United Church of God, ia
Portland and Hood River Oregon

Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

What is Your Ultimate Purpose in Life?

Many things can get you down—trials and difficulties that get in the way of a vibrant life. But all that begins to fade away when you discover your ultimate purpose in life!

I was in a group of friends recently who were discussing how stressed they were by the news. There was yet another Christian beheaded by ISIS militants. More politicians who offer no real solutions. Rampant health care issues. Then there are constant money worries—not to mention increasing violence, racism and the bizarre fixation people have with gender identity.

This stress is compounded by the speed of electronic information, advances in technology and constant changes in social norms. It's unbelievable how many people are willing to change the definition of marriage that has been the bedrock of the Christian family for thousands of years.

The result is that many people, no matter their age or economic status, live in a "personal bubble." We try to stay in this bubble by concentrating on our own immediate pursuit of happiness. We can then pretend that all the chaos and changes are outside the bubble and "don't really affect me."

Then reality strikes. Bad news, or some negative personal problem breaks that bubble and we are overwhelmed with anxiety, fear and a sense that there is no meaning to life.

God doesn't want you to live that way! He has something better for you.

I want to share with you a remarkable truth that few people know. It's a truth that can change everything in your life. I'd like to help you discover your ultimate purpose in life.

The purpose of life is not just to be happy

Your life is worth more than you ever imagined! You have a very specific purpose in the universe. The problem is discovering that purpose. It goes against the social programming you and I have experienced since childhood. We have been programmed to believe that the ultimate purpose in life is the pursuit of happiness.

I'm not saying that happiness is bad. We all want to be happy. Happiness is a gift from God.

But something happens to us when we believe that happiness is the only purpose in life. One result is that when we face job issues, health problems, conflicts in relationships, or when we watch the latest news story about terrorism, the fleeting feelings of happiness dissolve and we mentally and emotionally break down.

Albert Einstein said, "A life directed chiefly towards the fulfillment of personal desires will sooner or later always leads to bitter disappointment" (Letter to T. Lee, Jan. 16, 1954).

What happens when the bubble of happiness is burst by your boyfriend dumping you? What happens when you lose your job? What happens to happiness when you find out your best friend has cancer?

These kinds of difficult experiences are out of our control. The happiness bubble is broken, and what's left is stress, grief and sadness.

But living a life with your ultimate purpose in mind gives you a chance to live beyond your own limitations—to love, sacrifice and give to others. Finding a life of meaning, of purpose, is the secret to dealing with stress and anxiety and hopelessness that can engulf our everyday lives.

So where do you go to discover your personal purpose? The answer isn't found in an aptitude test, college class or discovering your inner "god" or "goddess." If there is a purpose to this life, we must find the answer with the Creator of life.

God reveals our ultimate purpose in the Bible

The Bible is the story of everything. It's about creation—and the Creator who made it all. It's about God's desire for children of His own—and humanity's desire to be independent from our Creator. It's the story of how Jesus Christ, the Son of god, is working to bring us back to the Creator's family.

The Bible is about how you personally have a very specific purpose in the universe.

The apostle John wrote about that purpose:

"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God . . . Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure" (1 John 3:1-3).

Let's look at three remarkable statements the apostle John makes in these verses.

First: "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!"

God created each of us for a reason. He gave each of us free will. The problem with free will is that we all make bad choices.

You and I live in a world where billions of people make wrong choices every day.

The only way we can ever get out of this mess is to return to our Creator and discover our original purpose. That purpose is to be His children.

We can see this in his second point:

"Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."

At the very beginning of the Bible, in the book of Genesis, it states that human beings were made in the image of God. Thousands of years later John wrote that those who respond to God's call are offered a future in which we will be "like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."

John wrote that we don't know exactly what we'll be like in this promised future, but we will be like God, just as human children are like their human parents—the same kind of beings. The reason we don't know exactly what we'll be like is that our human minds cannot fully comprehend the infinite God. But again, He intends for us to be just like Him!

Can you begin to wrap your mind around your ultimate purpose?

The third point of this passage gives daily direction to this awesome purpose: "And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." This means that to fulfill God's purpose you must do something. We'll discuss this point a little later.

Our ultimate purpose is that God created human beings in His image because He wants children to live with Him forever! Not as pets. Not as angels. But as beings who are made in His image—immortal beings who are like Him. This purpose involves an awesome, unbelievable future. It also involves your life right now.

Living your ultimate purpose starts today

The apostle John wrote that we are now the children of God. What does that mean?

Yes, God is offering you a future, but He is also offering you a fulfilling, meaningful life right now. You can have a relationship with God as your Father every day of your life.

God wants to have a personal one-on-one relationship with you. The ultimate meaning in this life is about your relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ. It's about being God's child now while looking forward to the promised future.

Regrettably, this good news gets muddled in much Christian preaching today. All too often Christian pulpits preach a health-and-wealth gospel, a cheap grace, a message of "Jesus loves you just the way you are" that leaves people remaining just the way they are and not becoming more like Jesus.

Remember what God inspired Jeremiah to write:

"Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:12-13).

You must stop seeking your own purpose by attempting to stay in a bubble of pursuing your self-determined purpose and seek God's purpose with all of your heart.

