“I consider my own life of no importance to me whatsoever, as long as I can finish the course ahead of me, the task I received from the Lord Yeshua” (Paul the Apostle, speaking to the people of Ephesus, in Acts 20:24, CJB).
I like what Paul says here and I fully identify with it: for me, the core of my life is to accomplish to the best of my ability what God expects of me.
This is not an easy sell nowadays because such a focused life seems abnormal. I remember hearing John Wimber teach years ago against the idea of making being “balanced” our absolute. He said, “If you had lived during the days of Ezekiel, would you have allowed your children out of the house while Ezekiel was out in the street?” It was Wimber’s humorous way of saying that “balance” is oversold in our day, and that some of the people we most admire were not very “balanced” at all, like this this fellow Paul, who considered his life to be of no importance to himself at all, as long as he could complete his God-given work.
So, judged by the assumptions of our day, you could color Paul “unbalanced.” But I think you want to add me also. I am also unbalanced in this way. As I said, the core of my life is to accomplish to the best of my ability what God expects of me. Like Paul, I think it is a step forward to serve something in life that matters more to me than simply prolonging life as I have known it. Frankly, if what we say we believe is true, then our life is in his hands, and it was Messiah Yeshua who said, “I am the resurrection and the life, he believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he life, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” There is an existence for us beyond existence as we know it. But meanwhile, the question is: What are we going to live for in the existence that we know? I think living for the will of God is a good thing.
Of course as we are learning nowadays, the radical Muslims seem to say the same thing. Actually they say they love death more than life. But that is absolutely not what we believe. We love life, and as servants of the Author of Life, we should. And we believe that life continues after death. We don’t believe in throwing our lives away, but rather in investing them in things that will outlast our earthly sojourn. We believe that it is not a step forward to pretend that we are not going to lose life as we have known it. We also believe that we are going to find a life beyond such as we have never known. And within that framework, the question remains: What am I living for? What do you live for?
I was fortunate enough to study with the finest biblical mentor in the world, Dr. Bobby Clinton, who lives about a quarter of a mile from where I am typing this blog. Bobby taught all of us a number of ways to discover what our life’s purpose is. Among those ways is to assess one’s natural abilities, acquired skills, and spiritual gifts. Rightly assessing these is a helpful pointer to the kinds of things one ought to live for, or at least what one ought to do. In addition, there are things like destiny revelation experiences when, in various ways, at some time in our lives, we got a hint from Elsewhere as to what our life ought to be about, some purpose that brings enduring benefit to others.
I can say with some confidence that I know my life’s purpose. When I studied with Dr. Clinton, or Bobby as he likes to be called, I wrote a personal mission statement which I have refined over the years. It is still a good statement, at lest for my life: “To leave behind a legacy of people, institutions, and materials that embody the best that God has shown me.” Recently that mission statement has gone one layer deeper and I am sharing that deeper level with you now. I am sharing this for three reasons: to make myself accountable, to serve notice to people as to what I am about, and as an example to the rest of you to encourage you to find what your life’s purpose is and then to live for it.
That deeper level for me on a relational level is as follows.
“My personal mission statement is to leave behind a legacy of people, institutions and materials that embody the best that God has shown me so that Jewish people and their families are drawn toward and assisted in ever-deepening engagement with covenantal Jewish life, with the Living God, and with the Risen Messiah.”
In our day, we do not see these things coordinated or deepened as we should. But these are meant to exist in synergy, with all three aspects thriving to the benefit each aspect individually and together. And they are not things to be checked off in a “Been therem done that,” fashion. Rather these should be areas of ongoing growth. Today one will find people invested in Jews coming to Yeshua faith who are apathetic toward or even distrusting of Jewish life. I view this to be wrong. There are others who on the other hand want so see Jews returning to Jewish life, but who neglect the relational aspects of growing life with God and/or with the Risen Messiah. This is also wrong. All three aspects are needed and all are meant to operate synergistically as an organic whole.
So if anyone out the clucks their tongue and says, “Oh that Dauermann, he’s so hung up on Jewish life and Torah living, he’s gone overboard,” I would have to say, “Better to be overboard than underboard, and don’t forget I am equally adamant about Yeshua faith and relationship with God not as established milestones, but as lived realities. Paul commended this kind of reality to the Colossians, speaking of “bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” It is for such an increase in Jewish life, in Yeshua faith, and in relationship with God that I labor and strive.
Therefore my question for you today is this one: Is there something for which you labor and strive that is more important to you than even the prolongation of life as you have known it? May Paul’s words become yours, “I consider my own life of no importance to me whatsoever, as long as I can finish the course ahead of me, the task I received from the Lord Yeshua.”
Or perhaps you prefer the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who also said it well:
If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr., (speech; Detroit, Michigan), June 23, 1963