Parents hope and pray that their teenagers will remain pure. A commitment to purity is crucial to every child of God. To resist the temptations of the world, we must trust implicitly that God is the only source for our every need. This trust level requires that we see God at work in every aspect of life. We find him there at every step. Our all-knowing Father is never surprised by the circumstances in which we find ourselves. Knowing this we begin to take life’s challenges in stride—his stride.
But purification is ongoing. Because the world is a battlefield between Satan and God, life is a battle between godliness and godlessness. Sanctification requires hand-to-hand combat with our sin. No doubt, God is our comforting Father throughout the daily battles. But he is also a strong Father who expects obedience. Being superficially religious won’t cut it, no matter how impressive we seem. He wants to purify us so we see him clearly in every moment of every day. If we’re going to join God on mission, it’s crucial to see clearly where he is at work. Purity, then, is a single-minded focus on seeing God and remaining untainted by the filth we see around us.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” – Matthew 5:9, NASB
When God fills his disciples with mercy and purity, inner peace moves in. Spiritually mature disciples who have found God’s calling for their lives possess that peace. The Jewish people bestow the hope of peace on others with the blessing shalom. Shalom is a one-word prayer for the restoration of the world to God’s design. A mature disciple possesses the personal peace of knowing God’s design and then partnering with him to restore that design to the world.
Peacemakers bring calm to a raging world. But they are not naïve. Soon after his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus sent his disciples out into the world. “Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves,” he told them in Matthew 10:16 (HCSB). Peacemaking requires remarkable inner strength. Every attitude Jesus has presented in the discipleship process to this point will be required of a peacemaker on mission. Peacemakers are spiritual adults capable of raising spiritual children in God’s family. They have died to self and experienced brokenness and mourning. The kingdom of heaven has become theirs by accepting Christ’s death in their place. They receive God’s comfort and become gentle in the experience. A peacemaker is filled every day by a right relationship with God. Mercy and purity grow out of a peacemaker’s life wherever they join God on mission.
A world at war with God cries out for peacemakers. God sends them on mission to birth people in Christ and raise them as disciples. They are acclaimed as sons of God, his grown children. Ah, the pinnacle of discipleship is attained. The mature disciple can now relax and enjoy the blessings, right? Wrong! Keep reading.
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:10–12, NASB
Just a short while after presenting the Beatitudes, Jesus prayed to his Father, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10, KJV). Ever since the fall of man into sin, God has chosen to suspend his perfect will on earth so we might have the privilege of choosing him. God’s perfect will is done in heaven, and he allows Satan to reign in hell. Earth is their battleground. The disciple lives on the battleground, and the world is at war. A disciple on mission must understand this truth.
The world hates godliness even as it hungers for God. Paul said to the citizens of Philippi, “Many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things” (Phil. 3:18–19, NIV). Earthly life is torn apart by this conflict.
Look at the modern media for proof. They exalt celebrities as gods of society, and we keep buying it. Then we tear those celebrities down at the first sign of human frailty, only to lift them up again when we crave more entertainment. During Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem the crowds shouted, “Hosanna,” as he arrived, then cried, “Crucify him,” five days later. As Christ-followers, the world will do that to us, too. The world yearns to possess what God has given us. But upon hearing what it will cost, they turn back to their pursuit of pleasure. Their lives are consumed with satisfying the lower instincts rather than lifting hearts and minds to God. The very ones who cry for our help turn against us.
When the world is against us, the Father’s love endures. The kingdom of heaven is ours. Hallelujah! The forces of evil may take every earthly thing we own. They may even come for our lives. But they cannot steal our Father’s ultimate gift. The souls of those who are in Christ will live forever with God. We are his children, and he is our Father. He has grown us to maturity, so now we move out with him to share the relationship with others. The discipleship process goes full circle! — Mark Powers