LIFE ON PURPOSE
These are my notes for teaching at the Cornerstone on Sunday, July 19, 2020.
This is week 6 of our series on what it means to be a human. Today, we're going to answer the question: what are we all doing here? We'll talk about God's purpose every one of us, and God's plan for getting it done.
The news tells us that there is a lot of division and conflict in our nation and around the world. But I think that's a misleading picture.
All around us, in communities and countries, people are working together. We see this in families, neighborhoods, workplaces, and local governments.
Cooperation, community, coming together. Why does this happen naturally without anyone telling us to do it? I believe God hard wired it into our essential humanity.
Why did he do that? So that we could fulfill his purpose for our lives. That purpose is what we're focused on today.
YOUR LIFE IS ON PURPOSE
First of all, it's important to know that no one is here by accident. God put you here.
(Genesis 2:7) Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Every human life is a gift of God. This is what the apostle Paul taught the philosophers in Athens:
(Acts 17:24-25) “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth ... 25 ... he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.
What this tells us is that God has a purpose for us. There is a reason we're here or God would not have put us here.
YOUR LIFE IS FOR A PURPOSE
God put us on planet earth to work on a very specific set of instructions. He gave these to the very first humans and they still apply today. The instructions are in Genesis 1-2:
(Genesis 1:28) God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.
(Genesis 2:15) The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
What's the message here? God put humans on the earth to make the world a better place. That's his purpose for our lives.
My brother can't ever sit still. He's always working on something. A couple of years ago, he bought a cattle farm in the north of Scotland. He works a full-time job managing wildlife preserves then he comes home and works on the farm. There's always a project. He just built a huge poly-tunnel greenhouse for his garden.
What's up with my brother? He's living proof that God put humans here to make the world a better place. That's our purpose in life and God has hardwired it into every human so that it drives everything we do (subconsciously).
And God also gave us a plan to get it done. It's a three part plan:
1. FILL THE EARTH
This instruction is focused on marriage and family. God wants us to get married, make babies, and raise the next generation. Why?
I believe that God loves people and he wants to fill the planet with people he loves.
True enough, some people can be a problem, so more people can mean bigger problems. However, God made every person in his image, to represent him in the world. And he wants to fill the world with his representatives. That gives every human great value and dignity. And the vast majority of people are wonderful, interesting, and amazing representatives of God.
You don't need to get married or have kids to fit in with God's purpose. Some of us will remain single and/or childless and that's OK. There are a million ways to be part of God's plan to fill the earth. We can help families raise their kids. For example: work as a teacher, or volunteer as a coach, or serve as a pediatric nurse. Build or fund schools in undeveloped communities.
If you ask God for some guidance, I'm sure he'll step in to show you.
The second part of God's plan is ...
2. SUBDUE THE EARTH
God instructs us to rule the earth and to subdue it. God put us here to rule the planet with him in the way he wants. Subdue means to bring all the earth's resources under God's rule for the benefit of everyone.
I have a pantry in the basement. It's stocked with food I like to eat. When there's a sale, I buy extra. When it's time to make a meal, I go down to the pantry and pull supplies off the shelves. The downside of my pantry is sometimes a jar or can is hidden and I don't use it in time. Recently, I cleaned out some stuff that expired 10 years ago.
Planet earth is like a massive pantry that supplies all we need: oxygen, food, water, building materials, metals. God is a good and generous provider. Our job is to manage it for the common good.
Don't worry, you don't need to be a farmer or go down a mine to rule and subdue. Almost everything we do fits into the "rule and subdue" categories.
Genesis 4 is a great illustration of this:
There was family: Genesis 4:1-2.
There was farming - Genesis 4:2.
There was religion - Genesis 4:3-4, 26.
There was a city - Genesis 4:17.
There was music - Genesis 4:21.
There was technology - metal working, tool making - Genesis 4:22.
We make the world a better place by getting a job, or making something useful or crafting a beautiful object, or making music or movies. Even sports and hobbies play their part.
Jesus-followers have a special role to play in "rule and subdue." After Jesus rose from dead, he met with his disciples to update the instructions in Genesis. He added the Great Commission:
(Matthew 28:18-20) Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Our role is to invite everyone to come under the rule of Jesus. This is the most important way we can make the world a better place.
Don't ever think your life doesn't matter. You wouldn't be here if that were true. God put you here on purpose. You are part of his plan to make the world a better place.
On your way to work this week, or as you roust the kids from bed in the morning, tell yourself: I'm going to make the world a better place for someone today.
The third part of God's plan is ...
3. CARE FOR THE PLANET
We are God's gardeners. We were put here to take care of the planet. (Genesis 2:15). God wants us to use our wisdom and skills to manage it in sustainable ways so that it serves not only our needs but also those of future generations.
Nancy Pearcy, in her book, Total Truth, writes:
"Our calling is not just to 'go to heaven' but also to cultivate the earth."
Good resources are available online at creationcare.org. There is a workbook that can be downloaded for free which is full of ideas: https://creationcare.org/what-we-do/resources.html
Also, check out Mitch Hescox's book, Caring for Creation. He is the CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network.
We'll leave it there for now.
It's tempting to think, "Mmmm, I don't know about this make the world a better place stuff. I just want to live my own life and do things for myself."
Not only is that selfish, it's boring. And it's a waste of your life.
Great lives are lived according to God's purpose. Making the world a better place, however we do it, is what makes life so meaningful.
The greatest life ever lived was that of the Lord Jesus Christ. He could have sat on his throne in heaven, eating bon-bons and receiving honor from the angels.
Instead, he stepped down into this world. He spent his life bringing the Kingdom of God into people's lives by teaching, healing, and setting people free from demons. In the end, he sacrificed himself to give us a new life and a way back to God, cleansed and forgiven and accepted.
Why? Jesus wanted to make this a better world.
Jesus offers you not only new life and forgiveness, he also offers you a new way of life, a life of love and service. If you commit to following him, you will make this a better world.