I saw a statistic this past week that was fascinating: it was a study of Desires Teens Hold for Their Future. High school students were given a list of things about the future and asked which three were most important to them.
Several things weren’t very high on the list that kind of surprised me:
…Only 18% listed “Achieving fame or public recognition” (YouTube celebrities? Not for these dudes.)
…Only 25% said, “Working in a high paying job” (Money doesn’t bring happiness.)
…Only 28% said “Owning a large home” (It’s just more to clean, anyway.)
But, here is what scored highest on the list. Having a clear purpose for living was 77%. Having one marriage partner for life was 82%. And the highest ranked desire — at 96% — was making a difference in the world.
Most people, regardless of their age, want to know how they can make a difference, and that often happens by discovering their purpose in life. I always say that the greatest day in your life is the day you were born and the second is the day you discover why.
A few weeks back I said that if you want to discover your calling, start with loving God, loving others, and loving yourself. But, how awesome would it be if I could just tell you what your purpose is? What if you knew the specific role you are supposed to play in this life?
What if you could know how to make a difference right now?
Paul, an early church leader and the author of this letter called Romans that we have been working through over the last few weeks, starts to explain that he had found just tha: Paul has found how Jesus has called him to make a difference.
Paul begins to lay out the path for how we can start to discover how to make a difference with our lives. And I want to apply this directly to the season that we are in as Shift Church.
Back in January 2018, I shared that I believe God is calling us as a church to make a difference in our community.He wants us to not just be another “meet here on Sunday drink some coffee and sing some songs and see ya next week” kind of church.
God clearly, definitely wants us to be a “church for the rest of us” that would — all possible means — reach out into our city and make a difference, transforming lives and families. That’s a bold statement, but our God is a bold God. He makes the call, and we’ll do whatever it takes!
So, what is our mission? I shared this last week: Our mission: A church — the movement of people — to bring the hope of Jesus to a community who desperately needs unity! The only way that we can live out this mission is by all of us being all in. This is about people that have decided to follow Jesus being 100% all in.
If you haven’t started to follow Jesus, we are so excited to welcome you at Shift. Our church is a safe place to explore faith and belong before you believe. But, for those of us that are following Jesus, this is our mission. That means that by all possible means:
We will give our time. We love people. So, we will serve the church. We will serve our community.
We will give God our lives. We love God. So, in everything we do, we will do it to the best of our ability, all to bring God glory.
We will trust God with our finances. We don’t presume that this mission isn’t going to take financial support to accomplish it. See, if we are going to live out the mission here in Gainesville, we need to be willing to invest in bringing the hope of Jesus to the community.
This is why God asks us specifically to test Him in giving your finances to the local church. We have taken God at His word and testing Him with our finances, and as a Church we have created a way for you to in a way test God.
(If you are new to giving, 90-Day Giving Challenge is a great way to start.)
God desires and deserves our first and our best when it comes to finances, and wants us to live as disciples of Jesus in this area, too. Giving is the response to the generosity of the Good News that’s been given to us.
Remember the Good News? Good News = God Gave, Jesus Came, Jesus Died, Jesus Rose: For Everyone.
It is our mission to be a movement of people who brings the hope of Jesus to our community. There’s a plan in place — a heavenly plan — and It’s gonna take you. You are Jesus’s plan. Jesus wants his church as healthy as possible. This is where Paul is going to start us off in Romans chapter 15 verse 14:
My brothers, I myself am convinced about you that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another.
In Paul’s mind, this is the goal of the church: to be a group of people who are able to instruct each other. For it to be a movement of people who are disciples who make disciples who make disciples.
My prayer for the people of Shift is that the Good News of Jesus grows in you deep enough that you, personally, are able to disciple someone else. That you become more filled with goodness, filled with knowledge of scripture, and filled with the desire to connect with disciple making disciples.
Paul continues by talking about his ministry, verse 15,
Nevertheless, I have written to remind you more boldly on some points because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, serving as a priest of God’s good news. My purpose is that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Therefore I have reason to boast in Christ Jesus regarding what pertains to God. 18 For I would not dare say anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to make the Gentiles obedient by word and deed, (Paul preached with his mouth and the way he lived his life) by the power of miraculous signs and wonders, and by the power of God’s Spirit. As a result, I have fully proclaimed the good news about the Messiah from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum. My aim is to evangelize where Christ has not been named, so that I will not build on someone else’s foundation, 21 but, as it is written: Those who were not told about Him will see, and those who have not heard will understand. -Romans 15:14-21
Paul’s knows his purpose is abundantly clear: to take the gospel where people haven’t heard it. This is what we all want, right? A clear sense of purpose, and to in what ways God has created us to make a difference.
Paul’s understanding of his purpose came from a 2-part path of discovery that we all must go down.
Understanding the purpose of God in the world.
Notice how Paul grounds the understanding of his purpose in God’s own purpose in scripture. Look at verse 20 again,
My aim is to evangelize where Christ has not been named, so that I will not build on someone else’s foundation, 21 but, as it is written: Those who were not told about Him will see, and those who have not heard will understand. -Romans 15:20-21
God’s purposes in scripture are the foundation for Paul’s purpose in life. I want to start here because it seems like most people want to know the will of God for their life, but few have stopped to ask what’s God’s purpose in the world.
God is doing something on Earth that he has told us about very clearly in scripture, and our understanding of our ambition has to start with His. Look at what Peter, one of the fishermen that Jesus called to follow Him, wrote in 2 Peter 3:9,
The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance. -2 Peter 3:9
Our lives should be part of God’s purpose. If we miss God’s purpose, we’re basically living a purposeless, wasted life, even if our lives are filled with good deeds. Paul recognizes that with the discovery of the God News comes the responsibility to be part of spreading it. There is only one Hope for every person in the world; it’s hearing and believing the gospel of Jesus. God Gave, Jesus Came, Jesus Died, Jesus Rose: For Everyone
If you are a follower of Jesus, you have a specific part in this! Some of us are very passionate about the world’s needs. We all have that desire to make a difference. Well I’m here to tell you today, the greatest need in the world is for people to hear about Jesus.
You have a role in God’s purpose. You need to reach your neighbors and co-workers with the Good News of Jesus and take on a huge role in Shift’s mission to bring the Hope of Jesus to the City of Gainesville.
We need you to give God your life, to give God your time, and to give God your finances to impact our mission.
You are investing in God’s mission and being part of making a difference in our city.
Sensing the Gifting of the Spirit
After Paul recognized the overarching purpose of God, he learned his role in this spirit from the Spirit of God. Paul developed was ability to be led by the Spirit of God. If you put your faith and hope in Jesus, then the Spirit of God, or the Holy Spirit lives in you and will guide you.
We want to help you with sensing the gift of the spirit, which this is part of our growth track program here at Shift. We will be offering the growth track again starting in August, and if you are uncertain about your gifting, this is a great way to discover and sense the gifting that God has placed in you.
God has made each of us unique with specific gifts, talents, and passions. The spirit of God will even use your experiences — both good and bad —so that you can make a difference.
The thing that we all have to remember is that whatever gift you have, we are called to use them in light of the bigger picture of God’s purpose. The mission of the local church is simple, to bring the Hope of Jesus to our community.