So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
— 1 Corinthians 13:13, ESV
The purpose of Christian living is not only about spreading the gospel. It’s about loving the world around us so they may recognise the Lord.
Everyone has a part to play in the kingdom of God. And within this kingdom, everyone is different. That is why Paul wrote that we have the “apostles, prophets, shepherds, and teachers” for the purpose of “equipping the saints for the work of the ministry” (Eph 4:11-12, ESV). From this alone, we can recognise that not all are called to go all out to the streets and proclaim the gospel of Christ.
Everyone has a pre-determined role to play in this life. However, in order to fulfil this role, we will need love. This love for God and the people arises from our understanding of God and the recognition of our limitedness. It is seeing life from its rightful perspective that will allow us to rest on God’s sovereign nature to do what He called us to.
Identifying the Grand Purpose
I think, the key to identifying the grand purpose of God’s sovereign plan for the church is to understand the heart of God for all humankind. God’s purpose is for humanity to return to Him and to be with Him. This includes being One with Him in marriage for all eternity. This mind-boggling understanding of the Heart of God shifts the salvation plan of Christ (though exceedingly important), off-centre. The grand purpose of God is for humanity to enjoy the best of His goodness for all of eternity.
“The grand purpose of God is for humanity to enjoy the best of His goodness for all of eternity.”
The implications for the Christian gospel, therefore, should not be overly centred on sin and Christ’s salvation on the cross. Rather, the focus should be on God’s goodness and whether or not we choose to accept this priceless gift or not.
Identifying the Calling
Preaching this gift requires wisdom that must be learned. This wisdom is from all of nature that displays God’s glory and His handiwork (Psalms 19:1). However, one can only identify God’s participation in all of creation through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. It is this Spirit that draws us to pursue knowledge, gain understanding, and proclaim God’s eternal glories through His divine handicrafts.
I think this is humanity’s calling — to study the manifold wisdom of God that is manifested in all of academia, through the revelation of the Spirit, then preaching this knowledge to all of humanity. It is through this Spirit-led education and revelation that people can marvel at the intricate details of the sciences, the fragile but lovable fabric of interpersonal relationships, and the unfathomable nature of linguistics.
“The calling of humanity is to study the manifold wisdom of God that is manifested in all of academia, through the revelation of the Spirit, then preaching this knowledge to all of humanity.”
We are called to be salt and light for a reason. And I believe, this purpose is clear — to teach, to influence, and to reveal the mystery of God. This is the reason why the church is called to guide the people with love so they may not lose out, to serve the needs of others so they may learn, to open doors for others so that they may hear, and to be a living testimony of this wisdom so that the world may see and believe.
Of course, the above scenario is the ideal situation that the church may experience. I think we need to take note that in every point in time in history, Satan will work to destroy God’s work on earth. There is no point in history when the church will not face any form of persecution. However, even in these toughest of persecutions, God’s call for the church is still valid. The church still needs to draw humanity back to Him.
This is where the identification of gifts is so important within the church. It is through these gifts that God, the Holy Spirit, uses to guide the church to brave through whatever storms it will face. It is through these gifts that will draw people to doing certain tasks that they would otherwise not do, equipping each other for the work of ministry so as to build up the Body of Christ (Eph 4:12, ESV), realizing God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).
Serving with the Heart for the People
Coming back to the basis of the call. I think we can all agree that whether or not we are living in peace or in the midst of persecution, the only motivator for service is love. It is through the love for God and for one another that others will identify us as Christ’s disciples (John 13:35).
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
— 1 Corinthians 13:2, ESV
Love is the only way others will recognise that we are Christ’s followers. Love is the only thing that will differentiate a Christian ministry from other charitable work in the world. We love, because we have a heart for these people. We love, because God first loved us.
“Love is the only thing that will differentiate a Christian ministry from other charitable work.”
That is why the church is embarking on multiple ministries such as forming welfare funds, sponsorship funds, orphanages, seniors home, care centres, educational institutions, hospitals, charity alliances, so on and so forth, just so as to show the world that we care.
Sure, the gospel of salvation is indeed important. But when political circumstances or personal struggles forbid you to declare the gospel of salvation openly, you serve with love in the broken world with a heart for them.
Ministry and the Love of God
Honestly, you will not be able to serve in love if you are not One with the Father. Serving with love includes the complete putting down of oneself and resting on God’s sovereign providence and eternal nature. No one can serve the Lord with their focus set on something earthly. Hence, it is of utmost importance that every minister to the Lord constantly reflects on oneself for traces of self-centeredness and pride.
Failure to recognise God’s sovereign nature will cause us to point others in the wrong direction. The inability to completely trust in the Lord may cause us to commit dangerous mistakes we would otherwise avoid.
“You cannot show the world who God is with our own efforts. Only God Himself can. And, out of love, He chooses to work with His Wife, the Church, to realise this work.”
Hence, if the central purpose is to make known the richness of God to the broken world, focusing on the broken world will cast our work in the complete opposite direction. The world cannot show itself, God.
Loving God — The Only Way to Love Others
With that, I believe that there is no other thing that we can do to accomplish the calling from God other than to seek Him earnestly and recognising just how small we are in our palm-sized universe.
It is only through the understanding of God’s greatness that the fear of the Lord be planted within us. It is only through the recognition of God’s nature that will cause our inner pride to surface.
You cannot show the world who God is with our own efforts. Only God Himself can. And, out of love, He chooses to work with His Wife, the Church, to realise this work.
That is why we love — because God first loved us.
We respond to this love by fearing the Lord, recognising His sovereign nature, and fulfilling what He has called us to do. And we do all these knowing full well that others will recognise us as the disciples of Christ through the work of our hands.
This, is the sole purpose of living. There is no other purpose greater than this.