Summary: A sermon from The Purpose Driven Life which talks about our spiritual S.H.A.P.E.
God wants to use your life. That’s why we want to discover our purpose. There are a lot of shallow secular books out there like the one I saw recently entitled Discovering Your Purpose. It is an attempt to ride on the coattails of the popularity of Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life. Warren’s book is all about finding your purpose by finding God’s purpose for you and plugging into it. It’s all about God. This book was all about me — my goals, my dreams, my desires, my talents. But then, what would you expect?
The great thing about Rick Warren’s book is that it starts out with the opening sentence: “It’s not about you.” He goes on to say, “The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.” I would like to have you read that with me, making it personal: “The purpose of my life is far greater than my own personal fulfillment, my peace of mind, or even my happiness. It’s far greater than my family, my career, or even my wildest dreams and ambitions. If I want to know why I was placed on this planet, I must begin with God. I was born by his purpose and for his purpose.”
We discover our purpose when we find God’s purpose. We discover our purpose when we find God and take him into our lives. We catch his heart and follow where his leading. Our purpose becomes his purpose. We surrender to his will and his plans for us, and it becomes the most fulfilling thing we have experienced in life. We have learned that our purpose is to worship God, to live in loving fellowship with other believers, to be conformed into Christ’s likeness, to serve God and others through a ministry. And today we will be talking about our fifth purpose: You were made for a mission. We have specific gifts that are the particular way God chooses to use us to build up his kingdom, but there is a shared mission that we have with all other believers. We were made to bring other people to Jesus and help them find a personal relationship with him. Jesus described our mission with these words: “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15). This is the Great Commission which is our mission. Jesus promised: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). For us that means Mount Vernon, Ohio, the United States and the other nations of the world.
Here is the great good news: We can know God and help others to know God. We can change the world. As Methodists we do not believe that everything is predetermined and that the future is fixed in every detail. We believe that we have free will, and we can make choices that will, with the help of God, determine the future of the world. We can change the future by the things we choose to do. How exciting is that? History will be different because of the things you do or don’t do. We can actually change the future and shape history by cooperating with God and doing his will. We can change the future of someone’s individual life. Their life will be different because of the influence we have had on them and the good we have done. Their whole eternity will be different because we have obeyed God and shared the good news of Christ with them. You can make a difference, and we never know how big a difference it will turn out to be. Your life counts for something. Isn’t it exciting to think about the fact that the world can be a better place because of you? That’s what happens when you discover and live out your life’s purpose.
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to win people for Jesus Christ. All of us have differing gifts for ministry, but all of us share a common mission: bringing people to Christ. The ways we serve in order to make that happen will differ, but our goal is a shared one. Whether we teach, serve on the Trustees, cook in the kitchen, serve on the Wagon or Apartment ministries, work on the worship team, we all have the goal of bringing people into a meaningful relationship with the living God. We want everyone to find meaning and purpose in this life, but more than that, we want everyone to inherit eternal life.