Summary: Doesn’t God have a purpose for mankind in general or for the church as a whole? Isn’t focusing on individual purpose a little self-serving? Aren’t we pushing individualism at the expense of the Body of Christ?
Up to this point, Purpose Weekly has focused on individual purpose. But what about corporate purpose? Doesn’t God have a purpose for mankind in general or for the church as a whole? Isn’t focusing on individual purpose a little self-serving? Aren’t we pushing individualism at the expense of the Body of Christ?
There’s a big difference between individual purpose and individualism. Individualism stresses independence and individual rights over that of society as a whole. What’s good for me is more important than what’s good for the group. My rights as an individual are never to be subsumed into the rights of the group.
Individualism flies in the face of the idea that, in Christ, we are one Body, one Bride. The Bible says that, “… in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12: 5).
If we are all one in Christ, shouldn’t we be thinking a little more corporately when it comes to God’s purpose? If we’re all in this together why focus so much on individual purpose? Isn’t the Body as a whole, more important than each of us individually?
We all fall under the same grace; we are all subject to the same commandments. Doesn’t God’s purpose extend to all as well? Isn’t His purpose for all of us summed up in the words of the Westminster Catechism? “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
So what makes the idea of a unique individual purpose so special? All that’s required of any of us is to accept Christ as Savior, avoid sin and ask forgiveness when we’ve stumbled; right? Isn’t living the normal Christian life, going to church, putting money in the plate, raising the kids in a good home, getting along with my spouse, enough? If I try to be a good Christian aren’t I really fulfilling the purpose God has given me, has given all men, in this life?
Jesus met a rich young man in his travels; the story is recorded in Matthew chapter 19, Mark chapter 10 and Luke chapter 18. From the conversation you could infer that the young man was not just wealthy but a pretty good guy as well. From all appearances he was doing everything right.
If we put him in a time machine and zapped him into the 21st century, he would fit quite nicely into any upscale community right here in the States. He would have a successful business or manage an impressive investment portfolio. He would have a wife, two kids and be an upstanding, not to mention financially important, member of his church. What’s more, he’d be a great guy. He would always be helping with projects at the church and in the community. His record of public integrity would be spotless. He would be admired by everyone in the community. If there was a Successful Christian club, this guy would be the poster child.
When this young man approached Jesus he was already living a good, upright, synagogue-going life, but he wanted more. Being good wasn’t good enough; he wanted to be perfect. With the right attitude and an open heart he asked, “What good thing must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus saw through the man’s question to his need: “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good.” Then Jesus gave the man an answer he could understand: “If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”
Now the young man had something he could hold onto. “Which ones?” he wanted to know.
“‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“All these I have kept,” the young man replied. “What do I still lack?”
Jesus cut to the bone. “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
This guy had life nailed in every way but one. The man who had everything couldn’t give it up for the one thing. Jesus was asking too much. He followed all the rules but he couldn’t follow the ruler. The story ends with one of the saddest statements I know of in the Bible. It breaks my heart because it happens around us every day. “When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”
The Bible is full of commands regarding how we should behave. They are universal in scope and authority. They apply to everybody. Jesus boiled them down into two: “… Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind …” and “… Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22: 37, 39).