Thoughts To Start The New Year

Posted: January 4, 2010 by Rich Landosky in HSM, MSM, The Journey

I read this on Seth Barnes’ blog today and thought it was well stated.  And since it is a key part of our purpose and mission as a student ministry, it is worth posting for all of us to read.

Your Purpose on Earth by Seth Barnes on 12/31/2009

Tomorrow starts a new year – time to look at the big picture of life, answering questions like, “Why am I here – what’s my purpose?”

Just a few thoughts about that: Your primary purpose on earth is not to do good works. If you follow Jesus, your purpose is to embrace the ministry of reconciliation. Though we’re separated from God and feel the distance, we were born to be with him and to bring others into his presence. He reconciles us in our broken state to himself and asks us to invite others to the party.

Maybe that sounds like evangelism to you. The word “evangelism” sticks in a lot of people’s throats like a bone. They equate the term to acting like a kind of a religious used car salesman in a cheap suit. The problem is that when Jesus asks us to share the gospel wherever we go, we complicate his assignment with threadbare words.

My guess is that if we really understood how so many people feel, it would be much easier to embrace the ministry of reconciliation.

Perhaps you’ve never experienced the sense of utter despair that comes when you feel abandoned by God. Perhaps you’ve forgotten what it was like to feel God’s embrace for the first time.

People all over the earth feel ugly, forgotten, and estranged from God. The Bible calls them “children of wrath,” and that’s how they feel – at odds with themselves and the God who made them, living in a scarred and forgotten place. Listen to a missionary friend of mine describing the Islamic culture in which she works, “The legalistic religion dictates every aspect of  culture turns their lives into little more than an empty performance of religious acts from cradle to grave.  The streets also teem with the various categories of the hopeless. Twisted forms of the crippled, deformed, and indigent hobble down the sidewalks or lie on cardboard mats begging for small change. The lunatics wrap themselves in filthy blankets and rail into empty space. The poorest of the poor are labeled sinners and treated as soulless outcasts. The sense of oppression is thick.”

How do you respond? I think, “Someone needs to launch a rescue mission to set these people free.” And if you were to launch such a mission, people would call you a “missionary.” And you might blanch at the thought. What do you feel as you read these words? Perhaps you feel a small twinge of the pain they describe. Perhaps the word “missionary” conjures up a picture of people being preached to who are quite content to be left alone. Whatever your response to the words, don’t let them distract you from your purpose. We mustn’t let words trip us up or water down the urgency of our assignment.

As a follower of Jesus, your purpose is a noble one. You are called to partner with God to help people realize their belovedness, to see a God who is lovesick and wants to woo them back to himself. It’s the task of setting things right, of restoring the natural order to things – orphans brought into a family, parched lips feeling the refreshment of a cool drink, lonely hearts feeling the glow of companionship.

Jesus described his kingdom as a place where lost things are found. When we’re that lost thing and he finds us, we realize the treasure we are in his eyes. And we get to join him in helping others to see themselves that way too.

It’s an incredible thing to partner with God. It’s wonderful to help a person see that God loves them. If you’ve experienced it, it may have been the high point of your life. To join with God in helping others experience his love is a privilege that we we need to grasp. It’s a purpose to which we must commit.

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Comments
  1. Sarah says:

    I love that this is the thought that is to be had at the beginning of the New Year, even as we are five days into it. It seems that each year we try and work hard and look for what God is trying to show us, teach us and see who we really are, but within a few short weeks we are back into the “normal” routine and nothing changes. But really God is always trying to teach us and show us new things, each moment he blesses us with ability to breath. As Seth Barnes so eloquently puts it “If you follow Jesus, your purpose is to embrace the ministry of reconciliation.” There’s no way around the fact that we are to always be seeking God and through everything we do, we should be glorifying his name. It has been shown that we are to be sharing God’s word each and every day, as that may be much easier said than lived out, it should still be the goal we aim to meet each morning that we wake. Most importantly we shouldn’t aim to meet these goals for a few weeks of the New Year, rather have the idea we have been made with the intent that we will embrace the ministry of reconciliation and glorify God through everything. If we really want to get to know God and live for him, he must be the one who occupies your mind and allows you to show the world that we are his children.

  2. Rich Landosky says:

    I am reminded of a quote we have hanging in the HS Room by St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.”

  3. Joy says:

    Seth’s post reminds me of one of my favorite verses:
    “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”Matthew 9:36 How I pray I see others through Jesus’ eyes so that DAILY I can share’s God’s love and reconciliation with all who need it.

  4. Annie says:

    This really shows us how sad lives are without God in people’s hearts. “The streets also teem with the various categories of the hopeless. Twisted forms of the crippled, deformed, and indigent hobble down the sidewalks or lie on cardboard mats begging for small change. The lunatics wrap themselves in filthy blankets and rail into empty space. The poorest of the poor are labeled sinners and treated as soulless outcasts.” No one deserves to feel like an empty shell and it reminds me why going on a Mission trip this summer is so crucial. We need to start off the New Year better than ever and try not to fall (as Sarah said) into the same old routine. Evangelism may “equate the term to acting like a kind of a religious used car salesman in a cheap suit.”, but we need to remember exactly why we’re evangelizing. I know how hard it can be with simply asking friends not to say the Lord’s name in vain. Also, it’s hard with people you don’t know. But glorifying God is a HUGE priority. Thanks Rich I got a lot out of this!

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