< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: From The Purpose Driven Life

Friday, April 11, 2008

From The Purpose Driven Life

Every Lent since this book by Rick Warren was published, I’ve read it. It has 40 chapters so it’s perfect for Lent. Every year I learn something new. This year I decided to teach from it, mostly because I wanted a condensed version I could refer to more often, but also to share. The book is highly inspirational and motivational.

Just this part about one of our purposes in life: becoming like Christ:

God created us in His image, but sin distorted that image so Jesus was sent not only to redeem us, but to show us what we are supposed to be like. The Bible says Jesus is the exact likeness of God. Jesus said, “When you have seen me you’ve seen the Father.”

We will never become a god, but we will become godly.

Ephesians 4:20-22 (message) But that's no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.

Christlikeness is all about transforming our character, not our personality. God gave each of us a unique personality, so He’s not trying to create a bunch of clones. But, He wants our character to be like the beatitudes says:

Matthew 5:1-12
1Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them saying: 3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. 10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

And the Fruits of the Spirit
Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

And Peter’s list of the characteristics of an effective and productive life:
2 Peter 1:5-8
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Something Warren wrote here struck me: He said, “Every time you forget that character is one of God’s purposes for your life, you will become frustrated by your circumstances. You’ll wonder, “Why is this happening to me?” “Why am I having such a hard time?” One answer is that life is supposed to be difficult! It’s what enables us to grow. Earth is not heaven.”

Jesus told us He came so we would have abundant life and many Christians think that means perfect health, a comfortable lifestyle, constant happiness, instant relief from problems through faith and prayer. They expect heaven on earth.

I’ve always thought if it were that way people would flock to Christianity, but for all the wrong reasons.

God is not a genie who exists for our personal pleasure. We exist for His purpose not vice versa.

God gives us our time on earth to build and strengthen our character for heaven. In the future, but for all eternity.

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