What is My Purpose?
What in your life gives you purpose and meaning? What makes you feel full, satisfied, happy?
How do I make sense of what is happening in my life? Good, bad, and everything in between?
What the World Says
To be your best self: This means looking, talking, and acting in a way that others vibe with.
To fulfill all your desires: This means fulfilling all of your desires for physical, emotional, and psychological fulfillment.
To leave a legacy: This means living a life of such fame and purpose that your name will be remembered.
You are your own god: Make your own meaning, create your own path, worship yourself and your own desires to be your best self, fulfill your desires, and leave a legacy.
There is no God. Life does not have any more meaning than you. You are born, you die, and it’s over. You cannot have purpose if this is your perspective. Purpose will be temporary.
If there is NO God.
Why I am here?
Well, if God doesn't exist, that means that life must have come about through some natural impersonal, unintelligent, and ultimately purposeless process. That means we're ultimately as purposeless as the very process which brought us into existence. Life's just an accident and so are you.
You serve no purpose, you'll cause no lasting effect, and in the grand scheme of things your life is utterly meaningless. Without a Creator in the beginning, there was nobody around to put you here on purpose which means you aren't here for a reason. It's that simple.
Most of us feel there is more to life than mere biological existence and survival. That there must be more than sleeping around, making money, and leaving a legacy in a history book. Because as we talked about last week, those ideas give us glimpses of fulfillment, not lasting or everlasting meaning.
Where do we find meaning?
The Story of our Lives
We often look back at our history and mark certain causes and effects—if I hadn't gone to this university I wouldn't have met my spouse, for instance, or if we hadn't chosen to move to this city our lives would be much happier.
We live with regrets looking back on life. We look forward to how our life might be in the future.
Weaving all the seemingly random and different events in our lives into a story gives them meaning and purpose. All of us, therefore, live out of some big story.
We often find meaning in the way that our story fits into place with others story. When we find a community of people who share the same experience, view of the world, and perspective.
Example: Sub-Reddits: Small communities of individuals who are interested in the same memes, topics, or discussions.
But what if meaning, if our purpose, was less about ourselves feeling good, looking good, and living good lives. Or even finding how our story matches another group of peoples story -- but about how we fit into the bigger story of Creation?
A story that the Bible actually tells us, from the creation of the Earth, until the future new Heaven and New Earth.
Now I know that it often feels like our lives are totally disconnected from that of the Bible. I mean, the Bible is a 2,000 year old book. What could it possibly have to say about my life in 2021 today?
The Story of the Bible
Not only are there individual stories that resonate with us -- Moses telling God that he isn’t the guy for the job, Jonah running away from God because he did not want to follow God’s purpose for his life.
The Bible can be seen as telling us a big story that all of us can live by. It's a big story that gives meaning to all of our lives that helps answer, "Why am I here?"
God creates a beautiful world in perfect harmony, unity amid diversity, loving relationships of interdependence. And God created human beings, male and female, to relate to him in loving communion and to relate to the world, as God's representatives, in loving communion as well.
Alienation - The Fall
But this perfect world didn't last.
Human beings, seduced by the anti-god way of life, chose to play God instead of being content with their roles as humans. They broke the harmony in the world. They turned interdependent relationships into oppressive and domineering relations. By playing God to the world and to themselves, human beings distorted their proper relationships to God and to the environment. As a result, they have alienated themselves from God and the environment. Hostility, rather than love, marks all our relationships.
Redemption (Redeem: To bring back to the original good intended state)
God, however, did not remain silent and did not choose to leave us to our own self-destructive ways. God decides to bring about reconciliation from this alienation we have created. In his redemption plan, God chose to invite humans to cooperate with him.
God wrote himself into the play, as it were, in the person of Jesus Christ. And Christ's death on the cross was the ultimate act of forgiveness and reconciliation for the world.
This is where we are today. Broken, but forgiven.
Act 5 is still being written today by us.
In the final act, God's redemption project reaches its completion and the whole creation—humanity, animals, and plants—are reconciled into harmonious living again. Broken relationships are healed. Everyone is, once again, playing their proper roles in the drama of life, in loving interdependent relationships.
God is still in full artistic control of the whole thing, as the ending, Act 6 is already written. This not only gives us freedom but also gives us relief. We are not burdened with the near impossible task of writing Act 6, of making the final chapter a reality. God has that covered. We are not asked to create heaven on earth; God will do that in his own time. Our responsibility is to be faithful and to contribute toward Act 6. Act 6 depends on God, not on us.
God has written the final chapter. Good triumphs over evil. But in our day to day lives, we must continue to make choices between the two. Yet, God remains in control. Even when we choose bad over good. He brings our bad choices, and turns them into our good.
