There is no human definition of purpose that encompasses all God intends. However, from the Scriptures, it’s clear that love and relationship are interwoven in everything. We are meant to know God through His son Jesus. Life is meant to be experienced through the giving and receiving of love in relationship with Him and others. To live with anything other than our Creator’s inexhaustible love firing our purpose is to live a cold, dark existence we were not intended for.
I once lived a busy life of Christian ministry in a country that was unpredictable to say the least. While the adventure suited me, fulfilling others’ and my own expectations engulfed me. God’s grace prevailed, thankfully, and good things resulted from the work, but my heart was empty. While there were bright moments, my life was mostly characterized by religious performance and fear of judgement for several years.
I slipped into this way of living unintentionally in response to stress from a new culture. I sought things I felt I could control. Resting in relationship with Jesus was a fuzzy afterthought in the midst of all the doing, but I learned that increased activity does not necessarily equal a life of purpose. It often leads to the hollow existence described as the absence of love in 1 Corinthians 13.
This hollowness permeated my relationship with God, others, and how I thought about myself. Only those closest with me knew I felt this way because our family’s newsletters were truly exciting. Villages were hearing the gospel for the first time and turning to Christ. But somehow I was depressed and starving for purpose because of making Christian work my identity instead of intimacy with God.
I live a much simpler life now. It’s still filled with family and work activities, but these things are not my identity. Intimacy with God and loving others out of that relationship is my purpose. It’s never perfect because I’m human, but I find enduring contentment in this purpose–in love. And when I don’t, Jesus patiently helps me come home again.
Am I allowing my life’s activities, whether few or many, to crowd out my true purpose? If so, what changes can I make to help me live in my true purpose? Do I need to decrease my number of commitments or simply remember that my identity is found in Christ instead of my work? Perhaps both.