Why do we exist? We have a purpose in life linked to God's great project. Once we discover this, we realize our lives matter and that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. Knowing and serving this purpose gives our life focus, meaning, and joy.
Our purpose is linked with God's purpose to establish shalom in the world. Shalom is the rich Hebrew word for a peaceable order with collective abundance, security, and justice throughout all creation. It's the universal wholeness God seeks to restore on earth.
Jesus knew and served his own purpose. He sums it up in these words: "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). John describes God's abundant life that Jesus brought in terms of freedom, love, and peace. In the last recorded conversations Jesus has with his friends, he says that he wants them to enjoy and extend this life (John 15:1–16; 20:21).
In short, this is also our purpose—to enjoy and extend God's abundant life.
Enlarging this in terms of John's gospel, our purpose in life is to enjoy and extend God's abundant life of freedom, love, and peace.
We all have a common purpose in life. How we serve this varies from person to person. We each have a personal mission in God's project. In the Bible, we see a whole cast of characters, each playing their part in serving their mission.
Consider the particular mission of a few of God's people:
- Moses—to free the Hebrews
- Esther—to save the Jews
- Nehemiah—to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem
- Jeremiah—to restore hope among the exiles
- Mary—to bear Jesus into the world
- Luke—to tell the story of Jesus and the church
- Paul—to share the gospel to Gentiles
These people played prominent roles serving their purpose in life. But most characters in God's story are never named. If they are, they receive only honor- able mention. Like Joseph—the carpenter and husband of Mary—who simply did what God asked of him. Over forty people are named in the genealogy of Jesus. Some are well known, others not. Some are virtuous, others not. Most of us fall in the "others" category. Nevertheless, we too, in the legacy of Jesus, have a part to play in serving our purpose.
Read the other reflections in Living that Matters: Honest Conversations for Men of Faith, which serves as a men's guide for conversation and reflection and includes 70 topics, for use by individuals or groups. Order Living that matters: Honest Conversations for Men of Faith HERE.