Our Elder Brother
Jesus is our elder brother. We are family—the family of God. And like Jesus, we have a role to play. A plan to discover. A purpose to fulfill. Jesus was born into human flesh to complete a great work that was crafted just for him. There was no other who could do it. He was fashioned for it––destined for it––it was his work to do. Jesus did not spend his time on earth looking for something to fulfill his life, to give him a sense of worth. Early in his life, Jesus proclaimed, “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49 NKJV).
Jesus wasn’t here to do his own thing. He did not need to discover his destiny, He was born with a destiny. You and I don’t need to dream of destiny, or imagine a destiny, or search for a destiny––we were born with a destiny, and that destiny is to be conformed to the image of our elder brother. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
I was still a young man when the full weight of this verse fell upon my heart. Born out of wedlock from the wrong side of the tracks, dirt poor, living beneath a deep-seated sense of worthlessness, it was as if a bomb went off in my head the moment I understood these words. I am the workmanship of Christ, created for good works that were already prepared for me!
With that morsel of truth, I dived into the Scriptures where I learned that not only was I created in Christ for good works, those works were prepared for me before the worlds were formed. God knew my name, my nature, my gifting, and yes—my weaknesses before I was even conceived in my mother’s womb.
This was mind-blowing—a truth of cosmic proportions.
Before the foundations of the earth were laid there were good works fashioned and formed—prepared—for me, and now the Holy Spirit is preparing me for those good works. I was not an accident. I may have been a surprise to my mother, but I was no surprise to God. My name was already engraved in the palm of his hand. I was not born with limited potential but with unfathomable promise, grafted into the eternal purposes of God. Before God said, “Let there be light,” I was already in his mind.
And this is where it gets good. Not only was I conceived in the mind of God before I was conceived in my mother’s womb––works were being prepared for me to do. In the vast eons of time, there was a chunk of responsibility carved out just waiting for my arrival. From that moment of realization, I ceased pursuing the things I wanted to do in my life and began to search for and discover the purposes for which I was created. Suddenly, my life had meaning. My life had a purpose. I had a sense of destiny.
Martin Luther is a wonderful example of a man of God who pursued excellence and truth about our lives in Christ. The hallmark of the reformation led by Martin Luther was that we are justified by faith. By restoring the understanding that we cannot be made righteous by our works, but only through our faith in the righteousness of Christ, Luther restored liberty to the lives of untold millions. People who would have continued to live under the bondage brought on by believing in justification through indulgences and personal efforts.
In that same spiritual revolution, the idea of the priesthood of all believers was rekindled. Luther discovered that the Scriptures do not teach an exclusive priesthood. He proclaimed that not only should every person have the Scriptures available for personal study and as a standard by which to measure his or her own life, but that person should also understand that because of the sacrifice of Christ, each of us can come before the throne of God with boldness and without the agency of a human mediator.
You and I are predestined to excellence!
You and I are called to live over and above the normal, or the natural. We are called to live in the supernatural. We are to strive for excellence with the aid of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps Paul said it best in Romans. “For those whom he [God the Father] foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29).
Maybe you balked at the word predestined. For so many of us, the word conjures up all sorts of negative responses because all we can see is the murder of our free will, something to which we are greatly attached.
However, when I see that phrase, “predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,” the lights of hope go on in my head.
These words speak of a wonderful, caring, thoughtful purpose in my creation. They tell me that a mighty God, the ruler of the universe, carefully and purposefully crafted my being as an intricate element in his plans for the universe. Just like Jesus!
We were planned by God. We are his workmanship created for great works––works crafted for us before the foundations of the earth. He has predestined us to be conformed to the image of his Son! Everything that God allows in our life experiences is a part of that craftmanship, shaping and forming us into the image of Christ.
There was nothing about Jesus that was average. There was nothing about Jesus that was mediocre. There was nothing about Jesus that was normal. Jesus excelled at being a human being, and he wants you and me to excel as human beings as well. We can’t do it on our own. We cannot escape the entrapments of the flesh without the help of the Holy Spirit. That is precisely why Jesus sent the Holy Spirit––to help us. He promised that when the Holy Spirit came, he would give us power, he would give us gifts, and he would help us rise above the crowd as servants, just like Christ himself.
One night, I stood beside a man when a young fellow said to him, “I just want to be an average Joe.” Without blinking, the man looked the young fellow right in the eye and said, “Do you know what average is? Average is the bottom of the top; it’s the top of the bottom. Don’t hunger to be average; seek to be excellent in what God has called you to do!”
Taken from “Our Elder Brother” An excerpt from Chapter 4 of my new book OVER AND ABOVE, Pursuing a LIfe of Excellence. To learn more about Jesus, your Elder Brother and what that means for you–– go HERE to order your copy today.