That question can be difficult to answer if we look past the surface.
Our purpose is sometimes clearly defined, for example: as mother or father, sister or brother. Sometimes it is far more obscure, what is your purpose for being here right now? Is this an easy question for you to answer?
But if I were to ask, "What is your reason?"
This is something we have far less difficulty answering. We give reasons all of the time, sometimes legitimately but others are given as excuses. What is your reason for being right here, right now? How many of us can answer this question much easier than the first?
Several weeks ago I heard the statement;
"There needs to be a reason for there to be a purpose."
I wrote it down then and began to think about what it says. What really comes first, reason or purpose? Or are they the same thing?
To avoid some confusion, I want to first say that I believe these two things are not the same. Purpose does not equal reason. "The reason for life" is not the same as "The purpose of life." Purpose is underlying and independent, reason is fickle and subjective.
Grammatically, Purpose is the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists while Reason is a cause, explanation or justification for an action or event.
This struck me as interesting and caused me apply it to Christian belief. If the original statement were true, that "There needs to be a reason for there to be a purpose" our faith would simply be the reason we believe in and have a purpose for Jesus as our savior. In fact, the purpose for Christian faith is knowing that Jesus is our savior and that is what leads to the reasons we accept or deny him in our lives. The sentence is backwards! It should read; "There needs to be a purpose for there to be a reason." If we live this way our reasons for doing things becomes much more clear and consistent, we are living for our purpose of honoring our Savior.
Purpose and reason are both common themes in the Bible, here are just a few examples of scriptures with "purpose."
Discussion of purpose is a prominant throughout the Book of Ecclesiastes, for example (Ecclesiastes 3:14 NLT): "And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him."
Purpose is mentioned in Proverbs (19:21 NLT) "You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail."
And as Jesus taught about the Laws of Moses from the Book of Matthew (5:17-18 NLT): “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved."
Do we always keep our faith in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as our purpose? Or do we give reasons for what we do? For me, sometimes worldy problems and human weakness cause me to find reasons for straying from my purpose. I found the following motivational quote that I am hopeful can help me in times when I revert to reason instead of following purpose.
"Think in terms of your purpose. Connect your awareness to whatever drives you, and it will drive you far indeed. Purpose will find a way around the most stubborn obstacles. Purpose will bring the most meaningful and valuable possibilities into reality. Follow the purpose that is truly you. And effectiveness, enthusiasm, achievement, joy and fulfillment will all flow into your life."
(Ralph Marston-The Daily Motivator)
So, let me ask the first question again, "What is your purpose?"
As we partake of the elements of communion, let us meditate on purpose. Jesus was conveying His purpose at the last supper when he was describing the bread as His body, which would soon be broken. "As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26 NLT) At the time, the disciples were confused at this and the final fulfillment of Jesus' purpose on Earth which was to soon follow. Let us remember the purpose for God sending His only son to Earth to live as a man and die on the cross for all of our sins. May this serve as the purpose for our faith and guide us in all we do.
May we bow our heads in a word for the loaf?