Monday, July 25, 2011

Purpose Driven or in Pursuit of Promise?

The phrase that brought fresh revelation to people everywhere in the last decade was, "Purpose Driven."  Not a new concept but one that was focused upon and "driven" home by well known evangelical pastor and influencial leader Rick Warren. 

What if we missed something ever so sublte in our focus on purpose?  Much good and healthy re-focus was gained in the whole Purpose Driven movement.  Yet I'm impressed to see God's sovereignty, His redemptive work throughout history, and His narrative in the story of man as promise driven, not merely purpose driven.

We tend to "drive" our lives around goals that we think have been derived from a revelation of personal purpose in terms of dreams, hopes, goals, plans and pursuits.

I may very well be splitting hairs, yet I feel strongly that even a subtle mis-alignment in our understanding on this subject would be wrong for us to embrace.

So God's purpose isn't a great mystery, it is one of redemption.  His means to that end are facilitated by covenant.  He makes a promise, He establishes it through covenant, then calls men to pursue the fulfillment of His covenant promise by way of individual calls, and narratives through redemptive history.

I believe this idea of pursuing promise, held by covenant relationship, to be a healthier, freer, approach to life mapping.  In contrast to the "purpose driven" model.  This subtle difference in viewing our brief time on planet earth could revolutionize the lives of individuals, families, and organizations.

What if your church found a fresh vision based on God's promise, or unique voice to them about their role in the community?  What if the many individuals that comprised that church were free to see how the voice of God to them and the many promises He has spoken to them, flowed seem-lessly into the greater pursuit of God's unique promise to their local church? 

The challenge with purpose, is everything gets driven to death by purpose until there remains no unity or agreement on purpose.  For my purpose to make money and look after the well-being of my family, by pursuing my prophetically spoken purpose as the next great, author, song writer, business man, whatever the case may be; will continually contend with all the other "purposes" floating around in my community and local church. 

The beauty of promise, is that promise is generational, and covenant relationship plays a huge role in fulfilling promise, until His return.  As we endeavor to "occupy" until He returns, we should be free from being driven by goals and dreams, and released to enjoy God's interaction with us as His people.  We should set less goals, and live freer covenant lives as He leads us into victory in the many trials and triumphs of life.

We have the benefit of hindsight when we evaluate scripture, yet consider the redemptive story in the heroes of the faith throughout the Bible.  Did Moses draft up short term, mid-term and long term goals?  Did Joshua really have long term strategic plans, or was he really following the daily voice of God in pursuit of the same promise that was spoken to Moses, and prophesied through Abraham centuries before?  Did Peter have a life map and 7 strategic steps to a purpose driven pentecost?  Did the Apostle Paul have as a life goal to author most of the New Testament and spend the majority of his life in persecution, prison and homelessness?

Perhaps we have forgotten how to hear the voice of God in our lives leading us daily.  Perhaps we get too obsessed with building a building or a relevant church and we forget that the promise for all of us is the same.  Our mandate to be disciples and duplicate ourselves is a covenant promise fulfilled, in a covenant relationship with Jesus, led by the Promise of the Holy Spirit as Truth, Helper, and prophetic voice of the church.

Personally I have often gotten discouraged and frustrated because none of my personal ambitions were fulfilled.  Those frustrations are fueled by  a great sense of "purpose" that has been emphasized in recent years.  When that kind of frustration is collective throughout the body, it seems like less would be accomplished.  It seems like a bunch of frustrated people would stop living a daily life and being used by God to see His promise fulfilled.

I am challenged by this to re-frame the focus and structure of my life, and the ministry I lead.  What do you think would change if you could throw away all your present goals, and look at life from this perspective?  Would you set new goals?  Would you be as disappointed if God's plan trumped yours?