A People Of Purpose

A People Of Purpose

Preached From 1 Peter 2:9-12 By Aaron Youngren At Harambee Church
January 27, 2008

Note: In this week’s sermon I referred to our upcoming church plant in Chicago. If you haven’t heard about this yet, you can get updates here, and an overview of our vision with tips on how to use the website here.


Introduction

The sum of the entire Bible and the entire gospel is God’s glory in Christ. As the church, we are the everyday, practical-yet-incredible demonstration of that good news to the world. As such, our lives and every waking moments are part of a larger purpose, because we are God’s people, and God’s people have purpose.

As God’s people, the way that we act and react in our everyday circumstances is different

• The people of God are called to live with an every-day awareness of their purpose

• The people of God are called to develop different practical relationships, communities and networks

• The people of God are called to a different understanding of problems in the world and how to solve them

• The people of God are called to speak differently to others, because

• The mindset of the people of God is fundamentally altered

While this may seem obvious from scripture, current statistical data doesn’t seem to support the notion that practice of these things in the evangelical church in west is normative. Recent studies by a subsidiary of the Barna Group (see Kinnaman and Lyons, UnChristian: What A New Generation Thinks About Christianity) indicate

Two out of five young non-Christians say that Christianity represents a negative image with which they would not like to be associated
17% of young non-Christians claim that they have had “very bad” direct experiences with Christianity
87% of non-Christians between the ages of16 and 29 say that many Christians are judgmental
70% of non-Christians between the ages of16 and 29 say that many Christians are insensitive to others
85% of non-Christians between the ages of16 and 29 say that many Christians are hypocritical

How far from the words of Julian the apostate, the pagan antagonist of early Christianity who in letters bemoaning and explaining the abandonment of paganism advocating adoption of Christian charitable practices such as “benevolence toward strangers and care for the graves of the dead”, and “[support of] not only their poor, but ours as well, everyone can see that our people lack aid from us” (see Paul Johnson, A History Of Christianity)

Purpose

The people of God are called to live with an every-day awareness of their purpose

Although we dwell in a culture that is saturated with secular materialist exclusion of purpose or ontology (why am I here?), we must believe the Bible when it tells us that we have a purpose as the people of God

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

1 Peter 2:9

As the church, we are free to escape both the drudgery of slavery to sin (a purpose other than God’s) and to pursue a creative, bold and unexpected life of purpose in His kingdom. In addition, we don’t have to guess at what that purpose is. God Himself has defined our purpose as bringing Him glory (Matt 28:19; John 20:21; Acts 1:8; Eph 1:22-23; 3:20-21; Gen 12:2)


Mission Fully Realized

We must not be tempted to under-realize our mission as the church by only being obedient to certain aspects of our calling. For instance, when we hear the word “mission”, we might be tempted to think only of

Evangelism
Disciple Making
Social Justice
Relational Reconciliation
Provision for the Needs Of The Church
Growth Of The Church Body

Jesus tells us in Rev 21:5 that He is coming to make all things new. As such, our witness and gospel must be holistic in nature. We will now expand on a few of these aspects in which we have room to grow both in our imagination of what we should be and how that is outworked practically in our daily lives


Study Guide

Practical Purpose #1: The Household

The people of God are called to develop different practical relationships, communities and networks. As we point to God as the ultimate good, the basis for our relationships changes. We begin to obey His commands, and in doing so imitate Christ by serving and providing for His body, and by working hard to contribute to the financial needs of His body.

Verses For Further Study

· Each member of each household works hard in his or her role

– 1 Thess 4:9-12

– 2 Thess 3:6-18

– 1 Tim 5:3-8

· Wherever certain members of the household are suffering or in need, the household takes care of them

– 2 Cor 8:1-15

– 1 Tim 5:3-8

· Everyday sharing given as a command to all believers

– Romans 12:9-13, 16-21

– 1 Thess 4:9-12

– 1 Tim 6:17-19

– James 3:14-17

· Good works overflow to people outside of the household

– Romans 12:20-21

– Heb 13:1-3, 16

– James 1:27

Missionary Questions

· What are needs in my community of believers that I can help meet?

· What are my own needs that I need to let others meet?

· How does my hard work make me an image bearer of God?


Practical Purpose #2: Justice & Service

The people of God are called to a different understanding of problems in the world and how to solve them. We are free from the false hope that mankind will provide final justice for itself, but also free to pursue Justice and serve the poor wherever possible.

Verses For Further Study

· Gen 12:2

· Luke 6:28

· Matt 5:44-46

· Matt 22:37-39

· Rom 12:14, 20

· Eph 2:8-10

· James 1:27

Missionary Questions

· Which of my neighbors are most in need?

· How has God given me things that I don’t deserve?

· Write down names of people that God may be calling you to help


Practical Purpose #3: Truth-Speaking

The people of God are called to speak differently to others. The Bible tells us that those who do not hope in Christ cannot tell the truth and unleash destruction with the things that they say. As God’s people, we are free to be silent, to speak healing, to speak comfort, and to speak the ultimate truth of God’s grace in all of our relationships.

Verses For Further Study

· By verbal testimony to the truth of the gospel to non-believers

o Matt 28:19

o Acts 4:20, 29-31

o Eph 4:11

Preaching
Mark 3:14
Acts 16:10
Rom 10:14-15
2 Tim 4:2
Discipling
Matt 28:19
Speaking Reconciliation
2 Cor 5:18-19
Ephesians 2:14
Singing
Colossians 3:16

Missionary Questions

· What are the lies that prevail in my workplace and neighborhood?

· How can I speak truth into these situations?

· How would I articulate the gospel to my neighbors?

· What would be good news to them?


The Mindset Of God’s People Is Fundamentally Altered

Finally, it is the power of God’s glory demonstrated to us in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross which alone changes our hearts and enables us to operate as royal members of his family, noble carriers of His good news to a broken world.

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2 comments so far

  1. kennethc on

    Within my secular circles, I’ve been participating in some great conversations about God and the Bible. Unfortunately, it seems as though I’ve had to spend most of my effort gently correcting and admonishing the participating believers rather than engaging the non-believers. Just from this experience alone I would believe the statistics you provided from the Barna Group are tragically true. When we don’t have an answer for the hope that lies within we come up with winsome statements such as, “What a dumb comment. You opened this thread…no one forced you to. Go away.” or when our theology is flawed we say, “I’m Christian and I don’t believe the Bible is perfect. You should not either. Perfect is simply a concept of man.”

    Despite the family correction, the conversation has remained vivid and fruitful with the non-believers. While non of them have yet to profess a new found faith in Jesus… one of them did expose a secret not often said but we should all remember. At the end of a long reply… my non-believing friend Habibi said to me, “When this is all said and done, I really hope you are correct and I am wrong; for your view of the afterlife is much better than the non existant one I’m expecting. I really want to believe… ”

    Your sermon on Sunday reflects what Habibi revealed about himself.
    Romans 8:19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.

    Habibi and others like him indeed are groaning for the good news. They just have a hard time believing it when those whom are called to be the flesh of the word to the world are merely seeking to win an argument rather than save a lost friend. We foolishly hit them over the head with a blunt sword rather than piercing their heart with the love of Christ.

  2. youngren on

    Ken — You’re absolutely right. Encouraged as always to hear about your missionary work. Keep pointing to those wheels spinning within wheels. God is using you and your insights are excellent.

    P.S., I’m sorry for stealing but I’m using that blunt sword line next time.


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