Life Meetings | Some Thoughts on Purpose
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Some Thoughts on Purpose

Some Thoughts on Purpose

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In a recent conversation with a couple of young adults, the question “are purpose and career one and the same?” was raised. Instead of giving a short answer, I opted for a more elaborate response as follows:
“And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to Him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” – Revelation 4:9-11
Purpose is simply the original intent in the heart of a creator towards His creation. There is a popular notion within the general conversation on purpose which suggests that every person has a uniquely different, individual purpose, and which I dare say, if we do speak in absolute terms, is a fundamentally deceptive and scripturally untrue proposition that has confused many. “for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created”. The purpose of every creature of God is simply to please Him (to give Him pleasure). Purpose is not complicated. What differs from person to person are the unique paths that we are led to take in the various areas of our lives in order to fulfil our identical, singular purpose. Different times and seasons come to each of us in our education, career, ministry, marriage, relationships, etc. and with each season, a specific revelation about what constitutes the pleasure (will) of God for that particular time. Some seasons come with seemingly big decisions to make such as deciding what career to pursue, while other seasons come with seemingly smaller decisions such as deciding where to spend your vacation, or whether it is wise to purchase a new pair of shoes, but for a Christian, the means of arriving at a right decision is the same in all cases.
I would first like to point out, although quite obviously, that no person is one thing. Paul of Tarsus, for example (I use Paul as an example here because he was referenced in the discussion that inspired this writing), became an apostle of Christ to the gentiles because he found it was within the spectrum of God’s perfect will for a season in his life for him to play that role and he received a specific mandate from God concerning this. But an apostle is not all that Paul was. He was also a man, a believer, a student, a mentor, a spiritual father, a writer, a tent maker, etc. I believe It would be erroneous to elevate any of these roles above the others because attempting to do so would be suggesting that we know which of these roles pleased God the most, which would be dangerous ground because “His thoughts are not our thoughts” and “He uses the foolish things of this World to confound the wise”. God actually seems to take great pleasure in the most humble things. I strongly believe that we must all strive to the place where our activities on the earth are constantly governed by divine revelation. The essence of divine revelation is the unveiling of the pleasure of God to the human heart, without which humanity in all its effort and exertion would be functionally useless to God. Jesus said “My food (the satisfaction of my soul) is to do the will of my Father and to finish it”. The “will of my father” here is not used in a definite article sense. To paraphrase, Jesus was saying “my satisfaction at every instant of my life is to be in the perfect will of my father”. We also know that the Father declared of Jesus on more than one occasion “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased”, which was no surprise as the prophet Isaiah had prophesied concerning Him that “the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand”. Jesus as the Son of Man is a complete revelation of the entire essence of man.
Many believers today have not been raised with the consciousness that the central preoccupation of the christian life is learning the pleasure of God, and this takes time. In this generation, we are seeing two weak christian cultures springing up; on one hand we have the needs-based christianity where believers almost only see their faith as a means to have their needs met, forgetting that God wasn’t made for us but we were made for Him. You can imagine how lost people who are trying to figure out their purpose within such a christian culture are. On the opposite extreme is the culture that is centered primarily around causes such as ‘giving back’, ‘reaching the lost’, helping others, showing ‘love’, etc. without the centrality of a desperate, burning desire to know God intimately, forgetting that “God is love” and “He that loveth not knoweth not God”, meaning that true love is a necessary product of the knowledge of God. There is also the error of not understanding the distinction between believing in Christ and getting to know who we have believed. Too many believers stop at believing and never become knowers, whereas believing in Christ is supposed to be an initiation into the vocation of knowing and pleasing God.
