T h i s _W e e k ' s _S e r m o n

“Purpose Driven Joy”
Hebrews 12: 1-2; Luke 12: 49-56

lasé Pascal pointed out that all of the miseries of life stemmed from a single cause: Our inability to remain quietly in our room. He asked, “Why must a man with sufficient to live on feel drawn to divert himself on long sea voyages? To dwell in another town? To go off in search of peppercorn?” This question helped Brice Chatwin deal with what he called, the question of questions; the reason for human restlessness. Of course the Bible teaches that all humans are restless until they spiritually rest in the assurance of knowing God. (Ps 37:7) Chatwin had a lifelong wanderlust that led him to the far corners of the globe. He used his passion for travel as a traveling journalist and published many books. However, he was never at rest, and seldom at home in England. As we say colloquially, “He had an itch that he could not scratch.”

We Americans, as do all free people, feel that we have a right to happiness. Some may think that the federal government is supposed to supply joy. According to our Declaration of Independence we Americans have an, “...inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness.” We are correct that independence, liberty and freedom do give us the opportunity to find joy and happiness, but it is never a given: As our forefathers framed it: happiness is achieved on a journey, a quest, it is a “pursuit.” We have to be the aggressors seeking our own happiness.

But what do we pursue, exactly? If mammon guaranteed happiness we Carrelltonians would be the happiest people in the world. What a wonderful life we lead in this wonderland, just the right distance away from the city of Atlanta, and its congestion, impersonalization, and pressure to drive the biggest car.

One source of joy is the ordinary events of life that gives us great satisfaction. When we think of happy times don’t we nearly always remember events like family vacations and Christmas celebrations around the hearth? Many joyful times also happen within the love of our church family: the Christening of an infant, the commitment to Christ by a young person, Big Church Weddings, surrounded by friends, family, eating big and many other things that the Father of the Bride can spend all of his money on. But you don’t really count the cost for what you are doing is priceless. Even funerals can take on a sense of deep abiding joy as we temporarily say goodbye to our dear ones in the joyful hope of reunion. Church friends are typically our best friends. Our group retreats, small Bible studies, committees and Sunday School Classes gives us an opportunity to be with some of our favorite friends ever Sunday and during the week. As one fellow remarked at his Class Christmas Party, “This is about as good as it gets."

Our Christian Faith takes the secular notion of joy to a higher level. Hebrews 12: 2 says; “for the sake of the joy that was set before Him, Jesus endured the Cross disregarding the shame and pain, and has taken His seat at the right hand at the throne of God.” The Passion of the Cross was a terrible ordeal; however it was His purpose, His calling to fulfill. It was God’s plan for His Messiah and Jesus fulfilled it. In Luke 12: 49 Jesus refers to the Cross as, “a baptism of fire,” and He spoke of, “the great stress He would be under” until it was accomplished.

Jesus is not referring to the agony of death itself as a joy, it was terrible in every way, it was possibly the worse form of execution that a person could endure; however, Jesus endured that temporary pain in order to reap the great joy of fulfilling His purpose. He was born to die. If He had changed his mind at the end and magically flown down from the Cross like a giant eagle, He would missed His purpose for being born. He was born to go through the baptism of fire and pain that we might live and have great joy, peace, contentment and a purpose for living. His purpose was to give us a purpose.

Rick Warren has helped us focus on finding our purpose and apply that to daily living and to our church life. The Purpose Driven Life, has been on the best seller list for some years and has been read by millions. Hard nosed aggressive people are attracted by the word “Driven.” However, the book, written by a mild mannered, ordinary, California style guy who preaches to fifteen thousand every Sunday in a Hawaiian shirt and no socks, who admits that his plan for founding Saddleback Community Church, secretly Southern Baptist, has no magic formula. Mostly it’s the same stuff that all of us ought to be doing: Joyful Worship, Spiritual Growth unto maturity, Fellowship and fun in a Christian setting, Evangelism which is sharing our faith in a personal way with our circle of influence and Serving others through fulfilling mission projects (By the way we need fifteen volunteers to help with our Fall Habitat House)

Our church is already offering all five of these basics of church life, but we need more folks to become Driven by their Purpose. Do we have a purpose in life, a calling to which we are driven to fulfill, that will bring us joy?

Having a purpose driven life satisfies our wanderlust, restlessness and gives us joy. I do not think you can buy this commodity at and other car lot, movie theater, sports field or high position in life. There is no place we can visit that will fulfill our yearning for more trips and travel; indeed, we might be able to sit in our room alone and commune with God. And think what it would mean if we began to hear His whisper.

And we might get up and re-enter the world asking ourselves, How can I fulfill my great Purpose and receive this Joy?

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
8/15/04, P-11-C