Lost in the Attachment
You receive an urgent email from your boss with the following request:
“Please complete this assignment prior to my return from vacation. Remember to work hard, have a positive attitude, and be a team player. We’ll catch up when I am back in the office.”
You scan the email repeatedly because something isn’t quite clear. What exactly is the task?
Coworkers crowd around your computer and look on in bewilderment. You each attempt to discern what seems to be a hidden code. Your boss was clear about how you are to conduct yourself, but what is the assignment? Everyone has their own idea as to what it may be, but nothing seems to make sense.
Finally, the newly hired intern walks by and asks what the commotion is all about. Upon hearing your explanation, she asks to see the email for herself. Taking one glance at it, she begins giggling and asks: “Did you open the attachment?”
Many of us pretend we are in a similar situation as we follow Christ. We know how to conduct ourselves in a godly manner, but we are fuzzy on what our purpose is. We understand that Jesus has given us morals to live by and standards to live up to, but we miss the context entirely. He has not only directed us on how we should live but what we should do. In other words, he has given us an assignment. This life assignment is clear, but we often skip over it without noticing. We ignore it like an attachment in an email from our boss. We attempt to adopt the character of Jesus without the mission of Jesus, and we are left aimlessly wondering what God’s will is for our lives. Make no mistake: You cannot truly live out Christian principles without the Christian purpose. Both the principles and the purpose are clear in God’s word, and we should strive to align our lives accordingly.
How to live (principles) is best summarized in the Great Commandment:
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-39
What to do (purpose) is best summarized in the Great Commission:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
You cannot separate these two. If you attempt to make disciples without love, you are going to make dangerously unhealthy disciples if you make any at all. If you attempt to love without making disciples, you are going to be demonstrating a love that falls vastly short of the love God intends to show the world through you. Most believers are generally aware of how to live out godly principles. We learn right from wrong at an early age and commit to living morally in whatever we do. But then we have no idea what it is that we should do. We spend our time wondering what God’s will is for our lives, but we do not realize he has told us what it is. As a result, the mission is taken out of the Christian life and we find ourselves pursuing after the same pursuits as the rest of the world. The only difference is that we apply godly principles and do these things in an ethical, “Christlike” manner. But can we call something “Christlike” that has no regard for the mission Christ himself aimed to accomplish? We must open the email attachment! It is not hidden from us. He has given us more than just a way to live; he has given us exactly what we should do.
His assignment for us is not up for debate, and you do not have to decode the message. He has made us his ambassadors, entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. He commanded us to be his witnesses as we make disciples of all nations until the mission is complete. Based on the authority of scripture, this is God’s will for your life. It is in the context of this mission that we love other people, work as if working for the Lord, and live out the various fruits of the Spirit. Godly principles were not simply meant to bring life to our own purposes, but to the purpose of the King. Let us aim to increase in godly character as we sprint after the unchanging, eternal purpose given to us by our Lord!