To read Part 1, go here.
To clarify, some Christians have taken the view that God's story is somehow their story and that the cross is all about them, and for them. Let us be certain that we are mere participants in God's story. Some might say God needed a relationship with us; others on a different extreme have twisted God's love as the motivation to be about them somehow...
So let's be clear: the cross and the mystery of his will were "to the praise of his glory" (Eph 1:11). Or to be even more exact, scripture says, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved--and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, SO THAT in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Eph 2:4-7).
Everything about the cross and God's story should point to his grace and love and glory. If it was "for us," it was only in the most undeserved way, as we were dead in sin and he made us alive! We've all read "by grace...through faith." But let's not forget the part that reads "and this is not your own doing; it's the gift of God...so that no one may boast" (Eph 2:8-9).
With the right perspective of God's story, we can begin to do that which he desires, that which he has given us the authority to do: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, for good works, which he prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Eph 2:10). Post-salvation is not about waiting til we reach our mansion in the sky. It's about letting Jesus sanctify his bride--doing everything he can to conform us to his image is his desire. So when it says we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, it's talking about our re-birth--our new man, brought to maturity through sanctification and the washing of the word. That new man is now ready to do God's work, his will, on earth.
The bride of Christ is sleeping and unprepared. We've not let our bridegroom sanctify us, and we're not doing the works that he asked. In fact, we hardly look like Jesus at all. We think "it's too hard; I'm too sinful," and in our laziness, we fail to bring the kingdom on earth. We fail to do what we've been given authority to do. We fail to walk in the plans that have already been laid out for us.
Do we not believe in the power of Jesus? Do we not believe that we've been given the same power? (Eph 1:19-23) Do we not understand our inheritance? The seal of the Holy Spirit? (Eph 1:13-19) Or do we not grasp the riches of grace lavished upon us, undeservedly? The great love that points to the glory of God in his redeeming will....
We must let our bridegroom renew our minds from what we know. We need to be washed with his word. Oh that he would begin to sanctify his bride... Oh that she would let him... and that we would begin to walk in his purpose for us here.