I have always spent a lot of time with other people. From sports, which molds people into tightly knit teams followed by four years of undergraduate work where students seek to branch out from their roots. As a young fellow I interacted with a range of people purposefully heading in the same direction.
From that background, joining the military was probably a natural step. Only I did not just join the military, I went for the airborne infantry, which brings somewhat diverse folk together with a single-minded determination to break and or destroy everything one can get away with it. However, this puts the question of purpose squarely center mass of a person. What were we doing and why? These are good questions to ask.
From the infantry going into Special Forces, which again acts much like a sports team, only with rifles, commo gear, demo bags, 110# rucksacks and sunglasses. But again, what is the purpose and what kind of social pressures exist to maintain conformity and why would a sane person decide to do this?
With this kind of background, I thankfully found Jesus and was freed from uncertainty forevermore. I found purpose in Scripture and a real mission worth dying for. We find that mission in the Great Commission of Matthew 28: 18-20 where Jesus says,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This is a mission and purpose, delivered straight from Jesus to the 11 disciples, and carried forth an additional 2,000 years to today. This does not come out of nowhere, it was actually given by the Father to Abram 4,000 years ago when the Lord said in Gen 12: 1-3,
“Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. (emphasis mine)”
We see Peter quote God when he speaks in Jerusalem after healing the lame man in Acts 3: 22-26,
“Moses said, ‘the Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you…You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”
I take these Scriptural quotes from Genesis, to Jesus, to the Apostles so we can understand God’s plan as described by Paul in his letter to the Colossians in 1: 26-27, “…the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
In other words, those initial words of the Lord to Abram were a mystery to him and those that followed. They did not have the full picture of God’s plan, only that God had one and they needed to trust God. But for us in the Church Age, we have the fullness of this plan open and available, in Christ.
This is true purpose and direction. This is where our lives make sense. Sure, most of us will attend a school of some sort until we are 18ish. Many from there will pursue a trade or college in the hopes of finding a career that will provide for a family and the future, just like everyone else. Many of us will slowly accumulate wealth and possessions and move into new areas of life, but there will be a major difference for Christians.
For the Christian, I sure hope you recognize your purpose is not the same as those who are not in Christ, even if your lives appear to track the same paths. For those outside of the promises of God, their life may have many similar appearances, but the ultimate driver and motivation is different. The non-believer lacks purpose outside of a never-ending seeking of fulfillment for the hole inside of them.
Jesus fills this void and frees the disciple from seeking fulfillment anywhere but in Christ. The believer still goes to school or learns a trade, gets married and has a family, while progressing through the stages of life just like the non-believer, but throughout each of these stages and steps, the believer recognizes their ultimate mission, to be a blessing to the world by sharing the light of Christ to those in darkness. There is purpose behind all the steps in life and each step is for the Kingdom.
So to close the circle, I recently asked some young men why they were doing the things they were doing? Their answer was primarily in the vein of enabling them to get a job they can earn money with that will support a family etc. Their answers are not much different than mine are today, only the result and causative agent differs. I and other believers do the same things, but for the glory of Jesus and His kingdom instead of our own.
And this is our purpose. Are you on board with God’s plan or are you overboard seeking a lifeline?