We looked at some of the ways in which God works this morning, trying to discern His ways and means in our world. We saw that God works primarily through love because He is love. (1 John 4:8) Motives are hugely important to God; why we do things is as important as what we do and 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 makes it very plain that love is more important than tongues, prophecy or even miracles. Love motivated God to give His Son for our salvation (John 3:16) and therefore anything we do cannot be motivated by selfishness or self-interest, because this is not God’s way.
Many of the ways that God works seem contradictory to us or confusing because they are not the way the world works. The world is all about personal achievement: getting on in life, putting yourself first, being determined and getting ahead, ‘looking after number one.’ God works in ways that seem paradoxical to us: ‘whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.’ (Mark 8:35) “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45) The path to greatness, Jesus taught, comes through service and self-denial, a message embodied by Jesus. (Phil 2:1-11)
The paradox of the gospel is clearly explained for us in 1 Cor 1:18-25. Only as we embrace God’s foolishness and weakness can we begin to live as He wants us to; we must walk in humility and servanthood if we are to imitate God. God’s ways will always be personal, never forcing His will on us, but always inviting us into relationship and partnership with Him. This will require a constant transformation of how we think and act, a renewing of our minds, a willingness to embrace what may well look crazy to us. That’s what faith is all about – embracing God on His terms, not ours.