This is post #2 in a nine blog/podcast series entitled LIVING PURPOSEFULLY. In this series, we’ll look at the theme of living a Christ-centered life and explore how we, like Jesus of Nazareth, can become recipients of God’s amazing gift to live life on purpose and to the full. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
Our Lectio Divina for today: John 5: 19-20 (MsgB)
So Jesus explained Himself at length. “I’m telling you this straight. The Son can’t independently do a thing, only what He sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does. The Father loves the Son and includes Him in everything He is doing.”
There are so many self-help gurus out there who will gladly tell you (for the price of their book and/or their week-end seminar) how to live a life of purpose. A quick Google search finds dozens and dozens of books addressing this common problem we all have in this life:
How do I avoid wandering aimlessly in this life? How do I live a life that matters?
In our quick-fix society, numerous experts on the subject offer their answers in short easy steps. One author of a fairly popular book on the subject (I’ll not reveal the name) boils down her answers to these seven:
- Live by your beliefs and values.
- Set priorities.
- Follow your passion.
- Achieve balance.
- Feel content.
- Make a difference.
- Live in the moment.
Hmm. Not bad advice. Especially when you find other authors out there who will solve your “living purposely” dilemma by offering you at least twenty-five or more great ideas!
Let’s face it. The practice of giving advice to others on how to best live our lives is as old as the human race. Long before the internet or the printed page were ever invented, well-meaning people were leaning over their back fences, offering great advice to their neighbors on how to live a life that really matters.
So it isn’t surprising that even in Jesus’ day, people were looking for answers to this burning question. It’s interesting that no one apparently came right out and asked the Master the question directly, but fortunately, there was that one day when some of Jesus’ detractors began badgering Him about the work He was doing on the Sabbath. According to John’s Gospel, this is the same day that Jesus healed a man who had been suffering from a debilitating illness for thirty-eight years. Here’s the full story (John 5: 1-18):
Soon another Feast came around and Jesus was back in Jerusalem. Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, with five alcoves. Hundreds of sick people—blind, crippled, paralyzed—were in these alcoves. One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, He said, “Do you want to get well?” The sick man said, “Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in.” Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off. That day happened to be the Sabbath. The Jews stopped the healed man and said, “It’s the Sabbath. You can’t carry your bedroll around. It’s against the rules.” But he told them, “The man who made me well told me to. He said, ‘Take your bedroll and start walking.’” They asked, “Who gave you the order to take it up and start walking?” But the healed man didn’t know, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd. A little later Jesus found him in the Temple and said, “You look wonderful! You’re well! Don’t return to a sinning life or something worse might happen.” The man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. That is why the Jews were out to get Jesus—because He did this kind of thing on the Sabbath. But Jesus defended Himself. “My Father is working straight through, even on the Sabbath. So am I.” That really set them off. The Jews were now not only out to expose Him; they were out to kill Him. Not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was calling God His own Father, putting Himself on a level with God.
So, it’s in response to this criticism, that Jesus, in today’s text (John 5: 19-20), gives a short and sweet response that not only repudiates His critics’ complaints, but in truth, offers all of us who care to listen, The Master’s key to living a life on purpose! Just think about it. In two short verses, Jesus gives us, at no cost at all, an answer that can eliminate all the searching we humans do on how we might live a purposeful life. Let me repeat it now…and this time, let’s you and I soak in His amazing answer, letting it reach the deepest parts of our souls…
I’m telling you this straight. The Son can’t independently do a thing, only what He sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does. The Father loves the Son and includes Him in everything He is doing.
Did you catch the importance of these two verses?
Jesus, the One who led what even non-Christians would call one of the most productive, purpose-driven lives in the history of mankind, is giving us His secret recipe on how He does the purposeful things He does. You see, whether it be healing a man crippled for thirty-eight years, multiplying a handful of bread and fish to feed five thousand, or laying down His life for all of us at the Cross, Jesus’ purposeful life was made that way, not because He went out on His own accord, using His creative imagination to assemble a well-crafted purpose statement for His life. No. Jesus’ secret to having a purposeful life and ministry is because:
1) Jesus believes His Father in Heaven wants to pro-actively involve Him with His work in this world, thus the Master freely chooses to allow His Father to define His life for Him, and…
2) Jesus chooses, on a moment by moment basis, to follow suit wherever and however He senses His Father leading Him, placing His hands where He sees His Father is already working.
It was my mentor, Pastor John Wimber, who first pointed out for me these two Jesus-directed holy steps of living a purposeful life. And yes, I will freely admit to you, that while it’s been a steep learning curve for me to stop doing my own agenda so that I might adjust to God’s, I will say that in the end, these words of wisdom have become a game-changer in my life. You see, it was Wimber who first suggested to me that there is a huge difference between my best efforts to live a purposeful life for the cause of God’s Kingdom compared to simply laying down my own agendas so that I might better follow Jesus and His ministry wherever and whenever He was working.
Which now brings us, of course, to our next question…
If indeed, my desire to live a life of purpose will find its fulfillment in only doing what the Father is doing…how in the world can I be sure of what the Father is doing?
Great question! I’m glad you asked it! Join us next time, as we address this one. And in the meantime, look around you today. I’m guessing that God is already at work somewhere and somehow in the people and situations around you. I encourage you to find it, then stop what you’re currently doing, and like Jesus, go to work where He is already working! Remember, if it worked for Jesus, I bet it can work for you!
My prayer: Jesus, I’m so thankful that Your detractors pushed You for an explanation on why You were working and healing on the Sabbath. I fully believe that within Your short response to their religious questions, I find the key to living a life on purpose. As Your follower, I too, believe that my Loving Father desires to pro-actively involve me with His work in this world. So by the indwelling and empowering work of the Holy Spirit within me, I believe You will allow me to see where the Father is working and then help me to adjust my life’s purpose so that I follow Him wherever He may go. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So what might it look like for me today to step back from my activities or my desires to accomplish something purposeful, and enter instead, into those purposeful things I sense that Jesus and the Father are doing around me? Am I willing to experiment with such an approach to life like this? Am I willing to risk it?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live a Christ-centered, purposeful life?
Thank you for joining us on this 9-session journey we call Living Purposefully. We suggest you bookmark our blog/podcast homepage for this series to keep all the blogs and podcasts in one place for your future reference.
Oh, and if you enjoy what you’re reading here, we encourage you to share this page and our website, The Contemplative Activist, with your friends!