Higher in Purpose
The Ring: Who is going to take it? Who ends up stepping up? Frodo Baggins. The Hobbit. The young one. The little one. The one who had big dreams and started with something really small. I love this scene. I will go, though, I do not know the way. There is something so beautiful about this. When we just say, you know what God, I want to do something that matters, that makes a difference, why wouldn’t God want that? “I will go, though I do not know the way…”
The first mission trip I ever went on was to New Orleans two months after Hurricane Katrina hit. Even though I had seen pictures on the news, I didn’t expect the overwhelming destruction I witnessed in person. Houses, streets, buildings were totally leveled and destroyed.
These people were clinging to remnants of hope. One woman asked me to simply climb to her attic to recover a picture she knew was up there. The rest of her house was gone. Mold had taken over, the walls were destroyed, and the home was unlivable. But she just wanted that picture. The team I was on was able to recover the picture and when we gave it to her, she broke down into tears in overwhelming joy. She was so thankful.
And I was pissed.
Her whole house was destroyed and all we could do was simply find a stupid little picture for her? What difference did that make?
My anger turned into an awareness later on in life, and that’s what we’re going to talk about: Giving your life a “Higher Purpose.”
Earlier we talked about one aspect of being a Christ-follower. Tonight, we talking about a second aspect of being a Christ-follower and that is living for a “Higher Purpose” or a “Greater Mission.”
Let me set the scene for you a bit: Jesus lived for 30 years preparing for his “higher purpose and mission.” As he was learning, he spent considerate time teaching others in the synagogues around Galilee where he grew up. But as he was doing this, God was preparing him for the ultimate higher purpose of his life. Jesus heads to Nazareth, his boyhood home, walks into the synagogue, and announces the higher purpose God is calling him to.
This is our scripture from Luke 4:18-19: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Jesus announces his real purpose, his higher calling, right here with this passage from Isaiah 61:1-2. Jesus came to preach good news to the poor, to give freedom to the broken, to give sight to the blind, to release the persecuted and the oppressed, and to proclaim that He was the Messiah, the Lord, the One they’d been waiting for.
Wow. Quite a Mission Statement huh? If you’re like me, I bet you’re thinking “I’m too young, the world is too broken, there are too many poor people, too many rape victims, too many people with AIDS, too many people cutting, too many people suicidal” to make any kind of impact.
Aren’t you? What can one little measly kid do about all the crap in the world? Maybe some of you are like me in New Orleans saying: What the heck doesn’t it matter if I get this little stupid picture? Why can’t I rebuild houses and really make a difference?
When I was in 8th grade, my best friend Evan and I were at our own summer camp together. Every summer, we went to a camp called Camp Mayfield. This year, something really clicked within us. After listening to the speaker talk about the hurting world and how Jesus can change all that, we went off to talk for a while by ourselves. Perhaps a bit beyond our years, we spent hours that night discussing how we were going to impact the WORLD.
To remember the night, we wrote M.A.D. on a rock. Make A Difference. We decided from there on out, whatever we were going to do, we’d try to M.A.D. Evan still has my rock. I kept mine through high school.
Maybe some of you are dreaming those heroic dreams. Maybe some of you have dreamed those before. Maybe you encountered something that really pissed you off, created a holy discontent, and then committed to doing whatever it took to make a difference.
I want to address three things about M.A.D
You’re Not Too Young
David was very young when he killed Goliath. For those of you who don’t know the story, David, then a young, small shepherd boy, decided he was going to be the one who killed this large giant dude named Goliath on the opposing army. David, despite being considerably smaller, took a tiny little rock, wrapped it up, and slung it at Goliath and killed him instantly. This young, little boy, went on to become King of Israel.
This prophet in the Old Testament named Jeremiah tells people the same thing about his purpose: The Lord called him to this crazy life of ministry and witness to the world and when the Lord tells him, he’s like “I’m too young!” And the Lord responds “Don’t say that, for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. And don’t be afraid of people, for I wil be with you and take care of you.”
Recently, I picked up a magazine where a 10-year-old raised over a MILLION dollars for HIV/AIDs victims in Africa by starting a Free Throw Shooting Fundraiser. Another kid I read about, this one a 14 year-old girl, raised thousands of dollars for the military by selling bracelets. In another story, I read a book by these Harris brothers called “Do Hard Things.” The entire premise is that you can do whatever you want no matter how old you are. Screw the “you’re too young” thought. You’re as old as you want to be.
Being young makes no difference. You can write a note to your teacher, be nice to the kid in the corner, and start collecting change for a charity. Don’t let youth be an excuse. You can M.A.D. right here and now.
It’s Not Too Big
The second thing about going “higher in purpose” is that it’s not too big. Just like you can’t be too young, your dreams to “make a difference” can never be too big. Why would they be? If you are following God, why would it be too big for God?
Really quickly, let’s talk about how big God is. People used to explain to me that trying to understand how big God is is like trying to fit the Ocean into a cup. Hmm. Can you do that?
We don’t even understand how big God is, so why not dream big dreams?
Because no one else has a microphone, I want to tell you about my dreams.
First dream: To start a baseball school called Baseball & Beyond. I want this baseball school to teach more than just baseball. Each lesson would be intensely focused on the individual, it would address work ethic, character development and goal setting. Each interaction would be an opportunity to shape a young boy and girl into a stronger person.
Second dream: The Dream Center. I’m addicted to “Changed Lives.” So, I have this dream to start a place where people come and present their dreams to me and a team of people. Together, the Dream Center would weekly meet with the person to “unlock the potential and dreams inside of them.”
Third dream: A Ton of Kids Loving God and getting M.A.D. all over Las Vegas. Why not? I have a dream that CLC will be filled with over 250 kids worshipping Jesus, loving each other, and figuring out ways to change Vegas.
What are your dreams? They aren’t too big for God.
It’s Really, Really Small
If we’re going to M.A.D., we got to get really small. I’m talking, really, really, really small. In fact, Jesus referred to this idea that if we’re going to change the world, we need to have the faith of a “mustard seed.” Let me tell you briefly about mustard seeds.
Mustard seeds are tiny, first of all.
Second, the Jewish peasant farmers he was talking to would have totally understood what mustard was. In fact, they probably spent a considerate amount of time trying to keep this stuff out of their gardens. Mustard was a wild bush, that when it grows, it grows like crazy and overtakes all the order of the garden. Furthermore, when its crushed, it’s used like a Vick’s Vapor Rub. The only time this thing has potency is when you crush it.
And Jesus says, the only way to really make a difference is to have faith like a MUSTARD SEED. If I were Jesus, I would said, the way to make a difference is to crush all the stupid, evil people, give everyone food who’s hungry, give everyone water, spend all our money on helping people get out of poverty, but not something small like a mustard seed.
That’s the difference between me and Jesus. He understands how to make a difference more than anybody in history. Today, there are over 3 billion Christians. One man now has 3 billion people attempting to live like him.
See, what I didn’t know in New Orleans and thing I understand now is that if we’re going to change the world and MAD up in here, we got to start really really really small.
If we don’t do the small acts, the big ones are never going to happen. If we don’t pick up that piece of trash on the road, how are we ever going to care for the homeless person? If we don’t love our brother, how are we ever going to love Osama? If we don’t give 10 dollars, how are we ever going to give 100?
Start small. Do something. You’re not too young, the dreams are not too big, and do something really, really small.