Discovering Life Purpose
I've been looking forward to today's
message for several weeks now. The last three weeks as we've
been looking at God's purposes for our lives, and we've spent
a lot of time gaining insight into what God has created us
for. Week one we learned that we are created to bring pleasure
to God. In week two we learned that we are created to be part
of God's family. And last week we learned that we are created
to become like Christ.
Well today we take all of this insight
we've gained and we look at how we can put it to action,
because insight without action equals zero. And as we know God
is a God of action, not just a God of insight and knowledge.
So the last two purposes for our life
are, we are shaped for serving God and we are created for
mission. I want to speak to these two purposes together since
they're both action oriented and relate to one another.
It's good to understand why we were
created, but for me, and I hope for you also, we need to ask
the question, so what? So what do I do with this insight? I
know why I was created, but God what do you want me to do now?
In all we've learned the past couple
of weeks it's become clear that we have been created to make a
contribution. We aren't created to just consume resources - to
eat, breath, and take up space. But rather we've been created
to add value to the world for Jesus sake.
While many profess the ideal of "how
can we get the most out of life," God created us to add value
to his creation, not just take from it. We are created to
serve God. In other words we are created to be in ministry.
God also created us to be in mission.
So what's the difference, the difference between ministry and
Rick Warren defines each this way.
Ministry is your service to believers, and mission is your
service to unbelievers. This is an interesting understanding,
but I don't completely agree with how Warren has defined each.
His definition seems limiting to me, when both ministry and
mission can be far reaching. I believe, ministry (serving God)
and mission (going forth to serve others in the name of God)
go hand-in-hand, and one should not be void of the other.
Back in January 2001, as a
congregation we defined our purpose as a local church to be
"we are growing in faith to grow God's kingdom." This purpose
implies that if we are working to grow in our own faith,
through study, personal piety, worship and service, we can't
help but advance God's kingdom. And over the past couple of
years we've seen this happen in different ways.
I know first hand of at least 9
people, and I'm sure there are more, who have received Christ
as their Lord and Savior as a result of God using us to draw
others to Christ, as we were growing in our own faith.
Over the past two years a number of
you have become involved in new ministries. Some of you have
clearly stepped out of your comfort zone and have done
wonderful kingdom building ministry and mission work out of
your love for Christ. And in turn, have become blessed
yourselves. In other words, many of you have become "points of
Light." And that's "Light" with a capital "L, " meaning you
have represented Christ in what you do.
Back in what I believe was the elder
President Bush's administration, or perhaps it was the Regan
administration, the idea of "points of Light" became popular
in speaking of volunteerism, and actually the phrase is still
used today. But I use Point of Light, not to promote
volunteerism, but to speak of service in the name of Jesus.
We all, are to be points of Light so
that others might move to receive, see, and embrace Christ in
their lives. And a point of Light doesn't have to be a huge
bonfire; it can be a twinkle of an eye that gives joy and hope
to another person. And this is important.
Our ability to serve God in ministry
and mission is not defined by our age, physical or mental
abilities, education, and so on. Our ability to serve God is
based on our desire to do something in the name of God. It
could be serving as a prayer warrior, it could be sending
cards to the sick, it could be repairing homes in the
community, or it could be staffing a hospital or digging a
well in another country.
We can sometimes feel that we are
failures in life unless we've accumulated a lot of things, are
paid a lofty salary, or have a prestigious title. But as we
heard in our reading from Acts this morning, Paul considered
life worthless, unless it was used for God's work, unless it
was used in ministry and for mission. Clearly Paul was focused
on giving to this world in the name of Christ, not just taking
from it. What Paul put into life was far more important than
what he got out of it. Paul was serving as a Point of Light, a
person who just shined with the glory of God. What's more
important to you? What you get out of life, or what you put
In our Gospel reading this morning,
Jesus is praying to God. And in this prayer we understand some
important ideas. In verse 10 of our reading Jesus said, "All I
have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to
me through them."
What did Jesus mean by this? Well, he
meant that God's glory is the revelation of his character and
presence. In other words the lives of Jesus Disciples reveal
his character, and Jesus is present in the world through his
We are Jesus' Disciples, all of us
here. God is present to others through us. As with the
original Disciples, our lives are to reveal the true character
of Jesus, and we're to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We're
to be in ministry and mission, we are to be points of Light,
so that others might see the glory of God, and may come to
know what Jesus is all about through how we live, speak, and
What an awesome responsibility. I know
for me it's sometimes overwhelming and humbling to think that
God has chosen me, the sinner I am to be his representative,
his point of Light here in this place. And we are all chosen
by God and set apart for Kingdom work. Yes, God has tapped you
on the shoulder too and said, "Be a point of Light, show
others the glory of God."
