God’s Greatest Work
To me, one of the more frightening movie scenes occurs in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, where the Orc army is assembling. They are being readied to march out to accomplish the evil lord’s purposes. The image of all those mean, beady-eyed creatures heading out to kill their enemies in cold blood makes my own blood turn cold.
When I hear people talk about God using us to accomplish his purposes, for some reason my mind turns to those Orcs, who are simply tools in the hands of their maker. They are expendable, relentless and mindless, not participants in any way except to do the bidding of their master, which is to kill as many of the good guys as possible so he can take over the world without getting his own hands dirty.
Are Christians simply God’s army, marching as to war, as depicted in the song, “Onward, Christian Soldiers”? Are we here solely to help him accomplish his purpose on earth? And what is God’s purpose, after all?
The obvious answer is to save mankind from their sins, which he can and did do all by himself, thank you very much. And of course, he does want us to participate in helping others see his goodness and acknowledge his grace by sharing the good news of the gospel. But his purposes go a bit deeper than that. He saved us when Jesus the Son went to the cross. When we accept that as a fact in our lives, he begins the process of sanctification through the leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit. And Jesus invites us to share in the relationship he has had with the Father and the Spirit from eternity.
Sharing in that relationship means we are not simply tools in his hands. We are not an army raised up merely to do battle and then go on to our reward. We aren’t expendable or mindless, although some might seem to be sometimes. No, we ourselves are God’s great purpose. The transformation of a carnal, greedy, self-centred human being is his most amazing work and it happens as we participate in his risen and ascended life.
When we see ourselves as only tools in God’s hands, I think we forget this. A tool is made for a specific purpose, is expendable and valued only as long as it fulfils its purpose. I’m sure God doesn’t see us that way. He sees us as his beloved children, whom he is transforming into the likeness of his Son, who is the radiance of his glory. He delights in us when we are worn out or broken or even when we can’t lift a finger. He doesn’t throw us out when we can no longer function and he doesn’t value us only if and when we are useful to him.
I’m not sure if the Orcs had names, but we certainly do and God knows each of his unique, marvellous children by name. A craftsman doesn’t name his tools and he replaces them when they are old. God cares for us as a mother cares for her babies, never using us but loving us and calling us his own.