Paul, in his early years as an apostle, in his letter to the Philippians made such statements as “that I may know Him…”, and “I count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord”; these statements provide an insight into Paul’s primary preoccupation at the time. We see however that years later, in his last writing, in which he declares “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”, he also says “I know Whom I have believed…”. Knowing God is a journey that is co-requisite to fulfilling our singular purpose. In the same chapter of the Philippian epistle, Paul also makes reference to “the high calling of God in Christ” of which if you read within the context of the entire letter you’ll realise he wasn’t referring to his apostolic calling, he was referring to something higher. The people who will be called “workers of iniquity” in that day are those who hit the ground running in their Christian walk without taking time to get acquainted with God enough to know how He ought to be pleased. To most of these He will say “…I never knew you”. It took Jesus himself thirty years in the flesh, under the tutelage of the Spirit to perfect the pleasure of God. In the 13th chapter of the book of Acts, it was “while they were worshipping the Lord and fasting” that the Holy Ghost said “Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them”. I don’t think they were fasting for anything specific when the Holy Ghost spoke, it seems like they were just worshipping the Lord as they often did, then a specific instruction came from the Spirit. This is often how the leading of the Spirit concerning most specifics of life comes to us, including career direction, relationships, ministry, even things as minor as whether to have breakfast or not. When God is the focus, clarity and direction comes naturally and in due time.
There is a wide variety of books, sermons and seminars these days about finding purpose but very few emphasize the importance of spending significant amounts of time in fellowship and communion with the Spirit of God and in God’s Word to know the true nature of His heart and what exactly He requires of us. Although most of these resources on purpose are authored by renowned Pastors and ministers, I have discerned the content of many of them to be products of the “wisdom of this world”, not “the wisdom which the Holy Ghost teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual”. The wisdom of the world always tends to inordinately magnify the importance of human productivity, the exertion of human ability and talent, and natural achievement. It also almost always directly relates purpose with career, ministry, playing a role in making the world a better place, etc. whereas in God’s eyes, the world and all that is in it is passing away along with all the ephemeral plans, purposes, and pursuits of men. Purpose is not something that believers should spend a lot of time trying to figure out because it is not that complicated – our purpose is to spend our lives searching out the pleasure of God and doing it.
When most believers ask “How can I discover my purpose?”, what they are actually asking is “how do I find direction for my life?”. Most are asking this question because of a deep sense of dissatisfaction with where they are in their lives, which I believe is usually a resultant of the combination of at least two factors. First is the projection of the broadly accepted definition of what a purposeful life should look like. I won’t go into too much detail describing this because I believe we know this definition. This is the default image of purpose projected by the world that is usually characterized by someone applying their gifts and talents in some sort of vocation. A person who has not been cultured by truth can easily be weighed down by the projection of this definition of purpose on to their minds from their environment, especially if they feel deeply that they do not have as fine an array of skills and talents as their environment demands. The second factor is the true feeling of emptiness and void that is present in the heart and soul of every person who has not been sufficiently acquainted with their creator. Unlike the first which can be easily satisfied by vocational or career success, this sense of dissatisfaction which is a result of lack of acquaintance with God can only be satisfied by a deep, intimate knowledge of Him. The bottom line is that you will never know whether you are truly pleasing God until you get to know Him deeply, and you will not be satisfied with a chosen life direction until you are fully confident that God is heading in the same direction with you.
A very important question we should ask ourselves regularly in whatever endeavour our body or soul is engaged in is “am I pleasing God?”. If the truthful answer is “yes”, continue whatever you’re doing as passionately and unapologetically as you can. If the answer is “No”, which usually means you know the right thing that you should be doing, then stop, repent, and begin heading in the right direction. The answer will however on many occasions be “I’m not sure” or “I don’t know”; this should not throw you into confusion or into an endless journey to discover your purpose. The fact that there are still unknowns in our lives should be a constant driving force to press more into God and to have Him reveal more of Himself and His desires to us. From both spiritual knowledge and personal experience, I can confidently say that If you decide to embark on the glorious, mostly pleasurable, but sometimes painful, life-long journey of discovering God, you will find that navigating through life will be as easy as the birds of the air knowing which direction to travel every season.
My intention with this response, as you might have perceived, is not merely to provide an exact answer to the initial question, but rather, I hope to stir up a deeper conversation in our hearts about a fundamental premise in the general conversation on purpose. Most times we do not find the correct answers to the most important questions in life because we begin with the wrong proposition. The devil’s ‘genius’ is his ability to define the main proposition without us realizing that he is even involved in the conversation, and many of the teachers of our generation have fallen prey to the ‘evil genius’ on this subject. The only sure way to steer clear of his trap is to bring all our learning under the governance of the Spirit of truth.

AUTHOR - Jefferson Tokurah

  • Funbi Aboderin

    Thank you so much sir I really loved this

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"And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things" - Isaiah 25:6