A Purpose For Living

Hello friends.  This post contains the sermon preaching on November 1, 2015, at The Patterson Avenue Baptist Church.  The sermon is titled:  “A Purpose for Living” and is based on Jesus words recorded in Mark 12:28-34.

We all long to find the answer to that age-old philosophical inquiry:  “Why Am I Here?”  “What Is The Purpose For My Existence?”  One day, a religious leader approached Jesus seeking an answer to that basic question.  He asked:  “Of all the commandment of God, WHICH is the MOST Important?”

We spend a LOT OF TIME, majoring on the minors.  Jesus brought attention to what really matters.  That’s what this sermon is all about…exploring what Jesus said really matters.

There are several links on this page to make such SHARING much easier. If the blog publisher provides ways to subscribe to RSS feed, Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, or other social media site…please join/follow/like – whatever the right term is for that media.

The sermon video and manuscript is below.

A Purpose For Living
Mark 12:28-34 (NIV)

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

An elderly woman went to her doctor’s office. When the doctor asked why she was there, the woman replied, “I’d like to get some birth-control pills.”

The doctor thought for a moment, then said, “Excuse me, Mrs. Smith, but you’re 72 years old. What possible use could you have for birth control pills?”

The lady responded, “They help me sleep better!”

“They help you sleep better?” the doctor inquired. “What makes you think that birth control pills help you sleep better?”

“You see, I live with my daughter, son-in-law, and their six children,” the woman said.

“I still don’t understand,” the doctor said. “How do birth control pills help you sleep better.”

“That’s simple. Every morning I put them in my daughter’s orange juice. Then I am able to sleep a lot better at night.”

The woman had a very definite purpose to her actions.

Let me ask you a question.

Does your life have a definite purpose? Do you know the “WHY?” to your existence?

There are a lot of contemporary media philosophies that attempt to feed us with answers to that questions.

Fear Factor – the purpose of life is to find the next rush

Survivor – aim to survive and get the prize at the end of the day

Star Trek – life is all about the journey toward something new

This Week In Washington – it’s all about politics

Code Black (ER) – We just moving from one tragedy to the next

Antique Road Show – the older something is, the more valuable

Beer Commercials – life is a party so go for the gusto

Law and Order – life is all about obeying rules and regulations

Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, Avengers, Thor – Be somebody’s hero

What is your purpose for living?

Jesus was asked to shed light on the “WHY?” question once during his ministry. It happened one day when a religious leader approached, asking: “What is the greatest commandment in the law?”

He was looking or a sense of divine direction and meaning for life.
He is saying, “Jesus, if you boil it all down to the bare essentials stripping away all the commentary, what is the most important thing in life?”

“What is the purpose of life?”

“Why are we here?”

Jesus answer is clear, specific, and to the point: “Here’s the most important thing for you to remember. You are too love the Lord you God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

Everything else rest on these two commandment. They express our PURPOSE. Let’s look at this is detail.

I. Jesus says, “Love The Lord Your God!”

I want you to paint a mental picture with me. Paint a picture of a room in your house. As you paint this mental picture, include two people in that room: YOU and GOD.

Now answer these questions.

In that picture, how do YOU and GOD relate to one another?

Are you intimately connected, or distant and apart?
Do you feel close to God or far away from God”
Do you see God as stern or smiling?
Is God somebody you can warm up to or somebody to avoid?
Are you afraid of God or do you sense God’s pleasure over you?

Why are these questions important?

The text says: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’”

Jesus covers everything.

The heart was the Hebrew’s culture’s “seat of emotion.” It’s that place of feelings and passion.

The soul was the person’s intention – their focus and will-power.

The mind was the intellect.

Strength speaks of the energy wrapped up in one’s body.

Jesus is saying, “You should love God with all your passion, with all your intentions, with all your thoughts, and with every ounce of strength you’ve got in you.”

Now let me ask you this? Can you love God like that if you think God is distancing himself from you? Can you love God like that if your feel alienated from God? Can you love God like that if you feel that God does not like you, love you, accept, include, and adopt you?

The answer to these rhetorical questions is a obvious “NO!” We find it impossible to love anybody who does not love us. Our love for God is not aimed at gaining God’s favor. Our love is always a response to being loved by God. We are taught in scripture that we “love God because God first loved us.”

This is why Jesus spent his ministry speaking about his Father in terms that glowed with affection, love, and passion for all people.
What is the most famous verse of scripture humanity? You find it in John 3:16: “For God so LOVED the world…”

The qualities that Jesus paints of God are those of passion love – kindness, generosity, mercy, and grace. If we do not see a glimpse of that picture of God, it will be impossible for us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Bottom line: Our view of God determines whether we feel we can love God!

If we see God as some sort of ogre – some distant, uncaring, “man upstairs” who needs to be feared and placated, we will never be able to LOVE God will our whole being. We will never be able to love God fully and enjoy the blessings of an intimate relationship with our Creator–with our heavenly Father.

II. Jesus also teaches that we should “Love ourselves!”

I know that that phrase is not spoken, but it is certainly implied. Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Before Jesus gets into the ethics of interpersonal relations, he speak of the importance of having a healthy love of self.

