You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.Genesis 50:20
Our world started in a garden. Everything God created was perfect, and on its completion He said it was “very good”. Yet the book of Revelation makes it very clear that the new creation will be better than Eden – better than that initial perfection. How interesting, then, that at the heart of the heavenly worship, and in place of the temple in the new Jerusalem, we find the Lamb “looking as though it had been slain.” Because of his response to all of our human failure and sin, God is more gloriously revealed in the new creation – now he has shown the full depths of his redemptive and forgiving nature.
God’s love redeems. Think of the story of Joseph, quoted above: the story is set in motion by the brothers’ jealousy and greed, but God restores relationship and saves their entire family and the nation of Egypt from famine through it. Think also of the book of Hosea, in which the prophet lives out this redemptive love, buying Gomer back out of slavery despite her unfaithfulness to him. The message of the book, communicated through Hosea’s wife and children, is that God will take unfaithful humanity and give them beauty, freedom and love at his own cost.
How can we be imitators of God in this? We have friends who used to talk about “playing the Y-GAME”, which stood for “Your Good At My Expense”, and that’s an excellent place to start. If we are offended or upset by someone, if we disagree strongly with their opinions or actions – in short, in any situation in which we might be tempted to think poorly of someone – we can ask ourselves what it would look like to do them good at our expense. This is the path Jesus laid out for us, and is one of the most profound ways to live out Paul’s command to the Philippians: “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Let’s seek to make a habit of that practice in our daily lives!