What is God after? Why are you set on this scene as you are? Why is it that God does not give us such pleasant situations and circumstances as we crave for, and make it easy for us? Why does it seem rather that He makes it hard, puts us into hard places, and does not deliver us or prevent us from those very trying conditions? Why is the furnace heated seven times for saints, men who are walking with God? Well, what is He doing with us? Is not this the necessary background to formation according to Christ? Where will the characteristics of the heavenly Man have an opportunity, if not in adversity? Love has no meaning unless there is a background of hate. It is supine, it is weak, it is not real. When you read, “having loved His own that were in the world, He loved them unto the end” (John 13:1), you say, ‘that is a miracle’. When you read the prophecies of Hosea, and see God uncovering His heart about Israel, the unfaithful Israel, the unfaithful wife, the harlot wife, and then crying as with a broken heart, “How shall I give thee up?” (Hosea 11:8), you have to say, ‘that is love’.
You only see it in the light of the background. And this heavenly manhood can only be developed over against a background which is so opposite. That is why He puts you among men who are so earthly, sensual – ‘old-Adamic’. That is why He calls upon Christians to live together up against one another’s old man. If only we could get with all those nice Christians, it would be easy! But you would not develop any heavenly character if the Lord took that line.
God is practical. We do know that in no other way could God get us changed. He gives us a first-class opportunity just where we are of developing characteristics which are not of the old man at all – they are of the new man; that is the explanation.