Bible with Cross ShadowIt is ironic that the most obvious thing can be the very thing we get wrong. If someone were to say, “The story is about Him”, we would all nod our heads. Of course the story is about Him; it’s His story. But is that the way we live our lives here in the Western church?

No one would say, “The story is about me.” Right?

What about, “The story is about us?”

Now we are getting a little closer to the truth; I mean the truth about ourselves.  Think about it.

Why did we pray that first prayer? Why do we continue praying? Is it for God, or is it for us? Be honest with yourself. What is our motivation for reaching the lost, and serving those in need? Is it for Him, or is it for them? Who is it about?

I think you understand where I am going with this, but let me say it clearly: The church in the West has become self-centered. Consciously or subconsciously, with intent or not, we have come to think, believe and act like the story is about us. It is time we shook off this deception and began living like the story is about Him.

For Himself, His Glory and His Name

As a baseline, we must understand that the chosen of God are to be a people for Himself; and what He does with those people, He does for Himself.

For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. Deuteronomy 14:2

..that He may establish you today as a people for Himself, and that He may be God to you, just as He has spoken to you, and just as He has sworn to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Deuteronomy 29:13

“Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.” Isaiah 43:7

For My name’s sake I will defer My anger, And for My praise I will restrain it from you, So that I do not cut you off.” Isaiah 48:9

“But I acted for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned before the Gentiles among whom they were, in whose sight I had made Myself known to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt.” Ezekiel 20:8-9

“Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have dealt with you for My name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways nor according to your corrupt doings, O house of Israel,” says the Lord God. Ezekiel 20:44

It is interesting to note that God withheld His judgment against a rebellious nation; not because of His mercy, but for the honor of His name. Moses interceded with God for the children of Israel many times during their Wilderness journey. He never asked God to have mercy on them. He always reminded God that their destruction would reflect negatively on Him and His name. The same is true for the followers of Jesus Christ.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14

Jesus gave Himself for us! This is our wonderful hope and promise. But, let’s be careful to recognize that our redemption is secondary to His higher purpose: That He might have for Himself His own special people. It’s for Him; and it is about Him.

In His Name

Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. Matthew 18:5

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20

For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. Mark 9:41

If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. John 14:14

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. John 14:26

The name of the Lord Jesus Christ is powerful indeed! But what does it mean to receive, gather, give, ask and send in His name? Most of us close our prayers with, “In Jesus’ name.” What do we mean? Is His name some kind of magical phrase? Of course not! Then what? Come on, think!

Here’s a word picture that may help. Imagine you are an ambassador from one country to another. As such, you go in the name of the king of your homeland. You go with his agenda and instructions in mind. Your sole purpose is the purpose of your king. You dare not receive, gather, give, ask or send anything for yourself. All you do is done for your king. Your mission – the story of your life – is about him.

From the passages above, we see that there is benefit for those that live “in His name”. More importantly, we come to understand that our benefits are secondary – even subject – to His purposes and plans.

I hope that you have become curious about the purposes of His story; for they are the foundation of all He is doing in Heaven and on Earth. But before we go there, it is important to recognize that Jesus humbly subjected Himself to His Father’s will.

I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. John 5:30

The purposes of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are identical. The Father sent Jesus and the Holy Spirit to redeem and prepare a people for Himself – a holy and purified people to serve His ultimate purposes. Jesus sent us to do the same (John 20:21).

For His Purposes

At the beginning of God’s story, we find Him creating a place for a people; a people that would be for Himself. Then those people introduced a major detour into God’s story. We call it “The Fall”.

As a side note, I find it interesting how we minimize things by the descriptions we give them. “The Fall” was much more than a fall. It was nothing less than out right rebellion – mankind deciding that their story was more important than God’s.

God’s people lost much in their rebellion. That loss has become the primary focus of our religion – getting back what we lost. We ruminate and regret our own reduced state.

“Woe is me! I have to toil for my living.”

“Woe is me! I have to labor in childbirth.”

