Collaboration is the concept of two or more people working together to create or produce something greater than the individual. It is a model of synergy in which all parties involved bring their best to the endeavor and is most evident in the fulfillment of mission and purpose. This is what God invites each follower of Christ to — a collective work that produces a kingdom impact — God in collaboration with us.
Jesus is the definitive expression of God with us. In fact, the very first reference of his birth in Matthew 1:23 proclaims this through the angel’s words to Joseph, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, “God with us,” ESV). This partnership with the Divine reminds us that we are created to show God to others, invited to share the mission of heaven on earth, and empowered to shine as we discover how we truly fit in God’s grand design.
In This Article:
Created To Show God’s Image
The desire of God for the identity of humanity is clearly stated in the Genesis narrative. God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,” (Genesis 1:26, ESV). Humankind is the Imago Dei, or portrait of God, and this likeness equips us with the potential to show God to the world. How can this be when each of us is so different? In our DNA, we are carriers of the imprint of God. Through a relationship with Christ, we become a unique expression of God’s presence as we live, learn, lead and love. God has imprinted us with his image and his character from the beginning of life. Sadly, sin has marred that picture and because of that, we lose sight of God’s masterpiece and our part in his master plan.
Thankfully, salvation in Christ is God’s restoration process. As we continually reorient ourselves toward God’s love and plant ourselves in godly community, a rescue effort ensues, and the image of self begins the process of reforming to the reflection of God. It is the real time evidence of the biblical prescription Paul shared with the church of Corinth when he proclaimed, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit,” (2 Corinthians 3:18, ESV). It truly is something to behold at work in ourselves and others.
Invited To Share God’s Mission
It is essential to understand that history is his story, and the restoration of the Imago Dei enables us to take our place in God’s grand narrative. Please understand — You. Have. A. Place. There are no orphans and there are no outcasts in the family of God. Each human is an image bearer and a carrier of potential.
In seeking to fully grasp this, I am inspired by the words of King David in Psalm 139. The 24 verses of this song proclaim with clarity and awe that God is aware of our presence and his attention is on our progress. He has imparted gifts, talents and opportunity into our DNA from the inception of our being, and in that is great hope and purpose.
The impetus lies in part in our joining God in the journey of our development. This is the initial point of collaboration and is echoed in self-evaluation. This is evident in David’s exclamation of his own understanding of self as he states, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well,” (Psalm 139:14, ESV). It is essential to understand: God’s works are wonderful; you are wonderful. When we grasp this reality in our innermost being, we empowered to live out destiny and engage in collaborative mission with God.
Empowered To Shine God’s Love
On the night before Jesus was to be betrayed, he shares an important identifying trait that would reveal those who were truly in community and collaboration with him on mission. This quality, when present, would clearly display the presence of God at work. What was this profound marker? It was, and still is, love. Jesus shared, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” (John 13:35, ESV).
This love is not fickle, carnal or conditional as worldly displays of love can often be, rather, this love is affectionate, caring, kind and generous. It is the love God delivered to us through the cross of Christ, and it is the love displayed through us as we carry out our missional purpose and kingdom work. We are most like Jesus when the mature fruit of the Spirit is on display in our lives (see Galatians 5:22-23) and we love others, including enemies, well.
This love in action powerfully reveals the presence of God through a community that is truly Christian (like Christ) and is so appealing it is nearly impossible to resist. Love is the empowering presence of God that enables us to live out purpose and identity for kingdom impact. God’s love for us, flowing through us, connects our passions to his purpose and reminds us that we are part of something greater than ourselves. We most definitely have a part in God’s master plan. It is essential. It is eternal. It is good and it is God with us.
Remember, after God declared that humanity would be created in his image, imparting identity, he assured purpose and invited us on mission, “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Genesis 1:29, ESV). Friend, be confident in this: you matter to God, you have part in his mission, and you are embraced by his love. Be blessed!
Wondering if God’s plan for you includes a degree in theology and ministry at Grand Canyon University? Read more Theology Thursday and fill out the form above to learn more about the degree programs offered by GCU’s College of Theology.
Approved by an instructor of theology from the College of Theology on April 14, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.