Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: You need to know when "no" doesn’t mean "no."

I Robot: Fulfilling Your Purpose


Pastor Mark Batterson

This evotional continues our God @ the Box Office series. To check out old evotionals, visit our evotional archive @ www.theaterchurch.com.

One of the most thought-provoking scenes in I Robot is the monologue by Dr. Alfred Lanning. His description of the evolution of robots is a theological treatise on free will. He says, “There have always been ghosts in the machine, random segments of code that have grouped together to form unexpected protocols. Unanticipated, these free radicals engender questions of free will, creativity, and even the nature of what we might call the soul.” He says, “When does the perceptual schematic become consciousness? When does the difference engine become the search for truth? When does a personality simulation become the bitter moat of the soul?”

God has given humankind the ability to make choices. We are “free radicals.” We can choose between good and evil. We can take God’s advice or reject it. We can serve God’s purposes. We can also ignore them or oppose them.

Acts 13:36 says, “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep.” That is the ultimate epitaph. David’s life was far from perfect. He spent a lot of his life hiding out in caves while he was on Saul’s hit list. He committed adultery with Bathsheba and killed her husband to cover it up. His own son tried to steal the throne from him. David experienced the same trails and tribulations we experience. His list of failures is longer than most of ours, but he served God’s purposes! That ought to give us a measure of hope!


We have a question we ask our kids when they do something wrong: did you do it on purpose? We are trying to ascertain whether it was accidental or purposeful. If it was accidental, they get off with a lighter sentence. If it was purposeful they get a tougher sentence. In the context of doing something wrong, doing it on purpose makes it even worse. Let me flip the coin. In the context of doing something right, doing it on purpose makes it even better.

I want to redeem that question we ask our kids and put it in the positive context. When everything is said and done, I wonder if God won’t ask us that very question: did you do it on purpose?

In other words, did you live by default or did you live by design? I’m concerned that the older we get the easer it is to live by default. And if we aren’t careful we can become robotic. We can become machines that go through the motions. We can conform to the world’s protocol.

I Robot is a movie about a robot named Sonny who discovers he is more than a machine. In fact, he has a secondary processing unit. He has feelings and dreams. And he discovers that he is uniquely designed with a denser alloy to serve a unique purpose. In that sense, this movie is a microcosm of life.

Each of us was created to serve a unique purpose. Psalm 139:16 says, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” In other words, the script of your life was written by God before you were even conceived. And the purpose of life is to serve the purposes of God.

A Purpose

One of my favorite dialogues in the movie is the exchange between Dr. Calvin and Sonny. Dr. Calvin says, “Sonny, do you know what Dr. Lanning made you?” Sonny says, “No, but I believe my Father made me for a purpose. We all have a purpose.”

Let me make an important distinction: there is a difference between God serving your purposes and you serving God’s purposes. I think many of us get it backwards. We pull a role reversal on God. We ask God to serve our purposes instead of serving God’s purposes. We ask God to bless what we’re doing instead of doing what God is blessing. We create God in our image instead of allowing God to recreate us in His image. And the end result is a self-centered spirituality.

Let me put some skin on it.

Up until I was nineteen years-old, I asked God to serve my purposes. I think I was genuine. My intentions were good. But it was all about God revolving Himself around my life instead of revolving my life around God. And then I asked God a dangerous question.

I was a freshman at the University of Chicago and I started feeling the pressure to declare a major so I chose pre-law. But I wasn’t really sure that is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. And I realized I’d never really asked God what He wanted me to do. So I asked Him. And in typical God fashion, He didn’t answer right away. But I’m glad be didn’t because I’ve learned that easy answers produce shallow convictions.

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