Monday, March 08, 2010

Invitation to Purpose

It can be difficult to live out our God-given purpose.  Life has a way of slowly slipping away and taking us with it.  When we were children we had grand dreams of the things we want to accomplish and the people we want to be.  By the age of 30 so much of what we have dreamt is gone and in its place are jobs, bills, and an endless number of events to do.  We start to believe life is nothing more than existing in the midst of millions of other people.  To have purpose in our lives seem to be more of a fairy tale than reality.
I believe everyone has been created with purpose.  In Ephesians 2:10 the Apostle Paul wrote; For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago (NLT).  If we could really grasp what this passage is saying it would revolutionize so many people’s lives.  Paul tells us that long before we were born God created us for a purpose.  He has a plan for our lives!  There is a life He desires for us to live.  We are not accidents, and there is a reason for our existence.
When I use the word purpose I mean the life God planned for us long ago.  Our purpose can only be understood in context to our relationship with God.  Without that relationship our purpose eludes us and the life God created us to have is beyond our grasp.  The purpose we have in life comes from God.  There is no other source for purpose.
To help us find our purpose we need people who will enter our lives and invite us to something larger than ourselves.  Without this happening we will most likely spend our days existing from one day to another.  We will be responsible and do the things that are required of us, but we will not be doing that things that make us alive.  That is the power of purpose in our lives it moves us from existing to living.

 J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit provides an illustration of this truth.  The Hobbit tells the story of a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins who is quite content to stay home and never have any adventures.  Gandalf the Wizard and a troop of dwarves change Bilbo’s vision of a full life.  The dwarves have a mission and they invite Bilbo to be a part of it.  Through the adventure Bilbo learns things about himself he never would have discovered and his life changes.
The best way for people to discover their purpose is to be among people with purpose.  Many times it requires people living with purpose to invite other people to join them.  We discover our purpose best through our relationships with people.  We need people who will come alongside of us and offer encouragement, support, and love.  It is this type of environment which is needed to unleash our potential into purpose.
People are longing to be part of something that is bigger than themselves.  They want to lead lives of significance and to make and impact in the world around them.  At the end of their lives they want to know they counted for something.  All they need is the invitation to get involved.
Peter and Andrew had met Jesus.  They had heard his teachings and maybe even witnessed a miracle.  They were intrigued by Jesus, but life brought them back to their fishing boat.  Fishing was their work.  Fishing was how they provided for their family.  While they were being responsible, their hearts ached for something more.  They needed an invitation to discover purpose.  Matthew 4:18-20 tells of that invitation:
One day as Jesus was walking along the shore beside the Sea of Galilee; he saw two brothers--Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew--fishing with a net, for they were commercial fisherman.  Jesus called out to them, “Come, be my disciples, and I will show you how to fish for people!’’ And they left their nets at once and went with him (NLT).
I am convinced Peter and Andrew wanted to follow Jesus.  It must have been something they had considered since the day they met him, but their “responsibilities” held them back.  It took Jesus approaching them and inviting them to get them to leave their nets and follow him.  It was following someone with purpose, My purpose is to give life in all its fullness (John 10:10; NLT), which provided the environment for Peter and Andrew to discover their purpose.

Jesus had purpose to his life and the purpose included building relationships.  The relationships which Jesus built with the disciples provided the road over which purpose could travel.  It was by unleashing the disciples potential and starting them on the road of purpose that Jesus’ purpose continues today. 
Purpose has little to do with our accomplishments and has much to do with the relationships we have.  We can write books, win championships, pass laws, or give money, but if we don’t invest our time in another person our purpose will be lost.  Matthew 22:37-40 reads:
 Jesus replied, “ ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (NLT). 

Everything we do must be founded on loving God and loving people.  For us to pursue a purpose which is not founded in relationships is to pursue a life God did not create us to live.
I am where I am today because people with purpose came alongside of me and invited me to join them.  The key person was a youth minister I met at church camp.  He extended to me an invitation to join his life and to participate in what he was doing.  For six years he encouraged me and helped me discover the purpose God had for my life.  Without people like that most of us will never understand our purpose and we will lead a life of existence, quietly going with the flow of life.
Over the years I have tried to extend that same invitation that was given to me.  Sometimes I have seen a person take wings and fly, understanding their purpose in life.  Other times I have seen the person get swallowed up in the darkness of this world.  No matter what I happens, every time I make that invitation, every time I invest time in another, I come away with a better understanding of who I am and the purpose of my life.
As we begin to understand our purpose it becomes our responsibility to invite people to join us.  The only way our purpose will have a lasting effect is to invest in another person.  Yes, it is an investment.  It is going to take time,  it is going to take money, and it is going to take being vulnerable. I want to tell you that the reward is worth the risk.

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