What is my purpose in life? What does God want me to do?
Over the summer I asked students, via Facebook, to suggest some topics for study this fall. One student asked those questions, and they seemed like the perfect lead-in to the entire semester. So last night at CSF we tackled those questions.
My answer was simply – your purpose is to become more like Jesus.
I recall being in college and constantly thinking about my future career, who I would marry, whether I would marry anyone, where I would live and so on. Behind all of this was the question, what does God want in these things? I often prayed, asking God for answers. When I spoke to the students last night, I shared that while I think God does care about such things, and we ought to pray about them, they are secondary things. We run into trouble when we make secondary things – jobs, relationships – into primary things.
We all share the same common purpose, to become more like Jesus. But what does that mean? The story of scripture is a good place to start: God created a good creation and placed humans in it to care for it and to live in relationship with God and one another. The first humans turned away from this purpose and all creation became broken and diseased. It makes me think of my backyard: it would be like me going away and leaving a student in charge of my backyard. While I am gone this student, instead of caring for it, doesn’t water the plants, leaves the dog poop laying around and for good measure throws rocks on top of my flowers.
Immediately after God’s world become corrupted, we read that God mounted a rescue operation. God chose the people of Israel to be agents in restoring creation to God. In the story of scripture we see the Israelites, who are charged with bringing healing, are actually infected with the virus too. So they are unable to fully live out the mission God gave them. Into this situation stepped Jesus, the true Israelite who does live out that mission. Even though the powers that be kill Jesus, God raised him from the dead. This resurrection is the vindication, showing that Jesus’ way of life is the way to live.
So as we become like Jesus we are called to be God’s agents of bringing healing, restoration and salvation into the world. This is our primary purpose and we can do this regardless of whatever else we do in life. You can accomplish this purpose whether married or single, whether in the same job for decades or often promoted.
This makes me think of how we Christians believe Jesus is fully God and fully human. Too often I learned this as simply something to believe so as not to be seen as a heretic. But if it is true it means that the more we become like Jesus, the more human we become. In other words, we are not fully human yet ourselves, our purpose is to get there. And the more we become like Jesus, the more we become like God our Creator (though we’ll never be God of course).
There are steps we can take as we move towards this purpose: making the choice each day to spend time with God, allowing our faith to affect all of our life from our classes to our friendships, and actions we can do to bring healing and restoration right here on campus. As the semester moves forward, we will work through these things together.
The question to end with is: knowing what our purpose is, what are we going to do now?