But, what about God!?!

Have you ever considered what God lost in the Garden of Eden? Shouldn’t we be concerned about His loss? As with anyone else we love, shouldn’t we be interested in Him getting it back? After all, He is the Master of the kingdom we call home – the place of our stewardship to the King. It just might be that Him getting back what belongs to Him is the best thing that could happen to us.

The purposes of God’s story are found in the restoration of what He lost in Mankind’s rebellion. To understand, we go to the end of the story (The Revelation of Jesus Christ). You see, the Bible may be the only book written that is not spoiled by reading the end of the story first. In fact, it is encouraging and edifying to know what God is after, because we know that He will get whatever it is.

It is in the last three chapters of the Revelation that we come to understand what God is up to in the remainder of His story: The complete restoration of what He lost in Mankind’s rebellion. Here’s the summary:

1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4

Oh, what a glorious day! It is the day we long for, when “all things are made new”. It is the grand finale of God’s great story (at least the part He has revealed). In John’s description of this great day, we find a tight synopsis of His restorative purpose. And it’s not verse four – as wonderful and well quoted as it has become.

The greatest purposes of God are found in verse three – the order reminding us that it is for Him before it is for us:

  1. “He will dwell with them” – It was always God’s intention to inhabit His people. Jesus spoke of its beginning, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (John 14:23) This is the spiritual reality of that which will be physically manifested in the New Jerusalem.
    God will restore the habitation He intends to have with His people.
  2. “They shall be His people” – We can only imagine the depths of intimacy God had with Adam and Eve in the Garden – and His loss in their rebellion. God sent Jesus to make a way for the restoration of His relationship with us. Jesus prayed the will of the Father back to Him in John 17:
        And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (v. 3).  … that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us (v. 21).


    God will fully restore the intimate relationship He intended to have with His children.

  3. “God Himself will be… their God” – The last great thing God lost in the Garden was His reign in the hearts of His people. Before they disobeyed God’s command regarding the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam and Eve determined that they were better suited to make decisions for themselves. They determined to be their own kings. They rebelled against God in a futile attempt to become like Him.
    God will fully restore His reign in the hearts of His subjects. 


The purposes of God will not be withheld from Him (Job 42:2). This we know is true. And now we know that His purposes for Himself are far above His purposes for His children. Furthermore, we know that our stories are much smaller by comparison; that we are simply blessed to be a small but significant part of His story.

Regrettably, there are people who have chosen, at their peril, to live their story outside of His. There are also those who desire to enter His story but have not found their way through the narrow gate (Luke 13:23-24). Those that know the way are commissioned to lead others fully into the kingdom of God.

This raises a number of serious questions. How well do you know His story? Have you been careful to subject your story to His? Is your focus on His agenda, or have you compromised His story with yours?


These questions are for both personal and corporate reflection and response. Jesus condemned the religious leaders for refusing to enter into the kingdom; and, worse, preventing others from entering (Matthew 23:13). Those whom God has raised up into positions of influence and authority will give an account of their stewardship (Matthew 25:14-30). May we be found faithful.


The most important thing about this exercise is spending time with God – asking Him questions that He is eager to answer. It is about fellowship with the One that has been orchestrating events to bring you (and those around you) into this understanding. There are no coincidences for God’s children; and He does not intend for His children to be blind to His purposes.

  • Review the Bible passages and their meaning. Share them with those in your spheres of influence. The truth will make them free.
  • Ask the Lord to show you how each portion of your story aligns with His ultimate purposes. Thank Him for His grace in these areas. Make note of the areas that are not aligned.
  • Seek His restoration in those areas that are not aligned. This will take time, so start now. Transformation is a process. Do not allow for discouragement. God is working in you to will and do to His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).

Recommended Reading

The following are some of my favorite books on this subject. Most can be found at your local Christian book store, or at one of the many online distributors.

Crazy Love; Francis Chan

Humility and Absolute Surrender; Andrew Murray (combined set)


Humbly yours and forever His,