What Is Our Purpose?
Purpose (noun). The reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.
What is our reason for existing, our purpose? Knowing where we are going, our vision, and knowing who we are, our identity leads to knowing what we must do, our purpose. Doing what we were made to do as a community and as individuals is what we will investigate this weekend.
1 Peter 2: 4-9
Matthew 28: 16-19
Speaking Notes – Caveat
These are speaking notes and are provided as a replacement due to a recording failure. Please accept that they are not intended to be a published grammatically correct essay. I do hope and pray however they help you move towards Jesus.
Now on to the content…
VIP Vision, Identity and Purpose these are the three key words that we have been exploring as a church to help us focus on our spiritual journey together.
We have already looked at Vision. We have seen that we need a vision of the future for ourselves as individuals and also for our church. We need to have a corporate vision of how we continue to ‘DO and BE’ church here in Bedhampton. The thing is, that if we have no God inspired aspirations, hopes or yearnings for the future life of this church then we could just be going round in circles and not be headed anywhere and not be fulfilling the purpose that God created us for. We might as well be just a social club which exists simply for its own members. Archbishop William Temple said that “The Church is the only institution that exists primarily for the benefit of those who are not its members.” And that is what God intends the church to be.
We have also explored our Identity. We are sons and daughters of God, God’s own beloved children. Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and his rising from the dead we can know God as our Father and Jesus as our friend, brother, our shepherd, our Redeemer, our King and our great High Priest. When we put our trust in Jesus, and all that he has accomplished for us by removing the sin that separated us from God, then we can have a personal relationship with Him. He gives us the Holy Spirit. “The spirit of sonship!” “And by Him we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8: 15a –16.)
Our theme for this week is Purpose. Max has already given us a dictionary meaning of the word which helps us to begin thinking about this subject. “The reason for which something is done or created, or for which something exists.”
God created us, all humanity, for a relationship with him. We know from Genesis chapter 1 verse 31 that after all things were created “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Not just Ok or mediocre but VERY GOOD! Adam and Eve had a close relationship with God in the Garden of Eden but we all know what happened. God’s enemy and our enemy, the serpent, the evil one, he was there too. He got them to sin by eating the forbidden fruit and by believing that they didn’t need God. And because of their sin God shut them out of the garden. Ever since then human beings have continued to reject and rebel against God, they reject “the chosen and precious corner stone, Jesus God’s son” 1 Peter 2: 6b and like Adam and Eve they prefer to go their own way instead of God’s way. “They stumble because they disobey the message” 1 Peter 2: 8b – God’s word.
The people of Israel in the OT had a relationship with God too but it was through intermediaries especially the priests who made animal sacrifices for sin for them at the tabernacle, then later at the temple when it was built. God’s purpose was always from the very beginning of creation, to have a people he could call his own. At the right time he sent Jesus into the world to bear on the cross, the whole weight of the world’s sin.
Jesus came to show us the way back to our Father in heaven. He showed us how we should live. Jesus came and took the punishment that was mine and yours. “Once we were not a people, but now we are the people of God; once we had not received mercy but now we have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:10 When we are born again to the new life that we have in Jesus, when the Holy Spirit dwells in us then we have peace with God and we are fulfilled.
We are given a sense of belonging, a new godly love for others especially our brothers and sisters in Christ, our church families and those that don’t yet know God. And our desire will be to bring joy and honour to our heavenly Father by serving him and serving others.
It is then we see our purpose and the reason for our existence. Everything somehow becomes clear.
I believe there is a God shaped hole that is in all of us and that it so often gets filled with anything that stops the aching and longing that is actually the aching and longing for God. St Augustine said “God has made us for himself and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in God.” Everyone is looking for something that gives meaning, direction and purpose in their life. And those who have accepted and come to Jesus our Saviour “the living stone” 1 Peter 2: 4, find that their aching and longing diminish as they live in close communion with Him.
I was reminded when I was preparing this sermon of the time at least 20 years ago that a friend of mine was working in market research. She asked me if I would like to go to Nuremberg, Germany for two days to take part in a survey for Ford fiesta owners, to go to their factory to help them in a survey about the new development and design of their new fiesta! I was enthusiastic about going as it was a weekend and Colin would be able to look after the children and it was free!! What I had to do was look at lots of designs and drawings of cars and then sit at a computer and fill in the survey.
Now I loved my fiesta and as I looked at the drawings of the new one I didn’t like the new shape! So when it came to doing the survey I kept choosing the option for keeping things just the way they were!!! So much so that everybody else finished their survey long before I did. I was completely absorbed with keeping the car as I wanted. It became obvious to me that the new fiesta was not going to look anything like the one I owned and liked so much and felt comfortable with.
I tried to resist that ’computer programme’ and nearly missed out on the trip around Nuremberg which was a reward for taking part in the survey. I realise now that manufacturers of cars are always seeking to build something new and I really wasn’t helpful to them because I was happy with my car the way it was.
Recalling this experience made me think about God and his desires and purposes for our church and also us as individuals. We as Christians and members of this church may at times resist change and new beginnings if we think it will affect us in a negative way. We may cling to familiar patterns of behaviour and ways of doing things which make us feel comfortable. But when we do we may miss out on something that God wants to bless us with.
God is always doing something new and we would be foolish to resist him. The way we have always done things is not a good argument for continuing doing them. Isaiah 43: verses 18&19. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”
After Jesus’ resurrection and at his ascension to heaven he gave to his disciples in his parting words what is commonly known as the great commission. We heard his words in the short reading from Matthew chapter 28. “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Here we have the reason for the existence of the church and its purpose. Those first disciples obeyed and because of their obedience and loyalty, their enthusiasm and love of Jesus and his gospel, the good news has been preached ever since. And millions of people’s lives over the centuries, including ours have been transformed by the love of God brought to them by faithful disciples of Jesus.
And the job isn’t finished yet. We have heard it and we cannot ignore it. We in this generation and in this time are also charged with the same commission. This is our purpose and our goal and the reason for our existence that we must share the good news with those around us, with our friends, our family and our neighbours, all whom we meet. It is our God given responsibility for this generation. We are the church, each one of us is “a living stone created by God to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to him through Jesus. “ 1 Peter 2:5
We gather in this building as followers of Christ,” a chosen people, a royal priesthood” 1 Peter 2:9, to hear and respond to God’s word to encourage and bless one another and then we go out, commissioned to live out our faith in our community for the remainder of the week and for the rest of our lives.
“Christ has no body now but ours. No hands, no feet on earth but ours. Ours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Ours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Ours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Ours are the hands, ours are the feet, ours are the eyes, we are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but ours.”