The other day, I had a distraught friend walk into my office. As he sat down and began to explain what had him so stressed and upset, he leaned forward and asked with vulnerable candor the question humankind has asked for a few millennia:
“Why in the h—- am I here? What’s my purpose?”
The question of life’s meaning, its purpose, is one that has baffled both the secular and the sacred alike. It asks, “Do I matter in this world?” “Do I matter to God?” “Do I have value? Or am I just a pawn on the chessboard of life?” This question of identity is a huge one. We live in the constant tension of being in comparison mode, striving to keep up with or attain a particular stature, and or lifestyle, that is both false and unattainable. Genesis 1:26-27 states that we are created in the image of God, not physically, but spiritually, in ways that are hard to imagine. The Bible also tells us we are God’s masterpieces! (Ephesians 2:10). In light of these truths, Jesus makes our life purpose really simple: love God with all you got, and love others as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39). We call this the Great Commandment.
“Sounds easy enough, attend church, pray, read my Bible and be kind to others, I got this…I’m doing this.”
But Jesus doesn’t stop there. Moments before he ascended, he charged his disciples and us with: go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism…then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. (See Matthew 28:19-20, The Message). We call this the Great Commission. It is more outwardly focused or missional. So what does the Great Commandment and Great Commission look like in regards to a life on purpose?
According to Pastor Rick Warren we have five purposes.
“Wait, I can’t figure out my one reason for being here, and now you are telling me there are five?”
Yes, well, sort of. Warren suggests that these five purposes are worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and mission. These purposes are derived from (you guessed it!), the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. These five purposes are designed to be lived out in a balanced manner, so in essence, we have one God-breathed life purpose, one central life calling, broken down into five descriptive components to keep us moving forward and thriving as a Christ follower. Living life on purpose, gives you meaning, simplifies your life, focuses your energy, motivates you, and prepares you for eternity. This is also called discipleship which is the process of becoming who Jesus would be if he were you.
As people created in God’s image, we are to follow Jesus and join him on mission, to make him famous, to live as salt and light in a dark world, shining with his love and grace (Matthew 5:13-16). To follow Jesus means we think, speak and do as he does. Everything in life plays off of that one life purpose. Here is where it gets even more exciting, we are God’s plan “A” for the world…there is no plan “B”.
So are we striving to be better representatives, better conveyors of the purposes of God in our world? Here are some questions to chew on that hopefully lead you to repentant action and life change, all the while making
Jesus famous through your life, love, and obedience.
1. Have you settled in your heart and mind the truth that you are made in
God’s image and are God’s masterpiece? If not, confess that to God and
allow those truths to be absorbed within you.
2. How do you interpret the Great Commandment and the Great
Commission? Why are these two passages so key to living life on
3. What does being “salt” and “light” mean and look like to you? How can
you advance this truth about you for those God has placed in your life?
4. How are you keeping a constant flow of God’s word and direction for your
life? What does that look like? How can you grow closer to Jesus and
become more like him? Be specific, and if you need clarity, ask a mature
Jesus follower for insight.
5. Where are you serving Jesus, by serving others? Is there a ministry at
your church or within your community you can be involved in for the
benefit of others? Go do that!