THE MEANING OF LIFE
Have you ever contemplated the meaning of life? Asking questions like: Why is my life so complicated? Why am I here? How can I find real purpose in who I am and what I do? Is this really all that life is supposed to look like?
You’re not alone. At some point in each of our lives we have questions like this. Francis Collins, who was the director of the Human Genome Project, the international, collaborative research program whose goal was the complete mapping and understanding of all the genes of human beings. Faced with such questions posed by his study participants gradually led him to become a Christian. He says, “I have to admit the science I loved so much was powerless to answer these types of questions.”
Jesus says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16 ESV).” Two things stand out in this statement: A) the request - let your light shine B) the result - others will give God glory. So the meaning of life according to Jesus is - lead others to God by living in Christ. Simply put: God asks us to find our life purpose through leading others to Him. “Leading” others to Christ is best expressed through missional “living”.
Missional living is a life that is committed to living to learn, learning to love, loving to lead, and leading to live for the glory to God. If you were to compile a list of the most important things you can “do” to live missionally what would you list? You may come up with things like witnessing, being a part of a church, going on mission trips, or worshiping God with all your strength. Ultimately you could end up with a list as long as the ocean is wide. Rather than drowning in the depths of stuff missional living focuses on 3 things: you, your family, and your friends.
I love to sit and do nothing, but my nothing is something. I’m always thinking, tweaking, evaluating, and challenging myself to be more like Christ. When I was a pre-teen I would spend hours playing by myself, I was my best friend. I know, it seems a little out of touch with the world around me, but I just couldn’t rest until I knew what made me tic. When I was a teenager I would write poetry to identify and think through my random thoughts. My young adult life was filled with prayer, journaling, and listening to God’s still small voice. I wasn’t always the most popular, seemingly together person, but I learned to focus on the “You” portion of missional living.
You must find time to renew, refresh, stretch and grow. The best way to enrich your life is to enrich your relationship with the Father. If you want to find out who you are find out who He is. Remember, we are here for His purposes not our own. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV). What better example do we have than to model the way Jesus lived his life.
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone.
In Matthew we have a clear picture of Jesus spending time by himself. He needed time alone, not time alone to play games, read books, or watch some TV. Time alone to focus his life, dreams, and relationship with His Father. What a great example for each of us.
Your family can be as specific as those that live under your roof or anyone that shares common interests, passions, beliefs, and lifestyles. In our society we often try to isolate, give away responsibility, and even ignore our family connections. When we do this we are not only ignoring our responsibilities to those we love, but also ignoring God’s call and design for our lives.
Growing up in a family that encouraged free thought was perfect for me. At an early age I found myself asking real tough questions. Does my Dad love my sister more than me? Why do my parents get to stay up late? Was I adopted? My sister seemed to think so. Seriously, my family was fundamental in my mental, physical, and spiritual development. My Grandmother led me to the Lord, and my Father taught me God’s character and challenged my faith. My Mother helped me to understand that it’s OK to be emotional, and my sister and brother reminded me that I was not “all that.”
Now that I have my own family my heart longs to pass on God’s character in much the same way my family passed it on. Family is one constant throughout our life that has the potential to steady or distract our heart, mind, and soul. Not all families are anchored in their faith deeply, but your specific role in your family can begin to serve as a catalyst for God to supernaturally change the fabric of your family dynamic.
1 Timothy 5:8
8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
1Timothy is very clear. Take care of those you love. If you don’t then you are worse than the worst. For many of us this is very difficult. I remember times that my feelings, anger, and pride has got the best of me, and honestly still does. I’ve put holes in walls, broken baseball bats, and wounded others deeply with my sharp tongue. I’ve lied, cheated, and neglected the very people that I call my family. I’ve also swallowed my pride, confessed my sin, accepted the consequences, and placed my loved one’s needs before my own and before everyone else.
When a healthy family is the focus, it will help to open the floodgates of communication and avoid some of the pitfalls that life may present. It is our privilege to be a living example of Christ to our family. Galatians 6:9-11 says, “Do not become weary in doing good especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” The family is a fundamental vehicle in God’s plan for reconciling the world to himself.
Friends are amazing. I have friends that call me just to let me know I’m loved, friends that listen, and friends that speak. Most importantly friends pushed me. If it was my first kiss or my first leap of faith, friends have been essential in urging me to move when fear would hold me back. Being a friend is helping, challenging, debating, and responding to what God does in and through our lives.
Do you think Jesus just “happened” upon the men that became his 12 disciples? Was it by chance that David and Jonathan became so close? What about sending the disciples out two by two? Why not by themselves? Elijah and Elisha were they enemies or friends?
Friendship is a common thread that binds God’s work together. So, nurture and value your friendships, God purposefully ﬁt you together. There are things that you cannot do alone. God has surrounded you with people that will help you live missionally. God’s Kingdom is advancing one friendship at a time.
13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
Friends are one of the world’s greatest blessings. John 15 speaks to how much we should love our friends. It says that we should be willing to care for our friends so much that we would be willing to die for them. What? Die? Yes die for them. If we truly love our friends with this kind of love we would not just die a physical death for them, we would die to our self every day. Sometimes putting someone else's needs before your own feels like death. In a way it is.
LEADING TO LIVE
When I think about the most memorable, life changing things that have happened in my life they revolve around being led or leading others. I truly believe a life without a desire to influence or lead others will become meaningless, shallow, and uneventful. When life is focused on leading others to the only source of truth then it becomes more than eventful, it becomes eternally significant. The only ways our lives are eternally meaningful are when we surrender our personal agendas and live missionally.
We only have one life to live. What we decide to do with it does not only affect our life, but the lives of everyone in our circle of influence. Surrender to God and see that He is watching, waiting, loving, and making paths specifically for you! “Leading to Live” is ultimately a restatement of the Great Commission. We must go, and as we are going…. make disciples. That will be the most rewarding life ever offered.
Your ultimate purpose is found in sharing His love and redemptive plan with the world. The most comforting aspect of sharing his love comes naturally. He has already brought and brings hundreds of people into your life naturally. Think about your family, friends, co-workers, social networks, etc. You have hundreds of relationships God has already given you to nurture, develop, and mature. Spend time on the relationships you have been blessed with.
Focusing on these three things will not cover every scenario that life brings your way, but it will help you simplify, focus, and prioritize your life’s journey with the Father. These three areas that you will focus on will help you better prepare yourself for life and ministry. Take time to look at yourself, your family, and your friends with a new perspective (God’s perspective). Identify the roles that He would have you play in bringing them home.
Can you identify three areas in your life that if surrendered to the Lord would allow you to be used more freely by God? If so, why are you not surrendering those areas?
When your walk with the Lord is solid does your family’s walk seem to be influenced? Why or Why not?
What friendships do you have that challenge you to be more like Christ? If you don’t have any, why not? If you do, what are you doing to encourage and develop those relationships?