Understanding God as a family

When you accept this purpose, God truly becomes your Father. I've talked with many people over the years who have a difficult time relating to God as a Father because of abuse they experienced or the absence of their physical father. It may take some serious prayer and Bible study time—time contemplating how God is the perfect Father—before you can really come to experience Him as Father.

There is another relationship that can help you in understanding how you can be a child in God's family. It's explained in the New Testament book of Hebrews:

"Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself [Jesus Christ] likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Jesus Christ came to the earth to become like "the children"—meaning like you and me—to share in our experience as flesh and blood so that He can release us from death and give us eternal life.

The Bible reveals Jesus in His many roles—Messiah, Savior, Lord, Master, High Priest—and here as our Brother.

Do you ever feel too overwhelmed to approach the awesome God, who may seem so far, so great, so perfect, that you think, "Why would He even listen to me?" Remember that you have a Brother who sits at the right hand of the Father who helps bring you to Him.

God is an incredible family—and your Father and your Elder Brother are dedicated to helping you be a part of it.

Your part to play

If you want God's purpose for your life to become your purpose, then there is something you must do.

Your ultimate purpose has been given to you by your Creator. Nobody can make you accept that purpose. Many people, when they hear this message, will simply walk away from it.

But if you want God's purpose for you, what should you do?

The apostle Paul answered that very question in his letter to the Church in Ephesus: "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children" (Ephesians 5:1).

There was no part-time or convenient Christianity for Paul. He taught that true Christianity is nothing less than trying to walk like our Father, act like our Father and think like our Father—to be "imitators" of our Father.

When I was a young teenager I walked into a hardware store in a small town and a man came up to me and asked, "You're Grover Petty's grandson, aren't you?" When I said yes, he proceeded to tell me how I looked like my grandfather.

The ultimate compliment anyone can give you is for someone to say: "You're a Christian, aren't you? I could tell—you act a lot like your Father."

If you want God's purpose in your life then your Christianity must be more than singing a few praises and throwing some money into the offering plate. Again, Paul said that we are to be "imitators of God as dear children." You must see yourself as someone whom God sees as a dear, precious, beloved child—a child who desires to be like his Father.

Paul then writes:

"And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma" (verse 2).

There are two things needed for a person to be a true child of God. First, you must accept that because of your bad choices and corrupt human nature, you are a distorted image of God. You need God's forgiveness, and that forgiveness is offered by God through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Paul continues:

"But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God" (verses 3-5).

What is Paul actually saying?

With free will, any of us has the ability to refuse God's offer and live for our own self-centered purpose. There's a terrible price for refusing God's purpose—it is God's rejection of your being part of His family.

Listen to verses 6-8:

"Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light."

But how can any of us actually imitate God? How can we walk as children of light? We're too weak, too limited, too confused. It's not possible to be an imitator of God on your own intelligence, power of spiritual insight.

Earlier I showed that the first step in having God fulfill His purpose is to seek Him with all of your heart. You must accept that you need Him and that you are a distorted image of God. It is then that you can submit to the work of Jesus Christ as your divine Brother.

The next step is receiving power from God to have His purpose fulfilled in your life.

The apostle Peter spoke to a large crowd and told them about the work God is doing through Jesus Christ. When many people were moved to seek God with their hearts, Peter told them to repent, be baptized and receive the indwelling of God's Spirit (Acts 2:38).

If you don't know what it means to repent or have never been baptized, you need to read the Gospels.

Your life is worth more than you ever imagined! You have a very specific purpose in the universe. But you have a choice in that. The truth is that you don't have to respond to God's purpose. You can just keep going on the way you have been and ignore God's calling to be His child.

But be warned: Jesus told a parable about a man who invited people to a big banquet. The man spared no expense in preparing something that would be the absolute best for his guests. But when the man sent his servant to invite the guests, one by one they gave excuses for not being able to attend.

The excuses seemed like good reasons to the people involved: "I need to take care of my property." "I have a lot of work to get done." "I just got married and need to spend more time with my wife."

What the man was offering his guests was much more wonderful than what they wanted for their lives, but they lived in their little bubbles, selfishly pursuing happiness. They missed out. The host eventually rejected those whom he invited and asked others to attend his banquet instead.

God is offering you His best. He wants you to realize His ultimate purpose for you—to live as His child now and to be changed into His spiritual image forever in His Kingdom. He wants you to make His purpose your purpose.

Begin to realize your ultimate purpose now!

Will you seize God's gift? Will you accept the invitation? Or will you find an excuse to pass it by?

In the light of what God is offering you, I have one simple question for you to answer: Are you willing to give up everything to receive everything God wants for you? God wants to give you a meaningful, fulfilling life. He wants to help you when you face difficult times. He wants you to have a more meaningful relationship with Him as your Father. If not you—who? If not now—when?

You and I were born to receive incredible spiritual power from God. It's the power to overcome the suffering and problems of this life and be imitators of God.

You and I were born to fulfill our original, ultimate purpose—to be children of God who are like Him as immortal, divine beings, living forever with Him in His Kingdom.

Your life is worth more than you ever imagined! Now is the time to give up everything to become everything God wants you to be.

Where do you start in building a deep relationship with God? We've prepared an eye opening study guide titled Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion. And for more on your ultimate purpose, be sure to read What is Your Destiny? Download or request a free copy of both today from our website: www.GNmagazine.org/booklets

- Gary Petty

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