In a sermon entitled, "Why God Made You," Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California explained five simple but profound truths which help us understand why we are here. The author of "The Purpose Driven Life" says he considers this to be the most important message he has shared in 35 years of teaching. "If I only had one sermon to preach, it would be this message - to teach you why God made you and what you're supposed to do with your life," he says.
"God has never created anything without a purpose ... and if your heart is beating and your breathing, there's a purpose for your life," Warren stated. Just as an inventor fashions an object with a specific purpose in mind, so also God had a reason for creating each one of us (see Ephesians 1:11-12, Colossians 1:16, and Revelation 4:11). "The very fact that you're alive makes your life meaningful," he says.
Because He made us, He is the best source to seek for the purpose of our existence. It doesn't make sense to "look within" or to trust in the world's thoughts on why we were created; "Only your creator can tell you what your purpose is," Warren says - "You didn't create you." We should seek God for such knowledge, and He has detailed His purpose for our lives in the Bible. "You were made by God, you were made for God; until you understand that, your life is never going to make sense ... you've got to start with God," Warren says.
The vast majority of our lives will be spent in eternity, Warren explains - and this life is meant to be preparation for the next, the "dress rehearsal before the real show begins." God wants us to practice here on Earth what we will do in Heaven forever: to love God, to love His family, to become like Christ, to serve the Lord, and to fulfill His mission.
To Know God and to Love Him
God created us for His pleasure - "He didn't need you. God is totally satisfied in Himself ... but He wanted you. That shows how valuable you are," Warren says.
Psalm 149:4 says, "For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He adorns the humble with salvation" (English Standard Version). Human beings are made in God's image, and it pleased Him to give us the capacity to love Him back. The ability to pray or to worship is unique to humans - it does not apply to animals or plants. There is therefore a unique calling on our lives: we were made to love Him.
The more we get to know God, the more we will love Him. "God knows everything about you, you know almost nothing about God," Warren says - "God loves you in spite of everything He knows about you. God wants you to learn to know Him and love Him back. The Bible calls this 'worship.'" In Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus summarizes the whole Old Testament - we are to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and we are also called to love others.
In Hosea 6:6, God says, "For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings."
"It doesn't matter how many things you accomplish, how many things you achieve ... how much money you make. If at the end of each day, you don't know God a little bit better and love Him a little bit more, you just wasted that day. Because God did not create you and put you on earth just to mark things off your to-do list," says Warren - "He put you here ... to know Him and love Him."
To Learn How to Love Others in God's Family
When you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, you become a child of God (see John 1:12 and Ephesians 1:5). God calls His children the 'church' (see 1 Timothy 3:15); the church is not an institution or an organization - "The church is a family ... we are children of God, which makes us brothers and sisters in the family of God," says Warren.
God desires for those in Christ to be knit together as brothers and sisters in Christ, members of one another as part of His body (see Romans 12:5 and Colossians 2:19). "[God] doesn't want you just to believe, He wants you to belong. To be connected," Warren says - "We're made to be in community ... we're made to be in relationship." While our physical family will one day pass away, our spiritual family relationships will last for all of eternity.
"The church is the laboratory for learning real love," Warren says. It is only when we walk closely with others in God's family that we can know them deeply and learn how to love one another the way that He does. The greater the differences that we have with those we fellowship with are, the greater the potential for growth is.
To Become Like Christ
Jesus honored God the Father completely, and thus lived a life as fully as a human being can. Warren says we need to learn to think, to act, to respond, and to value things like Jesus does. "God wants you to grow up spiritually, and the model of perfection is Jesus," he says.
While the world might be impressed by achievement, God cares much more about who we are becoming than what we have accomplished. "You're not taking your career to heaven ... you're taking your character," Warren says.
God created us in His image, and wants us to express His character (see Romans 8:29). He makes us more like Christ by putting us in situations that cause us to grow. We never have to wonder why we are going through something, Warren says - "The answer to all the 'why' questions in life is this: to make you like Jesus."
Galatians 5:22-23 gives us the perfect picture of Jesus' character - "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." God doesn't make us like Christ overnight - these character traits are imparted to us through the Holy Spirit by way of suffering. God uses painful experiences like a megaphone to help us become who He wants us to be - "God whispers to us in our pleasure, but He shouts to us in our pain," Warren says.
Warren believes that God will often put us in situations that seem to be the exact opposite of what He is trying to instill in us - "If God's going to teach you real love, He's going to put you around unlovely people so that you have to learn to love ... How is God going to teach you patience? By testing it. By irritation. By chaos. It's easy to be patient and at peace when everything's going your way ... but real peace and real patience are learned in the middle of chaos."
Thankfully, Jesus is our empathetic High Priest; He was lonely, He was hurt, and He was let down by others - yet He was patient, forgiving, and kind. "If God let His own Son go through all of that, don't you think He's going to let you go through it, too?" Warren asks, explaining that God is much more interested in our character than He is in our comfort. The beauty is that God will comfort us in whatever trials we walk through - and that perfect, complete, and eternal comfort is to come soon and very soon for those in Christ.
To Serve the Lord by Serving Others
God has given us spiritual gifts, passions, abilities, and we have been through different experiences which can bless and build up the body (see Ephesians 2:10 and 1 Peter 4:10) - "He uniquely shaped you to fulfill a unique purpose here on the planet Earth," Warren says.
Warren scoffs at the thought that we will sit around and play a harp in the afterlife. "You're not going to sit around and do nothing in heaven" Warren says - "You're going to serve." We will serve God in Heaven, and He wants us to practice here.
To Be on Mission
God made us for His mission. Just as the Father sent Jesus to do His will, so the Lord sends us to do His mission (see John 17:18). Paul explains this mission in Acts 20:24 - "But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."
"God has a mission and a message that He wants to explain through you to the world," Warren says. That gospel message is this - that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, lived a perfect life, yet suffered and died in our place on the cross so that we would not have to bear the wrath of God for our sin. He was buried, and He rose again three days later. God now offers forgiveness for those who call on His Son for salvation (see Ephesians 2:1-10).
Warren ended the sermon with a plea from Psalm 34:8 - "Open your eyes and see how good God is ... blessed are you who run to Him."
"If I only had one message to preach in my entire life, it would be this," Warren says - "Open your eyes to the goodness of God. Receive the love of God. No man will ever love you - no woman will ever love you - like your Creator does. Like Jesus Christ does ... If somebody loved you so much [that] they died for you, wouldn't you want to know them? Somebody did die for you. His name is Jesus Christ - and He died for you to pay for all the things that you've done wrong so [that] you could live a life of purpose."
"You were put here for these purposes," he says - "To ignore them is an enormous waste of your life."
Matthew 11:28-30 says, "Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."
Pastor Warren invites you to pray this prayer in response to God's message of salvation:
"Dear God, everything You create has a purpose, including me. I don't want to miss my purpose, or waste my life, or live it disconnected to You anymore. Instead, I want to become what You designed me to be. Starting today, I want to follow Your plan for my life, not my plan. You made me for a relationship with You, so I want to get to know You and love You and trust You. Thank You for sending Jesus to pay for my sin. Help me to understand that. I humbly ask You to accept me into Your family forever. I want to grow more like Jesus every day. And I want to use my life on earth to serve You by serving others. Help me to share this Good News with others and to fulfill my life mission. I invite You into every area of my life."