|Rugendas, c. 1820, "Village of Christianized Tapuyos indians"|
The book Radical by David Platt touched on this invisible fear among many Christians. The book Radical is, according to Kevin DeYoung, "an all-out assault on cheap grace, easy-believism, consumer Christianity."
And is against the Christian laziness that comes with it. I agree that those things should be avoided and denounced. But despite the softening language, Platt's overall tone is that we should throw it all over, sell all our stuff, and run off to Burma as a missionary.
DeYoung admires Platt but has five concerns of the book, and mentions this fourth: "I worry that radical and crazy Christianity cannot be sustained. If the message of Jesus translates into “Give more away” or “Sacrifice for the gospel” or “Get more radical” we will end up with burned out evangelicals. Even when Jesus said his hard saying (and he said a lot of them) it was not his basic stump speech. His message was repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15). When Jesus challenged the crowds to count the cost or let the dead bury their dead it was to make clear that following him was not all about miracles and wonders, it was about giving him the preeminence. The emphasis was doxological first and foremost. Worship Christ. Believe in Christ. Walk with Christ. And therefore, before you follow Christ be prepared for opposition."
"I don’t worry for David’s theology, but I worry that some young Christians reading his book might walk away wondering if a life spent working as a loan officer, tithing to their church, praying for their kids, learning to love Christ more, and serving in the Sunday school could possibly be pleasing to God. We need to find a way to attack the American dream while still allowing for differing vocations and that sort of ordinary Christian life that can plod along for fifty years. I imagine David wants this same thing. I’m just not sure this came through consistently in the book."
|Rick Warren, Source|
The book was a catalyst for the lurking doubt that rests in many Christians that they aren't doing enough. That they are missing their purpose. (thanks a bunch, Rick Warren). So what is the answer?
The bible. God wrote down about Himself, what He wanted us to know about Him. He also put in there by the inspired Holy Spirit what He wants us to do and not do, and to take comfort in His promises. His purpose for us is in there.
He has several purposes for us all. ALL.
God wants us to believe. That is our primary purpose in life. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15. Also 2 Peter 3:9 & Acts 22:16).
After belief, we are to be a witness, teaching and making disciples. That is the Christian's purpose in life. "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Our chief purpose in Christian life is to glorify God. "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). This next part is from MacArthur's outline from his essay "How to live for God's glory"
- Confess Your Sins. (1 John 1:9)
- Bear Fruit. (John 15:8; Colossians 1:10)
- Give Praise to God. (Psalm 50:23)
- Be Content. (Philippians 4:11)
- Pray According to God’s Will. (John 14:13)
- Proclaim God’s Word. (2 Thessalonians 3:1)
Just because he isn't speaking like that any more does not mean He isn't speaking. Or, rather, has not spoken. Hebrews 1:1-2 says that God's final word is through His Son--
"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world."
His Son is the Word and His word can be found in the bible. That is where we find our purpose.
"But what if I am to be called as a missionary? Or a preacher? Or to do a certain work in a certain place as a layperson? How will I know if there is a specific purpose, then?"
Do we think that just because He doesn't come down to us and speak directly through a burning bush, that we cannot understand that if He has a specific call for our lives that He can't or won't make it clear? He is powerful! As Spurgeon praises Him in His power so eloquently,
"He changes not in his attributes. Whatever the attributes of God were of old, that they are now; and of each of them we may sing "As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen." Was he powerful? Was he the mighty God when he spake the world out of the womb of nonexistence? Was he the Omnipotent when he piled the mountains and scooped out the hollow places for the rolling deep? Yes, he was powerful then, and his arm is unpalsied now, he is the same giant in his might; the sap of his nourishment is undried, and the strength of his soul stands the same for ever."
He has the power to instill in you the burning desire to be a preacher. As He did Paul, 1 Corinthians 9:16, or Jeremiah in Jeremiah 20:9.
Has He given you the gift of teaching? Do people remark on your teaching or preaching, whether you have done it impromptu or in formal settings? (Ephesians 4:11).
Even if we have submitted to His obvious working of circumstances in our lives so that we are now beginning to understand the specific purpose, He will also still sovereignly work to guide you within it! See Paul in Acts 16:6-8,
|Mosaic, 'Man of Macedonia appearing to Paul'|
"And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas."
In the next verse Paul received a vision of where He was in fact to go. Though we do not receive direct visions anymore like this, do we not think the Spirit isn't still working and guiding us within our lives to HIS purpose? Of course He is.
Because that is what it is all about, God's purpose, not our purpose. We believe, submit, and serve. He guides and organizes the rest. Do we believe that God is so timid that our busy lives can block Him out, and that it is even remotely possible for us to miss a specific purpose He has outlined for us?
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified." (Romans 8:28-30)
|Queen Esther - Andrea del Castagno, c.1450|
"Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14-15)
'If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place'. So you see, God providentially works all things to the good, and we are not so powerful that we miss His call, and He is not so tenuous that it all falls apart if we refuse it.
God has a purpose. If you know what your purpose is- and you will, because God makes it clear, and you refuse the call to be a missionary or preacher or whatever, God will still fulfill what He wants to fulfill. His plans are immutable.
Our purpose is to believe, witness, make disciples, and glorify Him. We all have that purpose. In addition, He sent the Spirit to dispense Gifts as He wills, so that His purposes will be executed though us and by the fruits we bear by His Spirit's power. If we are to have a specific call, He will make it known. Moses was 40 years old when we learned he killed a man, and he waited another 40 years until God used him for his last 40. Moses was used by God from age 80-120. So even one of the great patriarchs of the bible was not called to a specific purpose until late in life. However, Moses's entire life was used of God's purpose! Moses just didn't know it. It is the same with us.
Not everyone has a call to run off to Burma or to preach to the masses. Most of us, I dare say, are simply operating in our mundane spheres, planting seeds and bearing fruit. If we have a call to perform a specific purpose, we will understand it when it comes. Until then, rest secure in His providence and His power. It's not our purpose in life that is the point, but His purposes.