Family Matters Part 1: For the Purposes of Love
We all need to have purpose and meaning but often as we get older we find that something is missing. We find that pursuing these things still leaves us feeling empty. It can be even worse if we succeed – some of the saddest stories are found in the lives of people with all the fame, wealth, celebrity and power in the world and yet die early, lonely, bitter and empty.
1.Accept your purpose and revel in it! God’s purpose for us when fulfilled brings about a great many benefits – the fruits of the Spirit (including love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. ...and, oh yes, eternal life in heaven! On balance, do you think these benefits worth pursuing, or do you just want the money? Or fame, or just “happiness”? Isn’t happiness trumped by joy – just one of the many fruits of the Holy Spirit?
2. Accept Jesus – and express your thanks in a life lived for God’s purpose.
Might there be a higher purpose for us? Have you ever wondered for what purpose were we put on this Earth? Why are we here? For what purpose?
Have you found your purpose? Have you looked for your purpose? Even if you’ve looked, it can prove hard to find and so we grope around for it! To borrow a phrase from the comedian Rowan Atkinson – “It is like a blind man, in a dark room, looking for a black cat… that isn’t there!” Have you found your purpose? Would you know it if you found it?
I think we’re hard-wired to crave purpose and meaning in life whether we realise it or not and often we grope around searching for things like money, fame, power and happiness – instead of searching first to discover what our purpose really IS. Only when we know this can we be sure we’re looking in the right place for the right thing – and set about fulfilling our true purpose.
All too many people think their purpose is to GET THINGS only to find them elusive and unfulfilling even if they DO attain them. They just don’t know what their purpose is. They don’t know WHY they are here in the first place.
Jesus was once asked what the most important of God’s commandments is and he answered in a way that gives us a clue about our purpose in life. Here’s what he said according to Matthew, one of his first followers - you can read this here.
Another of Jesus’s followers, Paul, wrote a letter to the early church in Rome and in that letter he talks openly about God’s purpose for humanity – or at least for those who love him. You can read this passage here.
With all this in mind, our purpose as a church is this – 'To love God, to love people and to grow together to become more like Jesus.'
Why are we here? Because God wants a relationship of love with us. We are here for the purposes of love. For the purposes of God, who is love.
He made us in His image for that purpose of a loving relationship and Jesus came to make that relationship possible by bridging the gap between us in our sinfulness and God in his unspeakable holiness.
By the Holy Spirit he conforms us, changes and moulds us, to become more like Jesus who frees us from sin, and less and less like the people who are enslaved by sin. (Yes, we have free will to choose what we do, but we’re in bondage to sin – what we want to do, is sin! But by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirt and in His good timing, he conforms us into the image of Christ. So we become more like Jesus, who perfectly loves the Father and perfectly models love for others. We’re enabled by God to fulfil our purpose.
Only God, through the Holy Spirit can change us to be more like Jesus. Well, if it’s all up to God, you might wonder why we need to know all this stuff! Well there are one or two things we need to do “on purpose”!
Given God’s love for us – as most profoundly expressed on the cross – what do you think the proper response is to this God who first loves us so intensely, so undeservedly? Given the wrong things we do, do you really think you deserve God’s amazing love?
Sometimes we do realise or at least get a glimpse of just how sinful we are and we feel terrible. We feel a million miles from deserving God’s love. We feel utterly unworthy. Here’s the revelation – we are utterly unworthy! At our absolute best, we’re unworthy! And yet in his awesome love, Jesus invites us in and allows us to share in his worthiness, his perfect righteousness! I imagine a conversation like this:
Jesus says: “Give me all your sin and hold this for me would you?”
“What is it Lord?”
“It’s my righteousness.”
“The world”, the God-rejecting world, would have you chase shadows – happiness, fame, money and the rest. Chasing shadows. You will never be fulfilled with those things because you are not made to be fulfilled by them! You may as well feed the cat with birdseed!
Every other religion would have you earn heaven somehow. It can’t be done. Just accept that and accept Jesus as the only way. When you’re at your best, just love God and thank him and work that thanks out by loving people. When you’re at your worst just thank God and lift your head and love him and plod on with love for other people. Until he lifts you out of the valley and onto the mountain-top again.
How? Firstly, It has to be by accepting Jesus – that’s the one critical thing you must do on purpose. And that acceptance of Jesus – a real acceptance – is the start of the rest of your life, in which God shapes and moulds those who love him such that they become like Jesus, who perfectly loves God and loves people.
Have you ever thought about – deeply thought about – what your purpose in life is?
Why, would you say, are you even here on the planet? For what purpose?
Do you think you can ever earn or deserve God’s love and Jesus’s sacrifice?
What might be the proper response to God who created you and wants a loving relationship with you?
HOW can you express – and develop - your love for God?
HOW can you demonstrate – and grow - your love for people?
Can you think of any better way to spend your life than in seeking to love God and love people?