It's also important to realize that
although we have a great responsibility, the ministries and
missions we engage in don't have to be some grandiose made for
TV event. If you call someone out of concern to see how he or
she is doing, you're in ministry; you are a point of Light. If
you send someone a "we miss you card," you're in ministry; you
are a point of Light.
If you visit the nursing home and sing
later today with the residents, you're in ministry, you are a
point of Light. If you stock the food bank, repair a home,
build a school in another country, help those ravaged by the
recent hurricane, you're in ministry, you are a point of
There are so many ways we can be in
ministry and mission, and I'll bet everyone here today is
engaged in some sort of ministry or mission effort, we just
don't see it that way because of what we've come to understand
to be ministry and mission.
For the longest time we've been taught
that ministry was something a pastor did, but not so. We are
all called to be in ministry. A pastor is just one form of
ministry. If you're baptized you are called to be in ministry.
By virtue of your Baptism you are called by God and set apart
to be a point of Light.
We've also been taught that mission
meant going overseas, or to some other part of the country, to
help others. Not so, yes this is a form of mission, a very
important mission, but mission work can be done right in our
own neighborhood. Reaching out to others in the name of Jesus
Christ, and making Disciples is what our mission is,
regardless of where. Some folks are called to work locally,
others are called to work abroad, and both forms of work are
equal, in that the work is being down in the name of Christ.
Being a point of Light, bringing the
love of Christ in whatever form, whether it be food, shelter,
or medicine is ministry and mission.
As I stand here and look out into the
congregation this morning I see many points of Light looking
back at me. Many of you have served as a point of Light for me
personally, perhaps you've offered an encouraging word when I
needed it most, a prayer, or just by saying yes when asked to
serve. Yes, I see many points of Lights here today, and pray
that your light will grow even stronger.
Now what happens when points of Light
come together in Christian harmony? The place becomes all the
brighter doesn't it, there's a divine glow about the place,
you just know Christ is present, you can feel it, and you can
just sense the glory of God is shining all around us. When
there is a great light, some great things can happen.
As a community of faith, we have
opportunity to be in ministry and mission right here where we
live, and we have opportunity to go beyond the town limits to
reach those in far away places. And whether speaking of
ministry or mission, the catalyst, which moves us to action,
is our willingness to serve.
For many to become a Point of Light
requires a change in the way we think, a change of attitude if
you will, a move from consumer to servant.
Know that God is always more
interested in why we do something, rather than what we do.
Intent or motive becomes God's key barometer when judging us,
and this is a point I've been making the past couple of
months. Intent or motive is so important.
To serve God effectively God requires
that we: " place others before ourselves, " think like
stewards not owners, " remain focused on our work and not what
others are doing, " base our identity in Christ and not try to
prove ourselves worthy, " and view ministry and mission as an
opportunity not an obligation.
Now being a servant isn't easy. The
Disciples struggled with this. This is one reason Jesus prayed
to God asking for help with his Disciples. Jesus didn't want
to leave them hanging after he was gone. So God sent us the
Holy Spirit to help us and be with us as we strive to be
faithful points of Light.
In his prayer Jesus prayed for his
Disciples, which includes us today. He prayed that God would
keep his faithful believers safe from Satan's power, setting
them apart and making them pure and holy, uniting them through
When we engage in ministry and
mission, more than at any other time, we can feel Satan's
power all the more fierce. Satan is always trying to blow out
our light, to move others and us away from the light.
We wonder sometimes why it seems so
difficult to get through to people, why they can't or don't
want to get to know Christ. Well one reason is Satan, don't
underestimate the power of evil and deception, it's there,
it's all around us.
The power of Satan is at its strongest
when we are depressed, down and out, and it seems like no one
cares. Satan can get into our heads and begin manipulating our
thoughts, turning us away from God, convincing us that God
doesn't care about us. But God does care, God cares because he
created us and we are part of his family. We mustn't let Satan
blow out our light, and we mustn't let Satan keep us from
bringing the light of Christ to others through ministry and
Being a Point of Light isn't always
easy, but I have found there is nothing more rewarding.
You know God has great plans for your
life, seek his purpose and allow his light to shine through
you, become a point of Light for Jesus sake.
Read the full series of Pastor Wade's
Discovering Life's Purpose