Its been common for the last decade or so for companies to have a mission or purpose statement, a short and to the point description of their essence and reason for existence. I wonder if you were to write a similar mission statement for your life what it would it say? I suspect that its probably even more important for us as indviduals to reflect on our purpose than it is for multinational companies. After all, we only have one life and could there be any greater tragedy in life than to waste that life?
I have pulled a muscle in my back and so can’t move very much which has given me a great reason to spend the morning reading and reflecting. All week I have been reading a couple of chapters of Colossans each day, its been a profound expereince in many ways. This morning just 13 words from the three chapters I read really caught my attention. Here they are “live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way” Colossians 1:10 The more I have turned these 13 words over in my mind the more I have thought that I couldn’t write a better mission statement for my life than Paul has had in this short statement.These words are part of a prayer written by Paul for believers in Colossae and so I guess by extension for all believers. They express the Apostle’s desire for the lives of fellow followers of Christ, in other words, its a mission statement for disciples.
So what does this mission statement say about the lives of those of us committed to being disciples of Christ? We can answer that question with just two words that distill these thirteen words even further, progress and purpose. I want Paul’s prayer to be answered in my life through my life being characterised by progress and purpose.
That little phrase “live a life” actually means to “walk” its a metaphor, a picture that conveys meaning, drawn from the Old Testament. It’s a picture that is trying to convey to us the truth that following God is about a lifestyle, about all of our lives aligned to God’s purposes and making progress. Walking necessitates progress, used in the NT it is a reminder that living as a Christian is not about passively waiting to go to heaven. That’s why I am attracted to this statement as a mission statement for my life, I want my life to be marked by progress. Looking back there have been too many periods of time when I have been content to be stationary in my following of God. Paul’s word reminds me that my purpose is to make progress as I follow my Lord, situation by situation, circumstance by circumstance growing in Christlikeness and of course that involves Christlike service. These 13 words are causing me to cast a critical eye over my life to see if I have been walking, if I have been making progress in my life, if I have been growing in my knowledge of God, if I have been growing in obedience, if I have been growing in my commitment to mission?
The other word distilled from these 13 that I am desperate to see my life incarnate is purpose. Having a purpose in life saves me from mere existing, from being litttle more than a biological entity rather than a significant being. Paul’s prayer is that I would live a life, “worthy of the Lord and please him in every way“. I take that to mean that negatively I am to aim to live in such a way that my behaviour doesn’t reflect negatively on Christ. Is there any greater challenge? My conduct and character is connected to the reputation of my God. I will never understand why God has chosen to entrust his reputation to mine but He has and I want live up to his trust in me. That leads to some difficult questions for me
Is there anything that I am doing right now which if it appeared in the newspapers would damage God’s reputation?
Have I said anything recently that has caused someone else to form a negative opinion of Christ?
These words remind me that my purpose in life although it has a negative dimension, making sure my character and conduct is worthy of my Lord by eliminating what is unworthy that purpose is overwhelming positive. My purpose in life is at once simple and yet significant, it is to find out what pleases my Lord and do it. These 13 words are a reminder I don’t exist to please myself, my purpose in life is to live in a way that brings me the most pleasure but in way that brings the biggest smile to the face of my God. That purpose has huge implications for the person I am becoming and the things I do, for my being and doing, my character and conduct. It means first of all discovering what pleases the Lord. I guess that will involved a renewed commitment to immersing myself in the Word of God and being open to the Spirit of God.
Its amazing what you can learn on your back, I have learned that I exist “live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way”
Whether you are flat on your back or not, can I ask you a question, what’s your purpose in life, why do you exist?