Friday, March 6, 2009

Paul Knew his Purpose; Do You Know Yours?

“For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.”
–2 Timothy 1:11 (NRSV)

This is an astoundingly simple way of describing the role of the most charismatic and influential of all apostles. In the original Greek, Paul describes this in ten words, and I think what he’s said in Koine Greek is much richer than that portrayed in the New International Version above.

Perhaps a more literal rendering of it is from the Amplified version. Not everyone advocates the Amplified, though for this purpose it works well reading, “For [the proclaiming of] this [Gospel] I was appointed a herald (preacher) and an apostle (special messenger) and a teacher of the Gentiles.”

He mentions here his three-fold role and to whom he was sent--to the “nations” i.e. the peoples of the world other than the Jews.

Perhaps this is why we get the impression from Paul’s work and travels, as well as his writing, that he’s absolutely focused on his call of God. One can barely imagine being accosted by Christ, as Paul was, on the road to Damascus. Having had such a blindingly salient epiphany we can see why Paul is pushed on to the end of his life in serving God resolutely.

Do we ever have visions like Paul did on his way to Damascus? Some people do. I’m not sure everyone would call them fortunate though; to be ‘called up’ by God so emphatically. It’s an awfully scary thought. Would we want an experience like this or not?

The harrowing truth is this. We need to feel called to something to really receive the staying power for life; if we haven’t received it yet, we ought to wonder why. Is there anything worse than an aimless life?

This is not to say that those living a calling are one hundred percent content at all times. Finding the call and committing to it is one thing; achieving a balance to that end is a tantalising thing, and I’m not sure that even Paul knew a complete peace in the midst of his world of call.

But our peace is hardly the point, is it? It’s about finding our purpose in God; it’s finding that thing (or things) that he’s wired us to do. Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life mentions we get our purpose or calling from an acronym, S.H.A.P.E.[1] Our spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality and experiences are all so pertinent to the right path that God has for us in loving and serving him.

Wouldn’t it be great to be pressed in the heart and as single-minded as Paul was about his purpose? Wouldn’t that help us know, and be able to live, the transformation life that only God can provide?

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

[1] Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2002), p. 234-40.

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