Jesus brings purpose to our lives. I think this may be one of the more important themes for our sermon series in this year. The reductive naturalism which dominates the culture in which we live tells people that they have no inherent purpose, nothing which was born in them. The universe, including their lives, are just the result of random and impersonal causes. This is handy if you are doing something wicked, but if you are a person who just wants to live, this is a disaster. Why bother?
We see this in the disaffected person, the youth who has given up on ever better themselves or contributing to society. Why not play video games all the day long in my parents’ basement? After all, it won’t make any difference. But we also see it in the frenetic attempts to give life meaning and purpose. The young person who is in five clubs, three varsity sports, the school play and volunteers at the pet shelter. Often such young people are desperately trying to create a purpose in life.
This week Jesus gives purpose to us. Notice, we do not get to define it. Isaiah is not looking for this purpose when God shows up. Peter certainly is not either. Last week, Jeremiah tried to beg off because he was too young. Moses claimed to stutter. The list goes on. Matthew was busy collecting taxes when Jesus found him and the demoniac of Mark 5 wanted to run away from the people to whom Jesus sent him. God defines and gives us purpose. It is not something we get to chose. That is a blessing for the faithful and a challenge to the self-idolatrous. The preacher has a big job.