaim His praise.” According to Strong’s Concordance, that means “to
boast on Him.” Peter said that the people who belong to the Lord will
declare His praises.
To “declare” means “to publish; to make known by praising
or proclaiming, to celebrate” (Strong’s). God’s praises are “His virtue,
moral excellence, perfection and goodness of action” (Spiros Zodhiates,
The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament).
Those outside the family of faith should be able to
observe the grace and glory of God resting on us. And they will notice
if we walk as people of virtue, moral excellence and exemplary character
who boast about our God.
But how is this played out in real life—yours and mine?
Knowing our individual weaknesses, our tragedies and triumphs, how do we
become who God says we are? How do we “clothe [ourselves] with the Lord
Jesus Christ” (Rom. 13:14)?
The apostle Paul addressed the Galatians as “My dear
children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is
formed in you” (Gal. 4:19). In the original language, the word for
“formed,” morphoo, is used here to “[express] the necessity of a change
in character and conduct to correspond with inward spiritual condition,
so that there may be moral conformity to Christ” (Strong’s).