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11 November 2022

Church Talk: There is purpose and meaning to uor existence

Friday 11 March 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Church Talk, Features

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We need to know that we have purpose in life, that we’re not just an accident, that regardless of our situation, there is still purpose and meaning to our existence, writes Pastor Paul Kauri, lead pastor at The Arepua Gateway Assembly of God Church.

In the gospel of Matthew chapter 16, Jesus posed a question to his friends, the account reads as follows:

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven” Matthew 16:13-19

There are two subtle points in this conversation. However, to do these points justices, I need to clarify a few things.
Firstly, we need to understand that, Jesus was not asking this question because of any personal insecurities or needs. He was not looking for any affirmation from the people he was trying to save. Nor was He on any quest, to compare his popularity with that of any other scholar or teacher of his time.

Jesus was not trying to gauge, if people had recognised that he was the Messiah sent by God, like Moses had hoped with his people (Acts 7:25) In fact, the question itself was not for his sake! Rather, it was for his disciples’.
Secondly, we shouldn’t miss the fact that, this conversation was between Jesus and his friends, not between Jesus and the crowds. Jesus was never swayed in anyway by the opinions of men, and he wasn’t about to start now. So, it’s important to see that this question that was put to his disciples, and was in fact, for them.
Thirdly, this question from Jesus sits at the heart of every quest of every person, influencing the decision of all people throughout the ages.

King Solomon tries to articulate it in a meaningless way. Explorers have sailed many continents in pursuit of it. Radical extremists have given their lives because of it, misguided as some have been. Philosophers have wrestled with this question in their quest for higher living.

Preachers have sought to bring messages of hope to their parish from it, while youth workers have tried to bring direction and meaning for young people who wrestle with this question. At some point we have all faced this question in one form or another, and while the words may differ, the question is, nonetheless, the same.

Now Jesus is addressing this same question to his disciples, in the form of a question.

But please, follow me a little further as His question reminds me of another story I once heard.

At the turn of the century, a rabbi in a Russian city found himself disappointed by a lack of direction and purpose in his life. He wandered out into the chilly evening, aimlessly walking through the empty streets, questioning his faith in God, the Scriptures and his calling to ministry. In his despair, he wandered onto a Russian military compound off limits to civilians.

The silence of the evening air was shattered by the bark of a Russian soldier: “Who are you? What are you doing here?” After a brief moment, the rabbi, in a gracious tone so as not to evoke anger from the soldier, asked, “How much do you get paid every day?”

“What does that have to do with you?” retorted the soldier. The rabbi replied with a tone resembling that of someone who had just made a new discovery: “I will pay you the equal sum if you will ask me those same two questions every day: ‘Who are you?’ and ‘What are you doing here?'”

Those two questions stir in the heart of every person, ‘who am I?’ and ‘what’s my purpose?’ These questions drive the heart’s quest for “identity” and “purpose”. They are our pursuit for significance in life (knowing that our lives “matter”) and purpose (knowing that our lives have “meaning”)

We search for identity in the threads of our genealogy, our island, our village and our family. We hope to find it in the areas of our passions or our contributions to mankind, or the empires we build! It’s the need to know that ‘we matter’, that we will be remembered, and that we made a difference to others, and that we are loved, at least by our family and friends.

We need to know that we have purpose in life, that we’re not just an accident, that regardless of our situation, there is still purpose and meaning to our existence.

In this one interaction with his disciples, Jesus addresses this deeper question with Simon, and it all came about when Simon, received the revelation of Jesus identity.
Firstly: When Simon received the revelation of Jesus’ identity, Jesus revealed to Simon who he was. He said to him, “blessed are you Simon son of Jonah … I tell you that you are Peter!” He changed his name from Simon to Peter! He spoke directly to Peter’s identity!

Jesus has a habit of doing this. He once spoke to a town whore, sitting at a well, next thing you know, she’s the local evangelist and the whole town believed Jesus!

It was written of Saul, that when God’s Spirit came upon him, he became a new man, and he prophesied! Jesus can also do the same for you, as he did with the women at the well, with King Saul, and as he has done with many throughout the ages ... including me. He has revealed to us all our real identity.
Secondly: Jesus said, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom, what you bind and loose on earth has already been loosed in heaven”. In other words, Peter was given a job to do and the authority necessary to get the job done! Peter was given his purpose in life … to bring heaven to earth!

There is great news for everyone! For, this was not Peters purpose, it was God’s purpose for all his loved ones, we are all called to bring heaven to earth, and God has given us the authority to do it!
In this one interaction, Jesus revealed to Peter both his identity and purpose!

But did you notice “when” this was revealed to Peter?

It was when Peter received the revelation of ‘who’ Jesus is. (Ponder that for a moment)

Perhaps in your pursuit of knowing your identity and purpose, you may have been asking the wrong question? Perhaps the question isn’t ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What’s my Purpose in Life?’

Perhaps, the answer to your question lies within a greater question, “Who is Jesus?”

I pray that you pursue this question, until you meet the answer.

Until then, I’ll leave you with a revelation of “when” Jesus knew your identity and purpose – “for God chose us in Christ BEFORE the creation of the world … He predestined us to be adopted into sonship through Jesus, in accordance with his great pleasure and will.” Eph 1:4 & 5

God bless you and welcome to 2022.