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  • CJ Rhodes DMin

A Life Not Lived in Vain


The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. observed, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” If Dr. King is right, the urgency of this question may be more important than any other question regarding our identity and purpose.


Throughout our Empowered for Purpose series, I’ve encouraged you to understand and actualize your purpose, identity your life’s mission statement, and do what you are assigned and anointed to do to the glory of God. This is important work, but there is a danger in limiting the scope of all of this to the realm of individual pursuits with no concern for others. If we are honest, we live in a selfish time. This does not mean that other times and seasons in human history have not been defined by selfishness, but we can surely sense that this moment is especially branded by a “me, myself, and I” paradigm. When we are only concerned with ourselves, we in a significant way diminish our humanity. Part of being human is to be a social creature who flourishes in community.


What is so moving about the healing narrative in Mark 2:1-12 is that the four friends bring the paralyzed man to Jesus. It is because of their faith, not that of the sick man, that healing of soul and body occurs. Many times, we focus on the man’s sins being forgiven and his body being healed, only to rush beyond the fact that he possibly would not have experience that life transformation is the four friends did not bring him to the Lord. They too are nameless in the narrative, and we are not sure of their condition. They too may be broken, in need of saving and healing grace, but Mark 2 would have us to know they are ultimately concerned with this man being made whole. Their purpose, at least at that moment, was to serve.


As I noted in the sermon titled ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’, these four men brought the lame man to Jesus because they had compassionate concern for his wellbeing. They wanted him to experience abundant life. Can you say that about you? Are you concerned about others around you being made whole spiritually, physically, and otherwise? When they could not get into the house where Jesus was because of the crowds, they did not turn around and say, “Maybe we’ll see Jesus another day.” They persevered and engaged in creative chaos, pivoting in that moment in order to get their friend healed by any means necessary. How far are you willing to go in order to help a friend in need?


Because of their faith demonstrated by such action, Jesus offered the sick man comprehensive care. Jesus forgave his sins and healed his body. He got more that he was expecting because some friends brought him to Jesus.


This text teaches us that our purpose cannot be me-focused but rather we-focused. As we fulfill the call on our lives, we should seek the welfare of others. Moreover, we will not fully grasp this if we never feel compelled to bring people to Jesus to experience the liberation, restoration, and reparation he provides.


If you’re still praying about your purpose, a good place to start in actualizing it is helping somebody else. As the song proclaims,


If I can help somebody, as I travel along If I can help somebody, with a word or song If I can help somebody, from doing wrong No, my living shall not be in vain


You are essential to someone else's breakthrough. Living a life serving others is a life not lived in vain.

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