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The Goal

• Greg Boyd

This sermon addresses how God uses the suffering we face in this world to form us so that we might know Christ and his glory. While the sufferings we face are not orchestrated by God, God meets us in these situations and provides us with the opportunity to meet Christ in the midst so that we might be transformed into his likeness.

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God is on inside of our suffering, and somehow we can enter into a knowledge of what he suffered through what we experience. We all suffer, but the worst part is feeling like no one understands. We can trust that Jesus does. In Christ, God experienced humanity in all of its weakness to redeem us, and to demonstrate the truth that God understands the depths of our plight. We have to learn how to surrender our suffering and pain to him, rather than wallowing in it. As Paul wrote, “We know that in everything God works for good (synergēo) with those who love him, and are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).

In everything, God is working with us as we bring our energy alongside God’s, so that  God can now work on the inside of our pain for the good. One of the good things that God wants to bring out of your suffering situation is that he wants to use this suffering to further conform you to the image of Jesus Christ. Paul goes on to say in the next verse, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family” (Rom and 8:29). Paul is saying that, if we  work with God in the midst of whatever situation we find ourselves in, it is predestined that we will be conformed to radiant image of Jesus Christ. We will shine with the glory of God!

From the beginning God created humans for the purpose of being in “his image.” The ultimate purpose of everything is the development of image-of-God bearers who reflect God’s others-oriented loving character in all their interactions with others, human and non-human.

Paul also writes: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God…” (Romans 8:18-19).  The creation waits “in eager longing” for the children of God to be revealed. When the children of God acquire the same character as their heavenly Father, they will finally be rightly related to God, to themselves, and to the earth and the animal kingdom. Everything is waiting for the humans to be restored and transformed.

As we read in the focus scripture above, we are children of God. We are this now, even though we don’t fully realize it. And we don’t yet know what it will look like in the future. But we do know that when he is revealed, we shall see him as is because we shall be like him. At the very end, the love of God will have burned away everything about every one of us that is inconsistent with his loving character and because of this we will know him as he is.

As we move toward this end, we play a role in bringing this about. Paul holds himself up as an example to illustrate this in: Philippians 3:7-14:

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ.  More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ,[e] the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul considered all of his successes that brought him status as a loss and rubbish. It was worthless in comparison to the surpassing excellence of knowing Jesus.  He wanted this so badly, he considered everything rubbish compared to this goal. This is all that matters and all that endures beyond this world.

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Topics: Hope, Pain & Suffering, Transformation

Sermon Series: The Center of Hope

Downloads & Resources

Audio File
Study guide
Group Study Guide
The MuseCast: August 15

Focus Scripture:

  • I John 3:1-3

    See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he[a] is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

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