“Why We Do What We Do” looks at the struggle we have with judging others, finding our purpose, isolating ourselves, and staying stuck. As a community to help us move forward, we emphasize the path forward as the following:
- Come As You Are
- Live Connected
- Be Transformed
- Change Your World
To make the most of the message, be sure to work through the Next Steps.
Here is the audio of the message I shared:
Here are the notes from the message:
So what do we do in a world like this? It is so easy to get overwhelmed by our mad world!
Today we are looking at our struggle to find our God-given purpose. For many, the issue is our struggle to trust God in a world that is so messed up. I want to acknowledge some important things:
- This is a broken and messed up world in which God has given us freedom. He does not force us to follow Him or to live according to His ways. Tragically, it is because of human freedom that so much evil has been done.
- There are horrific things that happen that make no sense AND we will not understand why God allowed some things to happen on this side of eternity.
- God is all-powerful, yet there are times when He allows us to suffer – He allows evil. He says “no” to our desperate prayers.
Here’s where we can find hope:
- There is more to this life than what we see.
- God will one day make all things right.
- We can do something about the evil in this world.
There is much evil in this world. Rather than hide from this broken world, we are called to do something about it!
- We can overcome generational struggles to make the world better for those in our families who come after us.
- Sometimes, God sends us out to be the answer to someone else’s prayer.
- Sometimes, God sends us out to be the answer to our own prayer.
Today we are going to look at how we can find our purpose and help bring God’s Kingdom on heaven here to earth.
We’re in a series called, “Why We Do What We Do.” Last week we looked at the importance of creating a church community so that people can “come as you are.” To do this requires loving others rather than judging others. It requires giving grace to others – no matter where they might be in their journey.
Today we ask, “Why do I struggle with my purpose?” Our first core value is “come as you are” and our final core value is “Change Your World.” Next week we will get into our 2nd core value about Living Connected rather than being isolated and then our 3rd core value will be the week after that as we talk about “Be Transformed” rather than staying stuck.
I wanted to go from our first value to our last value on purpose.
If you are new here, you need to know you can “come as you are” and you need to know we want to help you to become someone who can “change your world.”
You may be thinking: “Change my world!?! I am just trying to keep up with changing my kid’s diapers or change my employees or change my boss!”
Yet deep down, we must realize we long for something more than just getting by and just paying the bills.
The reason we struggle with our purpose is that we get sucked into so many things OR we have trouble seeing beyond ourselves OR we don’t risk anything to love outside of our comfort zones.
As a result, we fail to live out our mission from God.
Back to the Basics
What if we could change our world simply by applying one verse in the Bible to our lives. What if all we had time to do and all we could commit to do was simply live out the Golden Rule?
“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” – Luke 6:31
Listen to the rest of the passage from The Voice version.
32 Listen, what’s the big deal if you love people who already love you? Even scoundrels do that much! 33 So what if you do good to those who do good to you? Even scoundrels do that much! 34 So what if you lend to people who are likely to repay you? Even scoundrels lend to scoundrels if they think they’ll be fully repaid.
35 If you want to be extraordinary—love your enemies! Do good without restraint! Lend with abandon! Don’t expect anything in return! Then you’ll receive the truly great reward—you will be children of the Most High—for God is kind to the ungrateful and those who are wicked. 36 So imitate God and be truly compassionate, the way your Father is. – Luke 6:32-36
Verse 37 begins the passage we looked at last week which reminds us not to judge or condemn but instead forgive.
When was the last time you lived the Golden Rule?
- You saw someone with a need.
- You heard a whisper from God: “Go, Say something, Give.”
- You offered a little of yourself.
It’s the GOLDEN RULE, God’s grand plan for changing the world in its simplest form.
Now, there are variations of the GOLDEN RULE in a variety of other faiths.
For instance, 500 years before Jesus was born, someone asked Confucius, “Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life?” And Confucius said, “Is not reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”
400 years before Christ, a philosopher in Athens taught, “Whatever angers you when you suffer at the hands of others, do not do to others.”
