Word of the Week: Ecclesie What? Part 2
Jeff Needleman, New Beginnings Church
Part one of this message focused on our questions about the reason for our existence, and whether or not our lives have any value. The following is the second part.
While often difficult to see, God has a purpose in all things. He works in and through even in the most heartbreaking tragedies for our own benefit and the benefit of others. This perspective can help us see and accept that God has a plan and a purpose for us, even in the midst of the crises! Hopefully, we gradually learn the vital lesson that we can trust God deeply and completely— just as Horatio Spafford did!
Unlike Solomon, Spafford didn’t wander away from his trust in God, and he kept to the purpose God created him for! The significance of our lives is really and truly based on the fact that there’s an active and participatory Sovereign God of the universe and we find our meaning in meeting the role He has set for us! Solomon knew this to start with, forgot somewhere in the middle, but regained it at the close of life!
I know I found my role… preaching. Recently, when my middle son was at home, he asked- “Pops, I noticed that you bow your head and pray each time you work on your sermon… what are you praying?” I answered, I’m praying that God will help me to write an effective and interesting sermon.”
He responded… “So how come God doesn’t help you?” But the thing is… God always helps me… and you whether we see it or not!
I quoted a scripture from the book of Isaiah earlier, but let me now add its last sentence… Isaiah 49:4 NLT I replied, “But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose: Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.”
In the last portion of that verse we find an important answer. Again, it’s a matter of trust… do we trust that God finds us significant and that in that significance we have meaning and impact on others? Sometimes His purpose for our lives is immediate; while at other times it is long range so we’ll probably never see the seeds we planted but harvested by others.
Growing up, my neighbor Mary witnessed to me through her behavior and love. In high school, my friend and fellow musician Bryon also witnessed to me in behavior and deed. Then as an adult, Michael, in word and deed showed me Jesus. When I told them of the seeds they planted and the role they played in my accepting Jesus and the Lord of my life and Savior for all eternity… well they had no idea!
To understand our significance, let me quote Rick Warren from “the Purpose Driven Life”:
You see, it’s not about you. The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career, even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.
The search for the purpose of life has puzzled people for thousands of years. That’s because we typically begin at the wrong starting point–ourselves. We ask self-centered questions like “What do I want to be? What should I do with my life? What are my goals, my ambitions, my dreams for my future?” But focusing on ourselves will never reveal our life’s purpose. The Bible says, “It is God who directs the lives of his creatures; everyone’s life is in his power.”
Listen, it’s in the fulfilling of God’s purpose for us, our Godly roles- that not only do we find significance, purpose, value and meaning in our existence, but also contentment, and maybe even some joy and happiness! In the Bible, God clarifies our roles, sometimes generally, and sometimes specifically as in the book of Matthew:
22:37-40 NIV “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
28:19-20 NIV Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
These two verses tell us our purposes… to know and to love God, and to know and to love others- and to share our knowledge and love for God with those who don’t know Him and help them to grow in their relationship with the Lord. Now, how it plays out for us individually will vary, but God has given each of us a role to play.
So, my real question is: “Are you living God’s purpose for you?” We have to put our “big kid” pants on and stop focusing on us! It has to stop being about the “me” and start being about the Lord.
I believe that when we’re not fulfilling our purpose by fulfilling His purpose for us, we experience a divine dissatisfaction that will never be sated. But, when we look to God, when lift each other up, and when we strive to make a difference in the lives of others, then we will find purpose, peace and contentment.
In John 15:1-3, Jesus said “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
To be fruitful, we need to be attached to the vine…. And we need a relationship with our creator for that! If you ever want to talk about that please feel free to contact me at New Beginnings.
New Beginnings Church