~ Agathos Church is a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio. This blog post is an adapted excerpt from a sermon by Pastor Brad Ettore. You can hear the whole sermon, What is our purpose? (part 2), by clicking here.
God’s Will for our Life
Jesus came to reconcile us to the Father. Jesus came and pushed sin out of the way so that we could be reconciled to the Father. When we think the whole point of Jesus’ ministry on earth was to take away sin, once we realize our sins have been completely dealt with, we think “OK, great” and don’t know what to do with ourselves next. We need to realize that the sin issue was simply a wall that separated us from God. The Berlin Wall was torn down – a feat that in of itself was amazing – but the wall was a mechanistic representation of the separation between two halves of the same country. Similary, God made us for fellowship with Him and the dividing wall between us and Him (caused by sin) was torn down in the body of Christ. But the wall was not the goal, the wall was not the “end-game” . . . the wall was a means to an end. The dividing wall of hostility between God and man has been removed for all people and that is why Paul encourages us to beg unbelievers “be reconciled to the Father!” (2 Cor. 5:18) The perspective we need to have about what Jesus came for is a relational one: that we would be reconciled to the Father! We are free to have relationship with Him now! The whole focus is on Him and our relationship with Him, not the sin.
Transformation is caused by our mind being renewed to think as God thinks – to think Heavenly thoughts. His thoughts are not man’s thoughts and His ways are not man’s ways. We have been given the mind of Christ. God wants to give wisdom to all who ask – and He will give His wisdom generously and without reproach. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” (Prov. 3:5-6) God wants our thinking to be renewed. First we are reconciled to Him, and then we are transformed in our thinking according to His Word. The truth will set you free . . . but the only truth that is making you free is the truth that you know! “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (Jn. 8:32)
Duplication is about sharing what we have learned with others – in order to bring them into reconciliation and transformation. We are reconciled once and for all, but the transformation and duplication processes are continuous.
God’s Purpose for our Life
God created you for you. The number one reason God created you was for you – to know you, to love you, to be in relationship with you. Knowing that, we are not without purpose, and our first and number one purpose is to glorify God. Isa 43:7 says “Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.” God created you for His glory! God wants us to be well and whole! He wants us to be blessed and to be a blessing. It brings glory to God when we are wonderful.
God’s second purpose in your life is that you would be filled with His joy! Jn 15:11 says “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” If we are filled with His joy – not artificial happiness – it becomes the number one attraction to the people of the world. People search for joy in drugs, sex, relationships, careers, money, houses, cars, etc. Everyone of us knows we are looking for joy, but many of us have not found it . . . so when you see it in someone else, it makes you want to know “what’s the secret?!?” That’s what the Apostle Peter was referring to in his letter: “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pe 3:15) When you walk in the true joy of the Lord, the world cannot help but take notice.
When we are filled with God’s joy, we love people. When we are filled with God’s love, we love people. We love because He first loved us!
Living for Others
So, how do you get to that place of walking in God’s purposes for your life – that place where we are filled with His joy, loving others, and glorifying Him? The answer is found in all of the gospels, but let’s look at Mark 8:34-35. “When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, ‘Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.'”
So, how do you get to the place of God’s purpose for your life? The place of joy, loving others, and glorifying Him? Jesus said the answer was to forget your life – to stop living for yourself. You see, Jesus knew something. He knew that there is no life in living for yourself. That’s existence. What Jesus was talking about in Mark 8 was the difference between existence and LIVING! It is the difference between a career and a calling. It’s the difference between success and significance. There is a night and day difference between the two. As an open door is vastly different than a closed door, so significance is different than success. And the door to significance hinges on the reality of WHO we are living for. If we are living for ourself the door is closed, but when we start living for God, that door turns on its hinges and significance emerges, a calling emerges, true life emerges!
We tend to think of failure and success as the two ends of the spectrum of human experience. We all know that failure produces sadness and we think success is on the other end of the spectrum from failure – and therefore suppose that success produces joy. But, Jesus said there is something way beyond success – significance! A life that is significant leaves what we know as success in the dust. When you live a life of significance, you realize “oh my gosh,THAT’S living!”
Success is when you add value to yourself. Significance is when you add value to others.
A life lived for others is a life of significance. And here is a secret about living a significant life . . . a significant life is impregnated with success! “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Success is a by-product of a life lived for others – of a life of significance! The problem with that truth is that we don’t really believe it. Jesus is saying: “trust me, if you will live for Me (live for others) . . . I will take care of all the rest!” Lay down your life. Forget your life. Let your life go and serve others – and see what happens! You will live a life of significance! It will be the greatest joy; you will have a heart full of sunshine all of your days.
If you reach great success in your business / career, you experience a level of excitement / elation about your success. The trick is, it doesn’t last. After a few months “at that level” you find yourself needing to pump yourself up to stay at that level of elation. Success is always something new. Success is always something more. Success is always asking for more of you. This is the slavery of success. “Golden handcuffs” if you will. The very thing that was supposed to bring freedom brings a heavy burden and the very think that was supposed to bring you lasting joy only provides happiness for the moment. And, after that moment has passed, after the thrill of success has wained, we are left thinking “there must be more than this.” There is! In the phrase “there must be more than this,” you are the “this” and other people are the “more.” Live a life for others, and be filled with joy. Live a life for others and walk in the satisfaction of significance. Live a life for others and success will never be a concern again – you won’t have to spend your time puffing yourself up, instead you will build others up . . . and at the same time find that you have been built up yourself.
If you are an employer, start concerning yourself with your employees’ well being. Watch what happens . .. your pay may not go up, but you will go to bed at night with a big ole’ grin on your face. What joy! Whatever good you do, you will receive the same from the Lord!