So all of us, sitting there in our dining room in the foothills of the Honduran mountains, continued the search for the human purpose. How surprising (and tragic!) it is that we can quickly and accurately name the purpose of a pencil or a seed but have no clue as to what our very own life might be good for.
“If I don’t know the purpose of a pencil, I could very easily pitch it into the bonfire as if it were firewood, thus completely sacrificing its actual purpose as a writing utensil, and then I’m left wondering where on earth I could find such a tool that might be used to make visible my thoughts on paper. If I don’t know that my clothes’ purpose is to cover up my body for decency and protection from the elements, I could wad them up and use them as rags to clean the floor and then wonder why I’m naked and cold. Nobody butchers their Rottweiler for dinner or fills their shoes with potting soil because we know their purpose, and that knowledge guides us in how we see these things and how we utilize them.”
Some people began laughing nervously, as if the examples given might just be a little too absurd. What’s absurd? The fact that almost no one understands – and much less fulfills – their purpose as human beings.
I continue, excited to be able to shed a tremendous amount of light on a search that many are confused by their entire lives. “Taking Jesus Christ as our example – literally God made man – let’s see what His purpose was. Maybe that will give us a clue as to our own.”
So about a half dozen people with Bibles started looking up the verses written on the dry-erase board propped up against the wall, and we started reading the verses one after another, young and old, married and single, many of which would hear these words of Jesus’ for the very first time.
(Jesus in John 5:19, 30): “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does…I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.”
“So Jesus – who is all-powerful, has all wisdom, who had been with God Himself since before the creation of the world – did not say, “I’m here to eat and drink and be merry! Let’s enjoy the good life, folks!” or “My purpose is to acquire weapons and lands and armies and become the most powerful man on the face of the earth!” But rather, he said, “I am here to…?”
(Jesus in John 6:38-39):“For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day.”
Someone from across the oblong rectangle of chairs, stools and benches said in a quiet voice, “…fulfill God’s will.”
“Yes! Jesus’ purpose – which he states time and again – is to fulfill not his own will but that of His Father’s. And we’re talking about Jesus – the man who worked miracles, who was given the power to be raised from the dead! If His purpose was not to glorify Himself, accumulate goods, lands, and earthly power, or have as many wives as possible, or maybe cheat the system to get ahead, who are we to do so?”
Many people’s faces display a look of shock, as if it is offensive to think that God might be greater than man, that even though Jesus emptied Himself so as to be filled with His Father, I-ought-to-have-the-right-to-do-as-I-want-because-I’m-me.
(Jesus in John 7:16-18): “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me. Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own. Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies.”
“And this is not meant to make us feel bad, but rather to liberate us from ourselves! Praise God! The Savior of the world did not come to make Himself great but rather to serve God’s purposes – He is our example of the ultimate human life, our laid-bare purpose as human beings.”
(Jesus in John 8:28-29):“When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I am he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. And the one who sent me is with me—he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.”
“Many people go off to the university or spend their entire lives ‘finding themselves’ or searching futilely for some ‘purpose’. I know because I’ve tried, and I know a lot of people who are still stuck without their answer either because they haven’t found it or refuse to acknowledge it! It’s like owning a pair of shoes and spending your entire life scratching your head wondering what they might be good for while you walk around barefoot, accumulating blisters and cuts on your exposed feet.”
(Jesus in John 8:49-51): “No, I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father—and you dishonor me. And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!”
“What’s the good news in all this? With God’s help, anyone can do this. Anyone can fulfill God’s will, living for His glory rather than their own. Men, women, children, someone in a wheelchair – whether you live in a palace or on the streets in England or India or wherever – even if you’re a slave in chains! – the ultimate human purpose is within your reach. You don’t have to have a certain amount of money or education – and neither are you excluded if you have too much of either.”
People are listening, and I’m praying that they ‘get it,’ that we all ‘get it.’
(Jesus in John 17:3-5): “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.”
“Jesus came as a poor man – his human dad was a carpenter, and he basically spent his days walking from village to village teaching the Truth, no strings attached. He didn’t eat exquisite food all the time, never got married, and we know He didn’t have a college degree. If His purpose was to fulfill not His own will but God’s, seeking to bear good fruit for God’s glory, then that’s an extremely strong indicator that we are to live the same way.”
(Jesus in Matthew 26:39): “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
“We can lay aside all our own invented ‘purposes’ – “My purpose is to be as comfortable as I can be at all times!” or “My purpose is just to have a good ole time, to have some good laughs before I die!” or “My purpose is to be gay or to be ‘me’ or to be ‘different’ because no one can tell me what to do!” or “My purpose is to be the best at everything (or at least think that I’m the best) so that I feel good about myself and don’t damage my self-esteem!” It’s like a Rottweiler rebelling against its owner, saying in defiance: “My purpose is not to be a faithful watchdog! My purpose is to be a world-class ballerina!” or a helicopter deciding that it prefers to function as a submarine boat. What if the sun preferred to function as a light bulb in your living room? Everything in the known world functions according to its purpose; we know this well, and our daily lives depend upon this truth. Now that we have heard our own purpose, we may choose to walk in it to God’s glory, taking Jesus as our ultimate teacher and guide in doing so, or we may continue inventing other ‘purposes’ for our lives that in the end prove to be equally dangerous and ridiculous, like using a machete to brush your teeth.”