Every person around the world is asking three important questions. Questions that need answers for our lives to have meaning and purpose. Who am I? Where do I fit? What difference do I make?
The first is a question about identity, meaning a young person’s conception and expression of who they are. This question holds up the mirror and scrutinizes me. Often this is a question that goes unanswered. For a great many people the discovery of self is pushed aside in favor of being a part of the crowd, getting that big job or promotion, or something else that forces us to look away from who we are and instead forces us into a mold. The church is one place that this happens and everyone is squeezed into the same cookie cutter and asked to conform. And yet it is in the church, at least the one that Jesus is building, where we were called to find ourselves. We were meant to discover our identity by coming to know the One who created us and called us to be. The Bible says, “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone” (Ephesians 1:11, The Message).
We were all created with purpose and meant to live with passion. And when we ignore this first question these get robbed from us and we instead live lives of mediocrity and conformity.
The second is a question of belonging, or a person’s quantity and quality of life-giving relationships. This question looks around the room, eager to explore us. Answering this question without answering the first one is where many people get led astray. We learn early on in life to adapt ourselves for a desired outcome. ‘If I behave this way then people like me.’ Often the desire to fit in over rides our need to be ourself. Both questions are important but they need to be answered together. One cannot look for a place to fit in without taking the time to know who they are inside, and how to express that in the world they live in.
If we look to fit in without knowing ourself we will always be squeezed into the closest mold we find. It is important that we all have a place to belong. A place where others can communicate worth to us. The first place is in a relationship with Jesus. It is the first place and the most secure place to find this value. And it is the place where we will have the highest value. Jesus declared that you and I were worth dying for, and then He proceeded to do just that so that the door of relationship could be opened again.
The third is a question about purpose, or a person’s commitment to and ability to engage in meaningful activities that impact others. This question peers out the window and wonders about our world. All of us start with the dream of changing the world. It often doesn’t take very long for that dream to be taken away. Life keeps coming and the demands it places on us are extreme. And often just being able to pay bills and keep food on the table takes precedence over changing the world.
But every one wants to make an impact and to leave their mark on the world we live in. We all cannot be Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King. But the opportunities to change the world are available to us if we are willing to know ourselves. Because that is the foundation we all build from. Without that foundation the drive to conform will be to high.
“What I really lack is to be clear in my mind what I am to do, not what I am to know… The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do… to find the idea for which I can live and die. SOREN KIERKEGAARD”
The world is looking for people who will rise up with passion and say that there is a better way. To live a life full of purpose and passion is something that we all can do if we are willing. It is up to each of us to determine how will we answer these questions?