Christian atheism is to believe in God but to live like he doesn't exist. I…
4. Purpose Paradigm Shift
12. Nothing Wasted
29. Know Your Enemy
Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
You’re God’s masterpiece.
You’re made in the image of God.
You’re made for a purpose.
In Ephesians 2:10, the word in Greek for “masterpiece” is the word “POIEMA.” It’s where we get the word poem. This passage is saying, “You are God’s masterpiece. You’re his workmanship. You’re his poem. You’re his work in progress.” We are not perfect or complete; instead, we are a work in progress.
If you’ve worked construction, you know there’s nothing more frustrating than not having the right tool for the job. When snowboarding with my family recently, I realized I didn’t have the right tool to help fix my son’s snowboard. I tried using a plastic butter knife instead of a screwdriver. You can probably guess that it didn’t go as I had hoped. I was trying to get a butter knife to do something it was never designed to do. You have a creator that has designed you for great things. Frustration sets in when we start creating a purpose for ourselves that he didn’t create.
John 9:1-2 (NLT)
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “Why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents sins?”
Jesus’ disciples had seen him heal lots of people. This is the first time they asked why someone was the way they were. The disciples made an assumption and wanted to know who sinned. In their mind, it had to be someone’s fault. Like in Jesus’ time, we hear, “Everything happens for a reason.” It’s a tempting lie to believe, but listen to how Jesus answers:
John 9:3 (NLT)
“It was not because of his sins or his parent’s sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.”
John 9:1-3 (Message)
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “Why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.”
Jesus noticed that they were asking the wrong question. This is not a cause-and-effect situation. God didn’t cause their son to be blind due to a bad thing the parents did. Asking yourself why something is happening can be good when it is self-examining. For example, “Why do I do the things that I do?” “Why is my wife mad at me right now?” Why can it be a good thing when you’re asking about yourself? When asking about God’s plan for your life, it’s also a good question. But let me give you a paradigm shift that will help you.
While serving as a youth pastor, I took a group of teenagers on a trip to volunteer at an orphanage. Eric, a buddy of mine from college, reached out and asked if we could raise funds and come to Mexico to help out. I gathered about 24 students and headed to Mexico. While there, I experienced a culture shock. I mean, talk about a paradigm shift. I had no idea what the poverty and living conditions were like for the kids in the area. While we put together beds and provided resources, all I could think about was, “How is Eric living out the such purpose with his life? This guy gets up every day and changes generations.” One of the days, Eric and I talked, and what he said was a total paradigm shift for me.
I asked him, “Eric, how do you have so much purpose?” I saw that he was fulfilled, living the dream and changing lives. Eric was still a work in progress, but God was using him so powerfully. Eric said, “You gotta stop asking, ‘what is God’s plan for my life?’ Instead, ask God, ‘What are your plans for your world?’” When he said that, I was blown away. We got to stop asking ourselves, “what is God’s purpose for my life?” and start asking, “God, what are your plans for your world?” That little shift makes a paradigm shift from Mine to His.
Shift #1: Mine to His
Proverbs 16:4 (NLT)
The Lord has made everything for his own purposes
You’ve got to switch from my life plan to his plan. “The Lord has made everything for his own purposes.” God is up to some incredible things. He is doing some amazing things in your life, in your neighborhood, in your work, and your family. When we approach areas of our life, like “What are you going to do for me? What’s my purpose?” We subconsciously think that the universe revolves around us. Instead, our job is to revolve around him.
“Stop asking God to bless what you’re doing. Find out what God’s doing. It’s already blessed.”
During an interview, someone asked Bono why he was spending so much money building water wells in Africa. Bono realized that there are a lot of great things that God’s doing. If we get too obsessed with trying to find what God’s plan is for our life, we miss the bigger plan.
My buddy Eric told me there was good news and bad news. Here’s the bad news. God doesn’t have a plan for your life. Here’s the good news. God’s got a plan for the whole world, and your life fits into his plan. Doesn’t something about that feel good? Like, oh, wait a minute. It’s not about me. God, what are you doing? I want to get in on that. When you were born again, it wasn’t just for your own salvation. But it was for God’s plan that was attached to the kingdom of God and your role in God’s mission. Man, God’s restoring, redeeming, reconciling, and making all things new. You were made new, and now you join in that mission.
If you have ever been to a water park, then you will know that there is a thing called “The Lazy River.” There is a water flow, and all you have to do is get into the current. Once in, you’re in motion. God’s doing so much incredible stuff. When our eyes are on ourselves, sometimes we miss it. I promise you his plan has never slowed down. In fact, when you study what God’s doing around the world, it’s so exciting. If you look at what God’s doing in this church, it’s so exciting. God is on the move. You just got to find a place to get your raft in the water. When you get on that raft, it will take you into what he’s doing.
When we make the mistake of saying, “Everything happens for a reason,” we are possibly hurting people amid pain in their lives. Instead of everything happening for a reason, realize that it can happen for a His purpose. You might have pain, heartbreak, or rejection in your life. Maybe you’ve lost family and friends, you’ve lost finances, you got businesses. You might be asking yourself, “Why?” Jesus says what you’re asking is the wrong question. You need to be asking who?
Shift #2: Why to Who
Asking yourself why is a good question when trying to discover the intentions of something or someone’s character. But see, God has revealed his character to you. He showed his character to us in the person and the work of Jesus. He’s revealed his intentions to the great sacrifice he made by giving his first son for you on behalf of your mistakes. God showed you His intentions by raising from the grave so you can trust him. When we start asking, “Why did you let this happen?” “What are you gonna do about this?” “Why all this pain?” “Why all this betrayal?” When we go to him asking all these why questions, it’s usually because I’m trying to blame him for something that happened. It is time to switch from why to who. Has God been good to you? Yes, all that stuff happened. It’s heartbreaking. He saw that. God takes no joy in seeing you suffer. God took no pleasure in seeing Jesus suffer. Let me ask you, is he still good? Is he still a good God that has still been faithful to you? When you see who God really is, you can’t help but trust them. Faith is trusting God when we don’t understand.
Since the start of the church 11 years ago, we have asked God to give us a word for the year. The word has been a guide for us to help us know whether to say yes or no to opportunities that come up. The Lord so clearly spoke to me for you:
In 2022, don’t waste your pain.
Romans 8:28 (NLT)
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
We know that God works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Don’t waste your pain because God can work all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose. Your pain can bring you closer to Him if you surrender it to him. And your pain can bring other people closer to Him if you give it to him. Jesus will take your pain and transform you into the person he’s always intended you to be. If he could do it for me, he could do it for you,
Shift #3: Me to We
The last paradigm shift we have to make is you have to go from an attitude of Me to We. Every plan of God, and all of God’s purposes, are connected to people. Do you know what God cares about more than anything? People. You’re the one thing that will be in heaven when you get there. For many of us, heavens already coming to earth, for those of us are born again. But if you are still trying to figure out what God wants you to do or what your purpose is, it’s His people. Surround yourself with people who will encourage and challenge and strengthen you. Life groups meet all over in homes and even on zoom for those who do not live nearby. Get in a group and watch God guide you to His purpose together.