I’ll be honest, here are some popular buzzwords flying off of tongues and pages that have the potential to make my eyes roll. They become irritating either because I’m just tired of hearing them or because I feel like they’ve lost their meaning, morphed by culture somehow. Words like transparency, relevant, synergy, ideation, toxic, new normal. How about you? What word or phrase hits you that way?
You’d think that the word purpose might make that list. It’s used a lot — within and outside of the church. But truthfully, I never get tired of it. Sitting on it a while can point you in the right direction. Understanding and applying it can bring such strength and peace into your life. How do you feel when you hear the word purpose? Excited, Confused, Overwhelmed, Eye-roll-ish?
I wasn’t sure that purpose was even that much of a Biblical word. But I was wrong.
Romans 8:28– And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Psalm 33:11 –But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.
Isaiah 55:11– so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Philippians 2:13 — for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Notice however, that these verses point to God’s purposes. The world (and also often the church) talks more often about finding our own personal purpose–our reason for existing, our place in this world, and how and where we should direct our paths, time, energy, attention and passions.
Luckily, an applicable lesson from last Sunday’s Message covers both: The church was irresistible because people were given a RENEWED PURPOSE individually as they worked together for God’s GREATER PURPOSE collectively.
The first question then is this: Do you feel like you know and understand your personal purpose, and how it is renewed by knowing God and by being a part of his community of followers?
The second question is: When was the last time you felt like you were working together with others to accomplish a greater purpose? Have you seen the results of accomplishing what God wants to accomplish in hearts, relationships, communities, his kingdom, this world? If you have not, you are missing out! Hear today the great invitation to enter not only into what God is doing but also into how he has planned to do it–collectively!
I fell in love with a team-centered, purpose-driven ministry back in Washington state. And I did not fall in love with this sacred endeavor because it was easy, in fact it was difficult and exhausting at times and may have produced tears a time or two. About 20 of us loaded up the rickety church van and headed to a nearby island to run a week-long camp for preteens and junior-highers. We discovered that the surrounding area was full of new-age beliefs that pressed heavily on the fenced in “holy ground” of the camp. We found the attendees came with bruises and wounds from broken families and more — not ready recipients to read the Bible or talk about God. But our team stood strong — dedicated to accomplishing the purpose of sharing Jesus’s love and the gospel with these squirrely young people. Those with prayer gifts walked the perimeter of the camp in a type of spiritual warfare. Early birds rose at the crack of dawn to prepare while the night owls in our group stayed up late to process. Musicians pulled out all the stops to engage reticent worshippers and teachers reverted to the easiest truths of the Bible to present. Grandma’s poured out love and teenagers presented games and crafts. In the middle of the week we wrung our hands but by the end we were shouting praises. God accomplished his purposes for that week, and we got to be a part of it. I would go any place for any project with this multi-gifted, determined group who understood first God’s purpose, embraced their own individual purpose and then charged excitedly ahead into a collective purpose with other like-minded and like-hearted people.
Because of that experience, my encouragement for you is this:
First, find your individual purpose within God’s purpose. When we discover His purposes, we learn more about who He is, what His plan is, how He is accomplishing that plan, and finally what our role is in the midst of His plan. If we focus too much on our individual purpose outside of the will and ways of God — we will end up with just a shell — empty and thin, easily cracked and missing the most vital part.
Second, as you seek and unpack his purposes, undoubtedly you will be brought to the reality that God desires for you to be in a community with other believers. His intent has always been for you to use your gifts to build up others in your community. And his plan is to send His dynamic and powerful Spirit through this collective endeavor to impact the world.
You have missed out if you haven’t experienced the holy and life-giving experience of discovering your RENEWED PURPOSE individually and working together for God’s GREATER PURPOSE collectively. I hope and pray this for you because it is just too irresistible to skip.
May this be the season of purpose for you! We’d be honored if you found this at LifePoint. I’d be honored to help you on this journey. And I’d be tickled pink to hear all about it when it does happen.