Example: A toxic relationship - Led one another away from God, away from family and friends, and into this place where neither one was true to who they were. God used those difficult experiences to shape the way that I am now in a Godly relationship with my wife. God teaches us through mistakes, and uses our mistakes to bring about good.
Okay This is All Fine, But Seriously: Why is My Purpose?
You were put here on this Earth...
For Relationship: To love God, and love others - “Love your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul and with all your strength. Love your neighbour as yourself" (Mark 12:30–31).
With All People
For Creation: To be people of love, justice, and mercy in a world of hatred - “Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8).
To contribute with your gifts for the betterment of the world around you.
To participate in what God is doing all around us -- to be a part of the goodness of life, even in the darkness of the world we live in.
For Sharing the Good News
To be a voice sharing what it means to be loved and forgiven by the Creator of the Universe, made possible by Jesus dying for you.
God is In Control of it All
Now this is where we feel the pressure.
What if I do not know how to have a relationship with God?
What if I do not have any other relationships with believers?
What if I do not know myself and my gifts and how I can contribute to the goodness of the world?
What if I do not even really know if I believe in this ‘Good News’, or how to share it?
Answer: God is in Control
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory,” Romans 8:28-30
But, What if I Ruin God's Plan with All My Mistakes?
We make mistakes, but that does not change or interrupt God’s good plan in your life.
We have free will, we can make decisions, we have the ability to choose.
But no matter those choices, God works in and through those who love Him.
We might make a crappy choice. We will do things we regret. We will say things to people we love, and do things that we wish we had not. But God does not push us away. But instead, sent Jesus for us so that we might be
You can choose between A and B.
Both can be GOOD choices. God is not limited by what we decide, but is working through our lives no matter what.
Our purpose in life, is based on God’s purpose for all of creation. His story from beginning to end. A story that you are a part of. That you have the gift of contributing to.
So what does the Christian faith say about these purposes? How do we bring creation, ourselves, and others back into a right relationship with God?
To bring us, his creation back into the right relationship with Him. Not matter how far away we might be in this moment, His goal is to bring all people back into a right relationship with Him. Through the forgiveness of Jesus.
Four Purposes of All People
1. Love: God created us out of love, He sent His son in love, He saved us from our sins and forgives us because of His love. We live in this love, we are saved from ourselves because of this love, and we are now called to love others in response.
1 John 4:9: “We love because He first loved us,” 1 John 4:9.
John 13:35: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
Romans 12:9-11:“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.”
Be people of love - a love that we received from God, and we pass on to others. The love of my heart is selfish and temporary. But as I receive the love and forgiveness of Jesus, I offer that same love to those around me.
From this love we then move to love the world, even when we have a hard time loving those difficult people.
It isn’t the love of our human hearts, but the love that Jesus has given to us and poured out into our hearts as we accept him.
2. Hope + Suffering: We are in a time in history with this pandemic where we are constantly balancing being hopeful for a normal future. A normal Summer with friends and family, a Fall semester on-campus again. Vaccines for each of us! But we also realize that right now we are still in a moment of loneliness, of mental health struggles, of suffering in so many different forms.
Hope: A total grounding of one’s confidence and expectation in God’s goodness, providential care, and love, even in the face of trouble.
Lam. 3:21-22 - “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
Does the thought of reading break ever keep you going when school is hectic?
And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:2-8
3. Faith: “We live by faith and not by sight…” Cor. 5:7
We interpret the world around us by understanding God as the Creator and sustainer of it all (Col. 2)
We also respond, if we truly believe that God is the Father of all creation, in action to care for and seek the good for all of it (1 Cor. 15)
Faith as Trust: We trust that God is not only the one who put us here, who gave our lives meaning, and called us to living for Him -- but that He created us for relationship with Him. This does not mean we cannot doubt or have questions, but that amidst our questioning, amidst our suffering, amidst the difficulties of life - we can trust that God has our best intentions in mind.
Prov 3:5–7: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.”
God has a wonderful purpose for you. It may be different from the purpose that the world wants for you. But as you choose to live for God, to give your life to Him and to accept the love and forgiveness of Jesus. I guarantee that your life will change. Your heart will change. Your purpose will change as it is realigned from the goals that society puts in front of us, to the goals that God has set for us as He leads each of us. Goals not of wealth, power, and success, but of love, faith, hope, and yes even suffering -- all with the purpose of knowing God more, loving His people more deeply, and contributing to the renewal of all of the brokenness in creation. We do this out of joy in response to the love first given to us, even when we do not deserve it, from Jesus Christ for our brokenness.