Tuesday, June 11, 2013

While the Pastor Preached

If you are a church goer, I'm sure you have experienced what I frequently do. During the sermon something will be said, or a Scripture will be read, that sets off a chain of thoughts. My mind follows down that rabbit trail (though I think it is, at least some of the time, a worthwhile rabbit trail). By the time I tune back in, I have missed a significant portion of the sermon. I feel badly about that. The preacher has worked hard on the message. It is definitely worth listening to.

I comfort myself over my wandering mind with the thought that it is one of  the purposes of a sermon to stimulate thought in the congregation.

And, speaking of purpose, here is where my wandering mind went last Sunday. . . .

The topic of the message dealt with parenthood--God's parenthood and human parenthood--and the need to instill in our children a sense of purpose in life. Mention was made of the wildly successful book The Purpose Driven Life and the way that demonstrated the hunger for purpose that we all have. That was such a jumping off place for my thoughts.

A few years ago the minister of the congregation I was part of preached a series of sermons based on the book and urged the congregation to read an assigned portion each week. For some people this was an eye-opening, meaningful, helpful, healing experience.

It made me crazy.

There's a little analytical person who lives in the back of my head that cannot accept the concept that God wanted me to be born for a specific purpose and picked out the very parents who could thus produce me and does the same for every single human being. Oh, the child conceived by rape--God wanted that? The brutal, abusive parents--God especially chose them? You see where I am going with that. So, while I so disagree with that warm-fuzzy blanket viewpoint, I certainly do agree that God can and is eager to give purpose to every life. And part of God's purpose is to heal the scars left by the unfortunate circumstances some are born into. And Scripture shows us that God values our lives, no matter how they came to be.

God has from time to time chosen, before they were born or even conceived, certain people for certain jobs. Think Isaac, Samuel, Sampson (though he mostly blew it), John the Baptist, and Jesus, to name a few from the Bible.

In speaking of Purpose, I have come to look at it as actually two things.

The Purpose of Life.

Our Purpose in Life.

They are not the same thing.

This post is growing long. I see I cannot do what I want in one post. So--

To Be Continued.

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