I have been feeling a little self-focused recently. Even that sentence, really, is all about me. I find in life when I start feeling unhappy or discontent, that it is often because I am so inside myself – so consumed with my own life, feelings, hopes, and hurts. It isn’t bad to think about these things, we have all those things for a reason. But we are made for so much more.
When we are consumed with our own selves, we are missing out on what is happening in our world. The calling we have from God is to be a part of the redemption happening all around us.
I’ve been reading this booklet called All Things New by Hugh Whelchel. It is about the four-chapter Gospel: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration. He talks about how often Christians limit our story to a two-chapter gospel – fall and redemption. When we do this we miss out on where we came from and where we are headed. (Kind of important, yeah?) When we don’t understand where we are going, we don’t have direction or purpose. Think about getting in a car and starting to drive without knowing the destination – how are you supposed to know what to do?
When we don’t know our origins or our purpose, we end up lost.
When we don’t understand the fact that we are key players in the redemption story happening all around us all the time we live this life scared, lonely, and fighting for survival.
One of my college mentors gave me a great picture of our part in the redemption story. I went to her to ask her to be one of my references for a graduate school application. She bluntly told me, “You don’t want to go there.” She kind of blew up my whole life plan, but I will eternally be grateful for it. Her explanation was this: “___ school has a very different theology than we do. Here’s the analogy: If we picture the world as a huge, sinking ship, people have two different views – some people think we need to just get ourselves on the lifeboats and get out, others think we should instead repair the holes on the ship. That school is the first view, we are the second.” Whelchel frames it like this, “Christians often believe that what they do while they wait for the bus doesn’t really matter.”
But this world isn’t something to escape –It is something to repair.
“God does not make junk, and he does not junk what he has made.” – Albert M. Wolters.
If you have this view of the world that it is “going to hell in a handbasket” and we just need to jump ship, have you ever asked yourself why Jesus came to earth and then went back to Heaven, yet we are still here? And why, when we choose to put our faith in Him and believe, do we still have a life to live here on this earth? Seems to me that if the whole point is for Christians to get out of here, once we declare our faith, we would just disappear into our heavenly bodies.
We are still here because we still have purpose.
He is redeeming this earth and us and we get to actively engage in the process. Whelchel says, “If we understand the only point of the gospel to be our salvation from sin, we ignore the power of Christ in our lives to truly transform others, the world, and us.”
So what is our purpose? To flourish. This doesn’t just mean I get to become super great and do everything I want to do in this life. It isn’t about me – it is about redeemed relationships and restored living. Our purpose is corporate flourishing. “As his disciples, we are to go out into the world and work to bring about flourishing in everything we do, giving those around us the hope of the way things could be” (Whelchel, 21).
We often compartmentalize our faith – when it actually should impact every part of our lives.
If we truly believe that we are part of the redemption story (which we are), and have a role to play (which we do), we cannot compartmentalize our faith. We cannot keep Jesus only on Sundays, or Holy Spirit to Friday night worship services. We cannot limit God to our “quiet times” in the mornings. We need God’s voice leading us constantly, His Spirit inviting us into bravery, His Son’s compassion spurring us on to lives of love and kindness. We need to lean into the redemption story, finding our purpose within it.
So I would love to know your thoughts:
How is your faith impacting every area of your life?
How are you seeking redemption?
What would it look like to flourish in our world today?
One thought on “The Purpose in it All”
Recently in a church prayer meeting our pastor posed the the question, “what does prayer mean to you?” As we went around the circle one woman answered, “prayer is life,” and she went on the explain, “because I can’t function without God’s direction and purpose.” I sat and wondered if I could say the same of my life or if I often act out my vision, not God’s. When I lose sight of where I have come from or where I am going it is almost always because I’ve decided to do something on my own and in my strength. Flourishing is total surrender; complete dependence; reckless abandon.
Thanks for your wisdom and this great reminder that perspective is everything. Your words are part of God’s great redemption.