Tomorrow starts a new year – time to look at the big picture of life, answering questions like, “Why am I here – what’s my purpose?”
Just a few thoughts about that: Your primary purpose on earth is not to do good works. If you follow Jesus, your purpose is to feel his love and then reflect it.
We can’t share his love unless we feel it. Though we’re separated from God and feel the distance, we were born to be with him and to bring others into his presence. He reconciles us in our broken state to himself and asks us to invite others to the party. When we feel his love and reflect his love to others, we embrace the ministry of reconciliation.
Maybe that sounds like evangelism to you. The word “evangelism” sticks in a lot of people’s throats like a bone. They equate the term to acting like a kind of a religious used car salesman in a cheap suit. The problem is that when Jesus asks us to share the gospel wherever we go, we complicate his assignment with threadbare words.
My guess is that if we really understood how so many people feel, it would be much easier to embrace the ministry of reconciliation.
Perhaps you’ve never experienced the sense of utter despair that comes when you feel abandoned by God. Perhaps you’ve forgotten what it was like to feel God’s embrace for the first time.
People all over the earth feel ugly, forgotten, and estranged from God. The Bible calls them “children of wrath,” and that’s how they feel – at odds with themselves and the God who made them, living in a scarred and forgotten place. Listen to a missionary friend of mine describing the Islamic culture in which she works, “The legalistic religion dictates every aspect of culture turns their lives into little more than an empty performance of religious acts from cradle to grave. The streets also teem with the various categories of the hopeless. Twisted forms of the crippled, deformed, and indigent hobble down the sidewalks or lie on cardboard mats begging for small change. The lunatics wrap themselves in filthy blankets and rail into empty space. The poorest of the poor are labeled sinners and treated as soulless outcasts. The sense of oppression is thick.”
How do you respond? I think, “Someone needs to launch a rescue mission to set these people free.” And if you were to launch such a mission, people would call you a “missionary.” And you might blanch at the thought. What do you feel as you read these words? Perhaps you feel a small twinge of the pain they describe. Perhaps the word “missionary” conjures up a picture of people being preached to who are quite content to be left alone. Whatever your response to the words, don’t let them distract you from your purpose. We mustn’t let words trip us up or water down the urgency of our assignment.
As a follower of Jesus, your purpose is a noble one. You are called to partner with God to help people realize their belovedness, to see a God who is lovesick and wants to woo them back to himself. It’s the task of setting things right, of restoring the natural order to things – orphans brought into a family, parched lips feeling the refreshment of a cool drink, lonely hearts feeling the glow of companionship.
Jesus described his kingdom as a place where lost things are found. When we’re that lost thing and he finds us, we realize the treasure we are in his eyes. And we get to join him in helping others to see themselves that way too.
It’s an incredible thing to partner with God. It’s wonderful to help a person see that God loves them. If you’ve experienced it, it may have been the high point of your life. To join with God in helping others experience his love is a privilege that we we need to grasp. It’s a purpose to which we must commit.