And 20 years before Jesus was born, a young man came to the great Jewish rabbi Hillel and said, “I’m ready to convert to Judaism on one condition — that you teach me the whole Law while I am standing on one leg.” In other words, spare me all the intricate details — if you can’t give me the Cliff Notes, then I’m not interested. So while the student was doing his Karate Kid imitation, Hillel replied: “What is hateful to yourself, do to no other; that is the whole Law.”
Of course, my favorite spiritual quote is from the great theologian, Mr. T. who said: “I believe in the Golden Rule – The Man with the Gold… Rules.”
Do you know what’s weird about most every other religious version of the GOLDEN RULE? It’s framed in the negative. It’s reciprocity. I won’t harm you if you don’t harm me. Religious versions of the GOLDEN RULE call us to be virtuous – to live and let live. They’re passive.
Jesus says, “Let’s go a step further. Love and do good to others, not as an exchange, but because of the love of God in you. Freely you have received, freely give.”
Jesus says: Just love as you go. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
If we did that? God’s kingdom would be evident everywhere!
Once we discover our identity, we can be a powerful force for good in our world.
Unfortunately, we tend to use our powers for selfish gain. That’s our default. That’s the way of this world.
Jesus shows us the way.
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him… – John 13:3-5
In the midst of genuine self-awareness, Jesus chose to serve.
Once you discover your identity, then what do you do when you know who you are, know what you are here to do, and know where you are going?
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. – John 13:6-11
Notice how inclusive Jesus was. Jesus invited into his inner circle someone who could not be trusted – someone who would betray Him. Even Simon Peter seemed to always talk before he thought. When Jesus was under arrest and Peter was tested, he denied He even knew who Jesus was. He cussed at the woman who even asked him the question.
Notice what Jesus does next:
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. – John 13:12-17
How can you “wash the feet” of those around you?
I don’t think the GOLDEN RULE is primarily about going big. Jesus meant it more in terms of a daily basis by meeting needs in other people out of love when we see them.
Here at Gateway, one of our big values is “Change your world.” We considered “Change the World.” We didn’t want this to be a theory but something absolutely do-able.
Here are three simple ways to live out your purpose:
1. Do the good right in front of you.
If you don’t have time to go to the homeless shelter or adopt a little sister, consider: how are you serving the people you see in your life every day? Do you know their story?
As you go throughout your day, look for people in need or GOLDEN RULE opportunities.
Jesus says, don’t get overwhelmed by the needs. Love is as simple as giving a cup of cold water.
This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing. – Matthew 10:41-42
See someone nearby you with compassion and ask, “What’s their immediate need right now? Out of gratitude for what God’s doing in my life, what could I do for them that I would want them to do for me if our situations were reversed?”
Are you doing anything risky in your life as you go, even if it’s a cup of cold water? Even if these encounters cost you some time or resources, just be open to who God brings you. Give encouraging words, pray for someone, offer to pay for something, etc.
2. Create space to be spontaneous.
What is one television show you can give up?
Maybe you can retire from fantasy sports for one season?
We need to trust Jesus when he says, “For whoever wants to find his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will find it” (Mark 8:35).
If we follow Jesus, we need to be willing to day daily to our own desires – to take up our cross daily Jesus says and willingly sacrifice for others!
Jesus says: “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:28
3. Follow promptings.
Too often we Live and Let Live.
We feel like if I don’t commit really obvious sins like adultery, public drunkenness, or stealing then I’m doing my Christian duty. Instead, take a look at what is far and away the most inconvenient verse in the Bible:
Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.
– James 4:17
Was that really necessary? You may be thinking: “I have enough trouble trying not to do all the things I am forbidden to do, and you tack on this little decree?”
When you have a strong sense of the right thing to do, but you equivocate, you leave it for someone else to do and walk away, you’ve violated your conscience.
Jesus defined early on in his ministry what it would mean to be his disciple by giving us the GOLDEN RULE.
Are there situations you walk right by in your everyday life and do nothing? Is there something have been debating about getting involved in? Is there someone right now who isn’t even asking for your help?
Live-and-let-live Christians miss the whole point of being a Christian, which is be God’s agent of love in this world.