Juan Carlos Ortiz, writes about how he came to realize the importance of loving oneself in his book: Living With Jesus Today He writes:

… the Holy Spirit talked to me. “Do you know what your problem is, Juan Carlos?” He asked me. “You haven’t accepted yourself as you are.”

“Wait a minute,” I interjected. “How can I accept myself as I am knowing myself as I do? I can’t possibly accept myself. Actually, l am very upset with how I am doing. My character is very poor. No, I can’t accept myself!”

The Lord seemed to get a little upset with me. ‘ ‘If the blood of Jesus My Son is good enough for Me, who are you for it not to be good enough for you?”

He challenged. “Are you better than I?”

I began to see that acceptance has nothing to do with performance. No matter how bad I am…Jesus is sufficient. And if God had forgiven me and accepted me such as I was, then I had better accept myself.

Here’s our problem. We think God’s acceptance is based on our performance. It’s not. God acceptance of us is based on God’s grace for us. Grace is not something we earn. It is something freely given because God passionately and completely loves us. There are no ifs, ands, or buts tacked on to the gift of God’s love.

Then these is the other part of that equation. Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ …(and)… ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

As we receive God’s love, love God in return, and develop a healthy love of self – the byproduct to all that impacts our relations with other. We will find the passion to…

III. “Love our neighbors as we love ourselves.”

Jesus was once asked about loving one’s neighbor by another religious leader. Do you remember the story? Jesus speaks of loving one’s neighbor, and the religious leader says, “Okay, Jesus, exactly who is my neighbor?”

Do you remember how Jesus responded? He told a story about a traveler who fell among thieves, was beaten, robbed, and left for dead. A couple of good religious types came upon the victim of crime, but did nothing to help. Then came a foreigner, a Samaritan half-breed, the worst of the worst to the religious mindsets way of thinking. It was this Samaritan who paid the price and did what needed to be done to show kindness and love to the one who’d been beaten and abused.

It’s like Jesus was turning the tables on the guy. A good neighbor is what we are called to be. Jesus is saying that we are to be like the Samaritan and care for others. We are to treat others the way we would want to be treated. We are to treat others the way God has treated us.

What’s life’s purpose?

When you strip away all the commentary, what really matters is that we respond to God love with love. What really matters is that we love one another the way we want to be loved.
And yet there is a little more happening in this text, isn’t there? There is a bit of a twist.

Do you remember the old Maxwell Smart television series?

Something would happen…maybe a gun would be fired that would just barely miss its intended target. What was it that Max would say?

“Missed it by THAT much!”

The religious leader compliments Jesus on his great answer. “You are right on target, Jesus. Nothing is more important than loving God, ourselves, and those around us. Well said, Jesus! Well said!”

What does Jesus say? “Missed it by THAT much!”

Here’s exactly what he says from the text: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

I have to tell you that I have spent most of my time this week thinking, studying, and meditating on this single sentence from the passage.

Jesus had been engaging in theological discussions and debates with religious leaders. We see this at the initial part of the text. One religious leader passes by and sees how well Jesus performing in these debates. He always seems to have the right answer…the right words. So he asked a question:

“What the most important of all commandments?” “How do our lives find meaning and purpose?”

Jesus answered the question. He answered it to the liking of the one who asked. He answered to the liking of all those who were standing in the crowd. They were dumbfounded and hushed by the clarity and simplicity of Jesus answer.

“God loves you. So you should love God completely, without reservation, holding nothing back. And you should love yourself and other people with the same. Everything rests on these two simple commandments.”

“Well said, Jesus. You are exactly right. Amen!”

Jesus says, “You are not far from the kingdom of God”, which is to say: “You missed it by that much.”

Here’s the best I can tell of what’s happening here. It’s like when you and I hear a sermon, Bible study, or some other teacher that really resonates with our spirit.

“That’s great,” we say.

“What a good word,” we continue.

“Amen and praise the Lord.”

We speak in glowing terms about how good God is, but there seems to be no evidence in our daily lifestyle that we really believe it. It’s all just lip service. “Missed it by that much!”

A guy stop by the church this past Monday.

“Praise the Lord, pastor. How are you? Let me begin with a praise report. I just was given custody of my three children. God is good, pastor. Can I give you a hug.”

“Okay, sure!” I said, as he gave me a hug.

“Now what I need, pastor, is just a few dollars for gas in my car so I can get to work.”

“I’d love to help you out,” I replied. “But I have no cash on me and we don’t keep any in the office.” I pointed to the sign on the door that shares that bit of information.

I was about to offer another solution. I was going to offer to drive with him to a nearby gas station where I would pay for some gas for his car. But before I could say that, he dropped the F-bomb and few times and stomped off in a fit of rage.

At first he is saying, “Praise the Lord” and “God is good!”

The next moment he is dropping the f-bomb. He missed getting what he was looking for “by that much.”

Now, I do not want you to spend too much time focused on this fellow. I want us to think about ourselves. You see, there is not much difference between saying, “Amen!” “Good word!” and “Nice message!” and then not surrendering to the Holy Spirit so that genuine transformation can begin.

The Spirit invites us to offer more than just words of affirmation. He invites us to express the faith to more fully surrender to his love and grace.


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