Job’s story gives us a glimpse behind the scenes of the great controversy as it plays out in our lives. The man was simply living his holy life when the devil randomly, it would seem, picks on him. The first two chapters of the book of Job draw back the curtain, showing clearly that Job’s experience of hardship is tied to a larger metanarrative involving the entire universe. A metanarrative in which God’s character is on the line.
Clearly, not everything bad that happens to us falls within the paradigm of Job’s experience. Sometimes bad things result from our own poor decisions (dare I say, most times?). But in Job’s life we see the principle that how believers live has ramifications in the universal question of whether God is trustworthy. The way we handle trials and temptations casts a vote either for or against the trustworthiness of God. So this controversy really isn’t about you—it’s about Him!
But let’s flip the coin for a minute and look at the great controversy from God’s perspective.
Sin enters the universe through a process summarized by the Bible as a mystery. The omnipotent Creator God could simply wipe out His creation and just start from scratch, but that’s not the God He is. Instead, He chooses to risk His own life to redeem His fallen creatures. So unfolds human history as it is revealed in Scripture: the story of God’s fight to restore communion between Him and His creation.
You see, from God’s perspective, this is all about you. Think about Jesus’ mission statement as articulated in His name: He came to save His people from their sins. It does not say that He came to vindicate His character before the universe. Even though His life actually did reveal something about His character, His purpose in coming was actually focused on us, not on Himself.
A common thread runs through these two perspectives of the great controversy. From the human perspective, this controversy is not about us, it’s about vindicating God’s character; from the divine perspective, it’s about reconciling the world to Himself. Whichever angle you look at it from, it’s not about yourself; it’s about someone else.
God’s life is others-focused. As His children, so should our lives be. Thus, even when facing temptation, our motivation to live victoriously ought to come from a desire to honor God (and not, for example, from fear of losing our good reputation). My college major, my choice of employment, who to marry, when to marry, how many children to have, where to live, what to eat, what to do for recreation…All of life’s decisions should be motivated by a desire to honor God!
The focus on living for others is a principle that governs the actions of all those on the winning side of this great controversy. So it’s not about you. The moment it becomes about you, you’ve crossed over to the losing side.