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"I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me." -Song of Songs 7:10, NASB
All of us need to live for something bigger than the routines of life. No matter what we achieve, we will live with a sense of futility unless what we do transcends the here and now. What's this life about? What's happening? There is only one place to go for the answer-to God himself! What is he doing in this world? A futile life is one lived by an agenda that has no connection with God's purposes.
It doesn't matter how fast we might be going, how high we think we are flying, or where we think we are headed, if we are not living according to God's purposes, ultimately our lives are futile.
What Is God About in This World?
EPHESIANS 1:3-10 CONTAINS vital information as to what God is doing in the world right now. The apostle Paul wrote it to a group of new believers in a corrupt society. He wanted them to understand that despite all they saw going on, God was at work and they were a vital part of God's eternal purposes.
1. Read Ephesians 1:3-10. How does Paul describe God's purpose?
2. Jesus is central to the working out of God's eternal purposes. On many occasions Jesus stated why he came into the world. In the following passages, underline his stated purposes.
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)
"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." (Luke 19:10)
"God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again." (John 3:17, MSG)
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." (John 10:10-11)
What is significant to you about Jesus' stated purpose(s)?
3. John recorded this prayer Jesus prayed in the last days before his death and resurrection. The prayer reveals the part Jesus saw his followers playing in the outworking of God's eternal purpose. Underline the part we are to play.
"My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." (John 17:15-23)
How would you summarize our role, as Jesus describes it?
God is at work today in this world. He is bringing together a people who for all eternity will live to worship and reflect his glory. His people are in the world today for the sake of those who are not yet worshipers of God and followers of Christ.
God wants every aspect of our daily lives to be a reflection of his eternal purposes. As insiders we can participate with what God is doing in the world today, right where we are. Insiders are vital to making visible the invisible purposes of God.
Our Job Description
4. Based on what you have learned from the passages in this session, write a job description for the followers of Jesus in the world.
Qualifications (Who do I need to be in the process of becoming? That is, what attributes do I need to further develop?:)
Functions (What am I supposed to do?):)
Vital relationships (Who do I need to help me be and do these things?:)
5. What goes through your mind when you think about God inviting you to take this on as your job description? What immediate appeal or objections do you sense inside you?
6. Review the past month. List the names of people with whom you have had social time: eating out or in, seeing a movie, and so on. Now put an asterisk next to the unbelievers. What does your list say about your priorities?
7. As you go through the next seven days, look for opportunities to say "hello" to unbelievers. Notice whether you smile. Notice whether you feel interested in them or really want to be left alone. Notice what they do. Record your observations and report them to your group the next time you meet.
Excerpted from The Insider WORKBOOK by Jim Petersen Mike Shamy Copyright © 2003 by Mike Shamy and Jim Petersen. Excerpted by permission.
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