The book with that title has sold over 25 million copies. Evangelical Christians hand out these books to their non-Christian friends, hoping that they, too, will find purpose through Christ.
Rick Warren, who I deeply admire and have learned a lot from as a pastor and ministry leader, states that the five purposes of God for humanity are these:
- Purpose #1: You Were Planned for God's Pleasure (Worship)
- Purpose #2: You Were Formed for God's Family (Fellowship)
- Purpose #3: You Were Created to Become Like Christ (Discipleship)
- Purpose #4: You Were Shaped for Serving God (Ministry)
- Purpose #5: You Were Made for a Mission (Evangelism)
When we start with where the Bible starts, with the Imago Dei, then we begin to understand the fundamental purpose of humanity, and therefore the purpose of those who are redeemed toward that purpose.
In Genesis 1:28, God says to those first humans, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
There is the mandate for humanity; in that verse we find our purpose. This has been called the “creation mandate” or the “cultural mandate” by theologians. It is the mandate that God gives to us humans.
As I think of the many evangelical churches doing “Forty Days of Purpose,” I wonder if we haven’t missed the point. I ask,
- Shouldn’t the purpose of humanity be directly linked to what God mandated in the first chapter of Genesis? Shouldn't our "purpose" have something to say about our care of the earth and of the creatures living here?
- Shouldn't our "purpose" have something to say about our doing the work of cultivating the earth and creating a culture in society?
- Aren’t we humans, as a corporate race, meant to be the image of God together? Does the very notion of having a “purpose-driven life” feed into an individualistic, Americanized Christianity?
- What would the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:28 look like if there had been no Fall?
- What does the cultural mandate need to look like now in light of the Fall and of the redemption that is in Christ?
The Imago Dei sets us on the right course for living the "purpose-driven life." Your votes in the poll in the side column reveal that we are beginning to understand the importance of the Image of God, and that we are starting to move in the right direction.
technorati: emerging church, image of god, imago Dei, theology