BORN WITH A PURPOSE
In the LIFE Bible Study Series Serve God, My Black Life: My Fight for Justice, Behind Enemy Lines, I shared my frustration regarding the ambiguity of “who” exactly was the enemy of my people. And I’ve had the same frustration regarding the “why” of our fight. Are we fighting so that we can experience fair treatment or equal opportunity? Are we fighting for freedom? Or are we fighting to have our voices heard, have our stories valued, and be embraced as “true Americans?”
Understanding our “why” or our purpose is important because our purpose is what will keep us centered and grounded. It’s what will give us meaning and keeps us focused. Our “why” is what keeps us motivated during times of hardship and struggle. So what is our “why” as Christians, and more specifically as Christian descendants of Africa?
Exodus 23:9: Also, you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
John 4:23 – But the hour is coming, and now is when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
Colossians 1:16 makes it plain that everything got its start in God and finds its purpose in Him.
So how do we, as Christians, fit into God’s plan? What’s our mission between now and His soon return? These are important questions to answer since the Bible says in Proverbs 19:21 that although we’re busy plotting and planning and trying to orchestrate the events in our lives, it’s only God’s purposes that will prevail.
This topic of “purpose” can be (and eventually will be) a LIFE study in and of itself. Stay tuned. However, for the lesson, I will simply provide a brief overview of our Biblical purposes as followers of Christ.
- We were created as living images of God for His glory. (Psalm 19:1, John 17:4, Colossians 1:16, I Corinthians 10:31, 2 Corinthians 3:18,Matthew 5:16 )
- We were created to worship God. (Psalm 66:1, I Chronicles 16:9-10, Revelation 5:13)
- We were created to love God with all our hearts. (I Samuel 12:24, Luke 10:27, Isaiah 43:10)
- We were created to love others. (Luke 10:27)
- We were created to be Christ’s disciples. (John 15:8, 17:4, Mark 16:15, Acts 1:8, 22:15, Ephesians 4:12, I Timothy 4:6)
- We were created to make disciples. (Matthew 9:37-38, 28:19, Mark 1:17, John 15:16, Romans 10:14-15, 2 Timothy 2:2)
Every Jesus-loving, Jesus-following believer should strive to fulfill the aforementioned God-ordained purposes. But during my study, I have learned that God also prescribed some particular purposes to us as descendants of Ham/Cush/Africa.
Isaiah prophesied that God would bring forth a remnant from Cush (Isaiah 11:11) and that we, as a redeemed people, would bear gifts to Zion (Isaiah 18:7). Zephaniah also proclaimed that from beyond the rivers of Cush, God’s people would bring Him offerings (Zephaniah 3:10). Psalm 68:31-32 declares that “Cush shall reach out its arms to God,” singing praises to Him! The Psalms 87:3-6 predicts that one day people will recognize the spirituality of the Ethiopians and will come to understand that they/that we have been born anew in Zion!
In Isaiah 30:1-15, we find the Children of Israel relying on Egypt, the familiar and tangible, and, once again, doubting God and His promises. What they have assumed to be unwarranted delays and undue hardship has caused them to become skeptical and question God’s love for them. Because of His love and patience, God explains that His promises towards them have not been fulfilled because they failed to walk in the purposes they were ordained. Here’s my interpretation of His reply in (Isaiah 30:12-15):
Because you despise my Word and would rather trust in all the lies you’ve been told, in people who’ve never had your best interest at heart, in a perverse, worldly understanding of justice, and in a system that has been driving you into the ground; you find yourself in the mess that you’re in now. All your anger, hurt, and victim-ness and need for retribution that you wear like a second skin is like a high wall you’ve built up around yourself, thinking that it’s your shield and protection. But this wall is not protecting you. In fact, if you don’t come from behind the wall, it will collapse all around you, leaving indistinguishable and useless fragments in its wake. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There is still hope for your salvation. Just return to Me. Stop plotting and scheming to save yourself. Abide in me. Rest in me. Trust me. Your strength and your comeback story can only be found in ME! Walking in your purpose is where you will find peace and restoration. In returning and resting, you shall be saved; quietness and trust shall be your strength.”
Most people love a good comeback story. Remember the Titans, Blindside, Rocky, 42, Cinderella Man, Bruised, and The Pursuit of Happiness. I could go on, but you get the point. We’re drawn to these stories because they speak to success and prominence being restored. They speak to the underdog winning and “the system” or “the oppressor” finally taking a kick in the teeth.
What if our comeback as a people isn’t based on the restoration of success, wealth, prominence, winning or finally kicking “the system” in the teeth? What if our return is found in our God-ordained purpose, which is to return Him our offerings of praise, showing the world what it means to be a true worshipper? What if our seemingly delayed comeback story isn’t because we aren’t fighting hard enough or because others haven’t acknowledged our greatness and their sins, but because of our misguided understanding of our true purpose?
Maybe it’s time we stopped trying to obtain restoration by our own blood, sweat, and tears. Perhaps it’s time to return our gifts of praise to God. To live as true worshippers. To show the world that despite hardship, injustice, brutality, lies, scorn, and shame, WE PRAISE. To serve as an example of the strength of humility and the beauty of trust.
I know some are ready to log off right now. How can she downplay the struggle? How can the injustices of this world, particularly against our people, be ignored? How can she dismiss the sacrifices of thousands before her and the thousands united in the fight today? Please hear me. I am not diminishing, downplaying, or ignoring our struggle. Nor am I suggesting that there is no call or space for our fight against oppression and injustice (Isaiah 1:17) because there is.
But what I am saying is that when we, as Christians, place our God-given purpose at the core of our “fight,” then all that we say and do will be Christ-centered.
All we say and do is done with the understanding that glorifying God by being disciples, making disciples, and showing the world what it means to be true worshippers is our priority #1.
When we are clear about our purpose, we can begin to operate out of a place of victory, not victim-ness. We begin to focus less on our circumstances/our problems/our needs, and we can focus more on the liberty and victory we have in Christ.
When we are clear on our purpose, our fight no longer mirrors the fight of the world. Others will see Christ reflected in our reactions and our actions. Our fight’s primary purpose will be to spread the gospel message, give hope, and win souls.
When we value The Cross over “the cause,” we can live out our God-given purpose, returning to the source of our strength, and in doing so, we will be saved (Isaiah 30:15)! Now this is definitely worth the fight!
- How does John 4:23 speak to you?
- How does your fight for justice align with or differ from our God-given purpose as described above?
- What are your thoughts concerning the specific purposes for descendants of Africa as described above?
- How might your “why” be impacted in light of the information shared?
- What are your personal LIFE Lessons?
- Liberation: What new insights have you gained that have freed you from past thoughts and practices?
- Inspiration: In what ways have you been spiritually, emotionally and mentally motivated to live for Christ?
- Fortification: What additional scriptural texts, passages or stories can reinforce and strengthen you against the attacks of the enemy?
- Edification: How might you share your story to edify others and bring glory to God?
As you process, digest, and apply what’s been shared, here are a couple of songs from “My Black Life” Playlist. Listen and let the music infiltrate your soul. Read the lyrics and let the words encourage you. And I pray that you’ll be blessed as I was.