Lesson 8: Life Itself Is Less Important Than Knowing God

Understanding Tragedy


Life itself is less important than knowing God!

Many Christians find this Biblical truth difficult to accept as followers of the King!

Undoubtedly you have heard church people say many times that God has your best interests in mind, that God wants to give you his best. We often interpret that to mean that God will give me whatever I want in life, fulfilling my hopes and dreams; but that is a twisted and worldly perspective. God is not interested in giving you what’s best in your view of life; he’s interested in giving you what’s best for his name and his kingdom through your life.

Jesus told Peter (John 21:18):

I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.

The editorial given to us by John in verse 19 adds:

Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.

Notice at play here all of the themes we’ve been studying. God has purpose in death just as he has purpose in life. Jesus told Peter that it would be a path where he will not want to go; clearly we recognize then that Jesus does not have Peter’s best interests in mind, he has God’s best interests in mind. Peter doesn’t get a vote because Peter has surrendered himself to Christ. When you and I surrender ourselves to Christ: we finished having a vote; we recognize we are not living in a democracy.

Paul said we have been set free from sin and become slaves to righteousness which leads to holiness. That doesn’t sound like our desires, our dreams, or our wishes and goals are going to be the priority from now on. To be a slave to righteousness means complete surrender to the course that God has laid out for us, with reckless abandon and no consideration of the cost.

Paul said that we were to count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. That doesn’t sound much like a democracy. That doesn’t sound like God is asking us how he can serve our desires today.

The goal of the death of Peter was the same as the goal of the life of Peter; to bring glory to God. The life of the believer is designed to bring glory to God first. God’s interests are paramount, not my interests.

For Peter, Life itself was less important than knowing God. For Paul, Life itself was less important than knowing God.

When we weigh all of eternity against the so-called tragedies we face in this life, they become miniscule next to the hope of glory. The first instant you experience the joys of heaven will erase every heartache of a lifetime. Tragedy, has a beautiful way of focusing our attention back on God.

Romans 8:28:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

We love this verse; and we frequently apply it to our lives.

If we apply for a job and don’t get it, we say God closed that door for me because he has a better job for me, one that pays more, where I won’t have friction with my co-workers. That’s what we are looking for. That’s how we read the word of God. That’s how we tend to interpret it and apply it to our lives.

If we approach this verse with you and I as the focal point, with our own welfare as the focal point, than the verse seems to be saying that God has my best interests in mind or that God will make my life all peaches and cream with no rotten apples. While that is how we most often tend to interpret these words, there are a number of other passages that negate that view as does the Christian experience. Therefore it cannot be what these verses are saying.

To come to those conclusions, we have to redefine what love is, and what it means to love God. We have to redefine what God means by the term good, and what he means by working things out.

Christ worked out the martyrdom of Paul and Peter for good; the good of the Gospel. He worked out the persecution of the early church for good; the good of the Gospel. Because the early Christians were persecuted, they fled all over the known world taking the Gospel message with them.

And we know that in all things God works for his good through those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

In other words, if you don’t love Christ, the way the Bible defines that concept, if you aren’t striving to fulfil his purposes rather than your own, then the product of your life will never glorify Christ. Life itself must become more important than knowing God.

The death of Christ on the cross was the greatest tragedy of the human existence, and yet no Biblical scene more clearly depicts this principles established by Romans 8:28. Great good was accomplished through the death of Jesus on the cross even though it was perpetrated by great evil. Jesus as he was dying, left us an unmistakable example of how the godly respond to tragedy. Far from doubting God, he placed his trust in the promises of God.

From Psalm 22:30-31, the Psalm Jesus quoted before dying we read:

30 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. 31 They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn - for he has done it.

Far from being words of doubt and unbelief, these sound like a triumphant declaration. He has done it! God provided a way for his mercy to triumph and his justice to also be satisfied, by counting the death of Christ as punishment for everyone else who has existed or ever will, if only they will submit to him and surrender the course of their lives in return.

The tragedies of life and suffering are an integral part of life – even Jesus faced and endured much suffering throughout his life. But we have a choice to struggle through it alone and perhaps become bitter through it. Or we can let God walk through it with us and bring something good from it, allowing him to build character and maturity in our lives and walks with him.

Ultimately we must recognize that Life itself is less important than knowing God.

Proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn - for he has done it!

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