Last week, I covered two of the four new opportunities that a new year can bring for those who are seeking continual growth and transformation. Let me start with this statement: in life— especially the Christian life, if you’re standing still, you’re falling behind.
So, a question: in this new year, are you moving forward? Are you being renewed? I say this because our Lord makes all things new. As the Lord declared through His prophet Isaiah, “Remember not the former things, nor the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” Well, as for me, I certainly want to.
As Christians, we have such an opportunity for God to do a new thing in us. To refresh us, just like Isaiah prophesied. This new year, allow God to work on you to give your life new possibilities, new paths— and, as we’ll be exploring today, new perspective and new purpose!
New Year, New Perspective.
This word is typically defined as a particular attitude toward something, a point of view. In fact, I like how Merriam-Webster defines the word perspective, as “the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance.”
For Christians, I believe that our perspectives are constantly being refined (or they should be), and in some cases, made new, as we grow in the “grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). In that verse, grace is obviously key—we are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8).
But what about knowledge? Well, that is also key. It is knowledge of God and His Son that we glean from the Scriptures that the world does not have. It is this knowledge that, as Dallas Willard said in his book, “Living In Christ’s Presence,” makes witnessing Christians the most important people in society. It is because they bring knowledge as to what time and eternity are all about. And it is this eternal Perspective that refines and guides us, by causing us to see the world, ourselves and our Lord for what and who they are. May our perspectives align with our Lord’s, as we grow in the grace and knowledge of Him!
New Year, New Purpose.
So it follows, as our perspective is changed and/or refined, so it will be with our Purpose, as we align ourselves with Him.
So what is important to Jesus? To answer that, let’s consider what He said to His men during one of His last appearances to them. Actually even before that, on the eve of His death, as He was praying to His Father, He reiterated His desire for eternal life to come to as many as He was given, through knowing God (John 17:2). That was His prayer, not just for His people at the time, but for all in redemptive history— which thankfully includes us! After His resurrection, He told His own (again, this includes us)— what He wanted them to do. That is, to make disciples— Christ followers. Talk about purpose!
You may be saying at this juncture, “He couldn’t mean me! What can I do? I can’t preach or even articulate about myself or my faith!” Well, He does mean you— and it has nothing to do with your skills, it has to do with His authority. The authority Jesus has and gives to us as we carry out the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20). When He told them, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples…” As Willard put it, “Jesus was telling them, ‘I have been given say over everything.’ We are not sent out without equipment. We are sent out with all the equipment we could possibly use, and as we go, we make disciples.”
I think it’s important to note that making disciples has less to do with what you say and more to do with who you are— but it is a combination. It’s a matter of pulling people, of drawing them in through witnessing our lives and wanting what we have for themselves. When we follow Jesus and His mandate for His disciples, we help usher people into His Kingdom.
How does this sound for purpose: to bring the life of the kingdom to others? Here at ICC, we place a huge premium on equipping people for discipleship. Check this out for a place to start.
-Pastor Joe Garofalo