After all, aren’t we all looking for purpose?
The last thoughts of a teenager with a little bottle of white pills relate to purpose. How they never found it.
The last thoughts of a martyr tied to a stake relate to purpose. How they found it and are willing to give everything for it.
Your last thoughts will relate to purpose. Your entire life centers around purpose. Because in the end, it’s all that matters. The question is, will you have regrets?
The teenager who just took his own life may have heard at some point that God loves him. But for some reason, it didn’t make a difference. Why?
Because it doesn’t matter that God loves us if he leaves us there.
You see, we’re used to telling people that God loves them and can forgive their sins as if it’s the end of the story. But it’s really only the beginning.
Here are some questions to think about. You already know the answer because I already gave it to you. (My first draft of this post started with the questions and made me sound slightly heretical, so I thought it would have more impact if I introduced it a different way.) But think about it from the perspective of how you grew up, or what you’ve always believed. Have you ever asked these questions? Or was it too dangerous to ask these questions, in case you couldn’t find the answer?
Does it matter that God loves us? Does it really make a difference?
What is grace, anyway? What has it done for you? Or is it just some abstract concept of God’s love that you talk about without really understanding why?
If we’re “sharing Christ” with someone to “bring them to salvation”, what does that even mean? Why should they care? Why do they need the love of some intangible, invisible being they can’t fathom?
Because God doesn’t love us just to love us. If that’s all there is, our lives will still be…empty. If the story ends with “God loves you”, it doesn’t matter. It’s meaningless.
Last fall, I almost gave up on my faith. A lot of you don’t know that about me. Now you do. You’re welcome.
There were a lot of factors that contributed to this, and I don’t have the time to go into all of them now, but essentially I began to focus on all the little issues and to let them distract me from what was really going on. How do you interpret this passage of the Bible? How are we supposed to make it relevant for today? What was right and wrong? Was anything right or wrong? I wrote in my journal, “How is it even possible to live as a Christian in this day and age? I’m starting to think it’s not. Maybe it’s all just some big joke.”
I was totally lost. I felt like nothing mattered. But nobody could know that, oh no. I was Miss Blog Queen and the one everyone depended on for the right answers. So for several months I stopped praying, I stopped reading my Bible, but I kept going to church like a zombie and tried to feel my way through the darkness that had become my life.
In December, something clicked again. I was thinking about the 10 commandments, specifically “Do not take the Lord’s name in vain.” All of a sudden, I was like, “I know that doesn’t just mean swearing.” I wrote this blog post. Things didn’t turn around overnight, but that was definitely one of the turning points because I realized that there is something bigger going on here. In the end, it wasn’t about the little things. There was a big picture. There was a big story. There was a purpose.
There is a happy ending to this story, by the way. By the very end of December, I was desperate for truth. Desperate for purpose. Praying for God to change me no matter what it took. He answered that prayer with Passion, right after New Year’s. And without telling my entire testimony, I’ll just say that Passion radically changed me. That was the defining time that I can point to and say that I have never looked back since then. Because I found my place in the bigger story.
You see, I knew all along that God loved me. But that in itself was not enough to make a difference. I was a pretty good person anyway; did I need grace that desperately?
Because grace is far more than Jesus coming to save us from a stolen piece of candy or a swear word. In the words of Dr. Lavender, “Jesus came to rescue you from the brokenness of a misdirected life. It’s not about, you know, thinking the wrong things while you’re eating a cracker. It’s about fulfilling the purpose for which you were created.”
After all, aren’t we all looking for purpose? We’re looking for purpose because we lost it a long time ago, back in the Garden of Eden. And God won’t fit into your story because you were made to fit into HIS! This whole time God has been working to restore creation back to the purpose for which he created it. Forgiveness of sin is not an end in itself but a means to an end: God gives us grace to return us to what we were made to be.
And it is absolutely vital that we understand this. We need to understand it first for ourselves. Where do we fit into the bigger story? How do all these little moments of our lives work together to actually mean something?
And once we understand that, we have to relearn how to evangelize. We’re not just bringing people to salvation — what is salvation? We’re not just towing them into church — what is church? We’re helping them recover their purpose in God’s story — because what is salvation but restoration? What is church but the embodiment of God’s mission?
Your entire life centers around purpose. Because in the end, it’s all that matters. The question is, will you have regrets?