Summary: The fourth purpose of our lives is to serve God.
(Note: The title, and some of the ideas for this message came from Rick Warren’s sermon of the same name.)
This morning, we continue our series of messages on "The Purpose Driven Life". We began by establishing that God made us for a reason, every one of us. No one here this morning was a mistake or an accident.
"For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him." – Colossians 1:16, NIV
And because God made us, the meaning of life begins and ends with Him. Because God made us, only He can tell us what we were made for. Our purpose in life revolves around Him. It’s not about us. It’s about God. Therefore, the only way for us to find lasting joy and satisfaction is to devote ourselves to God, and dedicate ourselves to fulfilling His purposes for our lives. As Jesus promised:
"If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life." – Matthew 16:25, NLT
Let’s briefly review. So far in this series, we’ve learned that the first purpose for our lives is to give God pleasure through worship, by continually offering up to Him all that we have and all that we are. We were made to love God, and we do that by giving him our attention, and our affections, and our actions. By taking our lives and presenting them to God, daily, as an offering. That’s what worship is.
We’ve seen that the second purpose for our lives is fellowship, learning to love God’s family. God’s purpose from the very beginning has been to create a family. His reason for bringing you and I to faith was not only to bring us into relationship with Himself; but also to bring us into relationship with one another. That’s what He’s doing now, through the church. He’s building a family, which everyone who trusts in Christ is a part of. And the way for each of us to cooperate in this process is to make a commitment to a local church body, and then begin to share our lives with one another – share our resources, share our homes, share our struggles and our burdens, our joys and our sorrows.
Last week, we studied the third purpose for which God made us, which is to become like Christ.
"From the very beginning God decided that those who came to Him - and He knew who would - should become like His Son . . ." – Romans 8:29, LB
The word for this process is "discipleship." From the very beginning, long before he brought the universe into existence, God had you in mind, and his intention has been to make you like His Son. His goal, right now, is to transform you; to take you from wherever you are, and bring you through a lifelong process of change that will result in you becoming more and more like Jesus Christ.
". . . as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more." – 2 Corinthians 3:18, NLT
How does God do that? How does he reshape our thinking and our attitudes; how does he make us into the kind of people who joyfully and willingly serve him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength? We saw that first, he uses troubles or trials to deepen and mature our faith. Second, he uses temptation to help us develop the habit of making godly choices. And third, he uses trespasses, the ways in which others hurt us and sin against us, to help us learn to forgive one another, just as Jesus forgave us. In fact, God uses all kinds of experiences, all kinds of people, and all kinds of situations to mold our character. His goal is not for us to experience continual comfort and pleasure in this life. That’s what heaven is for. Instead, His goal is to glorify Himself by making us like Christ.
"In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." – Romans 8:28, NIV
This morning, we’re going to look at the fourth purpose for which God made us, which is to serve Him. But before we do that, I want to pause for a moment and issue a cautionary note.
The truths that we’re in the process of exploring are very powerful. They have the potential, literally, to change the course of your life. In fact, the way in which you respond to them will very likely affect your eternal destiny, either for good or ill. Now, sitting here in a quiet room, listening to a sermon, may seem like a pretty safe way to spend a Sunday morning. Especially here in America, where we don’t have to worry about the police bursting through the doors to arrest us. And the building we’re meeting in seems pretty solid; I don’t think it’s going to fall down on our heads. But in fact, this is quite a risky activity, from a spiritual point of view. It’s full of both opportunity and danger. Because the Bible tells us that we have only two options when hearing the Word of God. We can respond in faith and obedience, allowing it to transform us. Or we can respond in unbelief and disobedience, hardening our hearts against the truth. In other words, at the end of this series, you will either be closer to God or further away. But listening to these sermons and remaining unchanged is not an option, because the powerful Word of God always has an effect. It always moves us in one direction or another. The only question is whether it will move us toward God or away from Him.