March 8, 2011

Purpose Driven Living

You'd think that a book with the name The Purpose Driven Life: What Am I Here For? would deliver. This book, by Rick Warren, has sold millions of copies and is number one on Amazon's list of Religion & Spirituality books. After reading some reviews, and taking a look at an excerpt of the first few chapters from the author's website, I decided to give the book a whirl. And boy, am I glad I did.

From a young age, I've always had the sense that life is about more than what we can see right in front of us, more than this material world. I've also strongly felt that God has created each of us for a purpose, and that we are to love God by loving and serving those around us. I've recently come to realize that this conviction, this knowledge or wisdom, is a real gift. And while I may be struggling with the particulars of this purpose, I am not lost; I have a firm foundation to build from.

The Purpose Driven Life
put to paper many of these feelings I've had about life's meaning, and as I read each chapter (one a day for 40 days, as the author recommends), I felt my spirit lifting. In this culture of ours, discussion of the true meaning of life is rare. We're constantly inundated with messages that tell us that material things are the key to happiness, that we should live it up, that we should do what we want, do what feels good. Finally, here's a book that reminds us what life is really about. (Though, of course, the Bible did it first.)

The book's organized by five general purposes of life, which Warren discusses in detail and relates to key Biblical passages:

Purpose #1: You were made for God's pleasure
Purpose #2: You were formed for God's family
Purpose #3: You were created to become like Christ
Purpose #4: You were shaped for serving God
Purpose #5: You were made for a mission

Each chapter has a point to ponder, a key Biblical verse to remember, and a question to consider. While answering the questions at times felt tedious, I'm glad I took the time to do it, because this is where I felt I got the most out of the book. Significant insights came to me through considering my own life and experiences in light of scripture and the purpose discussed in each chapter.

Some ideas that stood out to me:
  • Prayer lets you speak to God. Meditation lets God speak to you. 
  • "The essence of love is not what we think or do or provide for others, but how much we give of ourselves.... Love means giving up—yielding my preferences, comfort, goals, security, money, energy, or time for the benefit of someone else."
  • "You discover your role in life through your relationships with others."
  • Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It is thinking of yourself less. 
  • Our time on earth is about building and strengthening our character for heaven. 
  • Believe God is working in your life even when you don't feel it. 
  • God never wastes anything; He matches our calling and our capabilities. God wants to say something to the world through each of us.
These are just some of the many insights this book offers. Overall, it's a great guide to having a closer relationship with God, both in prayer and reflection, and throughout our daily lives. Purpose driven living is not only about being aware of what we're here for, but also letting this knowledge inform how we live our lives—and this is the great challenge of the Christian life.

[Image from here.]

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