Showing posts with label Purpose. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Purpose. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

What is Purpose?

Purpose is a concept that has intrigued human beings for centuries. This reality is seen in the ancient question, “Why am I here?”

The fact that we exist isn’t enough. We want to know that there is meaning behind our existence. Many people will spend their entire lives searching for that meaning, trying to understand what their purpose in this world is.

If we are going to start this search we need to ask two clarifying questions: “What is purpose and where does purpose come from?”

At its core, purpose provides the meaning to our existence. It is the driving force that gives our lives direction and worth. It helps answer to the question, "Why am I here?"

Some people will tie their purpose their career, while for others, it will be related to their relationships, faith, charity work, or community involvement. Many people want to have a purpose that is greater than themselves.

From a Biblical perspective, purpose is discovered in the reason behind the creation of humankind. This is what we read in Genesis 1:26-28 (CSB),
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, the whole earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female.

God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”

This passage is key to understanding the Bible since it tells us the reason for humankind’s existence: to bear God’s image. The most important idea behind bearing God’s image is that we are to represent Him in the world. I like to say that we are created to demonstrate God’s character. We are to join God in ruling and caring for His good creation. Whatever our purpose is in life is tied to this reality.

If we are going to demonstrate God’s character, then we need to know who God is and what His will for creation is. The Apostle Paul wrote:
For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9-10, CSB)

Paul’s pray for the Colossians was that God would grant them a knowledge of His will AND spiritual wisdom and understanding. We need to both. The knowledge of God’s will is ultimately a gift from Him. Only He can reveal what His will is for creation and for our lives.

Not only do we need to know God’s will, but we also need to know how to live that will out in our lives. That is what spiritual wisdom and understanding is all about. My definition for wisdom is “the knowledge for living life well in God’s good world.” Again, only God can give us this wisdom and understanding, it is not something that we can discern on our own.

Notice that Paul went on to say that we are to live in a way that is worthy of Jesus, in way that pleases God. In other words, our purpose is found in representing (this brings us back to Genesis 1:26-27) Jesus in how we live (bearing good works) and in spiritual formation (growing in the knowledge of God).

Our purpose isn’t found in our specific work or achievement, rather it is how bear God’s image in the various areas of life. On the one hand this means everyone has the same purpose, but on the other hand it means that our purpose is unique to our situations and experiences.

We can only answer the question, “Why am I here?”, by turning to God. He is our Creator and He created us to bear His image. As we demonstrate God’s character to the world around us we discover the purpose of our lives.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Our Purpose and Our Healing

God created humans to bear His image. To bear God's image means that we are to demonstrate God's character: His love, grace, mercy, and kindness in the world around us.

How do we do that?

It starts with love. Jesus taught that our greatest responsibility is to love God and to love people.
He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” (Matthew 22:37-40; CSB)

The best way we can live this life of love is to be kind and caring to those around us. In a word we are to serve. Serving is the foundation of the purpose that God created us to do.

It is logical that our purpose is wrapped up in serving others, but it doesn't make sense that our healing is too?

In fact, it seems contradictory to say our healing and our wholeness are found in giving our lives away. 

Conventional wisdom teaches that we need to take care of ourselves first before we have the capacity to help other people. Some Christians even teach that we need to love ourselves before we can truly love others. 

The truth that our healing is found in giving ourselves away is another example of the upside down nature of the Gospel. Wholeness is found in sacrifice and healing is found in serving others.

One of the reasons why our healing is found in serving is because we are are broken by our sin and selfishness, which leads to broken relationships. Our sin has led to a damaged relationship with God which leads to a damaged relationship with other people. Since we are created to live in relationships, to have damaged relationships means we cannot be the people God created us to be.

We lack wholeness when our relationships are not what they should be.

So how do we build relationships? 

It begins with reaching out to people in love. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught:
Matthew 5:23-24 (CSB)
“So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.”
We are to take the initiative for reconciliation happen. Even if we have been wronged it is up to us to do what needs to be done to make things right. There is no guarantee that broken relationships will be repaired, but our relationships will remain broken if we do nothing. We find healing and wholeness when we do what is in our power to make things right in a relationship.

Not only do we need to reach out to people in love, but we also have to stop following our flesh. Paul gave the Galatians this warning:
Galatians 5:13-15 (CSB)
For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another.
Our flesh will lead us to be selfish, which in turns destroys relationships and holds us back from pursuing our purpose to love. To find wholeness and healing we need to be led by the Spirit. How do we know when we are led by the Spirit? We know the Spirit is leading when we experience the desire to help, serve, forgive, and encourage people. 

In our journey to become the people that God created us to be we need to know what we can do, those things that are under our control. How we follow Jesus is under our control and that is what I focused on here. There are times in our pursuit of wholeness when we need more help. This is when we should get counseling. A good counselor will help you to find the path of healing that you need.

The thought I want to leave you with today is that healing isn’t discovered in more self-care, but it is found in reaching out to people in love. Healthy relationships have a healing effect on our lives.

The Spiritually Mature Life: Having the Fruit

On Sunday, April 7, 2024, I started a new sermon series at Bethlehem Church called A Spiritually Mature Life. This sermon series is focused ...