Ambassador of Reconciliation
7/22/12 at 06:41 PM 10 Comments

Called for a Purpose

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The title of this week’s chapter of the Bible study[1] I’m doing this summer is “A Faulty Focus,” and it is about defining your life purpose. As I have been thinking about why God put me on earth, it seemed to be a good time to put into writing the thoughts I have had on this question over the last couple of years.

As stated in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” The primary purpose of every believer is to glorify the Triune God—to honor the Father, to know Christ, to walk in the Spirit—and in so doing we will find our greatest delight in Him. In addition, I believe that God also has a unique purpose for each of His children. If we understand the reason He put us on earth, we can live each day purposefully, as Jesus did:

My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work (Jn. 4:34).

And when we come to the end of our life we can say with Jesus,

I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do (Jn. 17:4).

Defining your life purpose is one of those tasks that 7 Habits  author Stephen Covey,[2] who just died last week, would identify as “important but not urgent.” We tend to spend much of our time on activities that may be urgent but not necessarily important. Those who have truly learned to manage their time—in other words, to manage their lives—know that it is essential to make time for important but non-pressing activities, like determining what God is calling you to accomplish with your life.

Covey urges readers to “begin with the end in mind”—to visualize what it will be like to come to the end of your life and look back on what you have achieved. Knowing where you want to head will help you to take daily steps in the right direction. He advocates writing a “personal mission statement” to express your values and what you want to be and to do. As Christians we can learn much about God’s will for our lives from His Word, and we can also ask Him for discernment to know His unique purpose for us.

I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me (Ps. 57:2).

Discovering God’s purpose for me has been a process involving a lot of stumbling around, often not even being conscious of anything beyond getting through the daily demands of life. After losing my job a few years ago, I was somewhat at a loss to know how to spend my days. For 30+ years my life had been defined by kids and/or work, and suddenly I wasn’t quite sure what I was supposed to do with myself. So I tried to become more intentional about figuring out how God wants me to spend the rest of my life. As part of that discernment process, I spent a day at a seminary to explore how I might use the resources there. That day—and in particular, one class that I attended—proved to be pivotal in helping me see God’s purpose for the rest of my days.

When I had the opportunity to visit classes at the seminary, I chose a Pastoral Ministry class because I figured it was related to my interest in counseling and personal ministry. God has given me a ministry to hurting women, and I wanted to learn how to better serve them. I had no idea what that day’s topic for the class would be, but it turned out to be a theme that I have a passion for—reconciliation. Just days before, I had written “Reconciliation: The Heart of God’s Grand Plan for Creation,” and I was thrilled that the professor spoke about this topic using many of the same passages that I had used (Colossians 1, Ephesians 2, Romans 5, and 2 Corinthians 5). His emphasis was on the pastoral aspect of reconciliation while mine was on the theological doctrine of reconciliation, but his class helped me to see the direct connection between the two. It provided the link between my two passions, one practical and one theological: my desire to minister to people’s emotional and spiritual needs and my interest in the theological question of reconciliation, particularly what it means that God will “reconcile to Himself all things.”

In his notes for the class, the professor identified reconciliation as “the great work of God”:

From Gen. 3 forward, God undertakes the work of reconciling all things to Himself. This is the great work of God (Eph. 1:10), which God Himself is ever engaged in (John 5:17)…. God’s work of reconciling “all things, in heaven and on earth” to Himself, has an already—focused on the finished work of Christ at the cross and resurrection (Col. 1:15–23; 2 Co. 5:18a, 19a; Eph. 2:11–22), a not yet—which will involve the final defeat of every enemy, principality and power that currently is in defiance of God (1 Cor. 15:20–28), and an even now (2 Co. 5:18b, 19b–20).

He showed that Christian ministry must involve reconciliation:

It is clear that the reconciling work of Christ includes reconciling humanity back to God (Eph. 2:1–10; Rom. 5:8–10; Col. 1:15–23, etc.) and reconciling humans to one another (Eph. 2:11–22; Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11; 1 Cor. 12:13). These, then, must mark pastoral work.

He named the areas of enmity where God is working to bring about reconciliation and where we can cooperate with Him:

To fully consider what our current ministry of reconciliation should involve, we need to consider the aspects of enmity that have marked us since the Fall. These include enmity between:

  • God v. human
  • human v. human
  • human v. oneself
  • human v. creation (nature)
  • human v. creatures
  • creature v. creature

My particular interest is in the second and third (restoring relationships between human beings and helping people deal with inner conflict in order to become whole psychologically and emotionally), both of which, of course, also involve the first—being in right relationship with God. I am very thankful that God used this class to bring into focus His great purpose and the need for us to be actively cooperating with Him to bring it about. I believe that the cross will fully accomplish the reconciliation of the world, and we will be blessed and be a blessing to others as we work to give a foretaste of God’s final victory.

In the months following that class, as I contemplated what I had learned, it became clearer to me that God wants my life focus to be reconciliation. I don’t know exactly what it will look like as the rest of my life unfolds, but I’m trying to be intentional about making sure my daily activities promote that over-arching purpose, in myself, my family, my church, and my community. This goal is reflected in my blog name, “Ambassador of Reconciliation,” and in the purpose statement for my blog:

Challenging the Church to embrace God’s grand plan of reconciliation on every level—
to be reconciled to God, to one another, and to ourselves

I want to be on board with Jesus in His work as described in Isaiah 61:1-3:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

God’s purpose for you will include those aspects of His will that apply to all believers, and also a special calling to the unique work He has planned for you, which will be different from mine and everyone else’s. I would encourage each of you to search the Scriptures to find God’s will for all Christians and to ask Him to show you His particular purpose for your life. As Paul puts it,

Live life, then, with a due sense of responsibility, not as men who do not know the meaning and purpose of life but as those who do. Make the best use of your time, despite all the difficulties of these days. Don’t be vague but firmly grasp what you know to be the will of God (Eph. 5:15-17, Phillips).

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[1]Dillow, Linda. Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Contentment. NavPress, © 1998, 2007.

[2]Covey, Stephen. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Free Press, © 1989.

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