Our purpose in life- the reason WHY we exist- is to glorify God. We are created for Him, can be saved by Him, to help carry out His plan in the earth. Our calling, as those set free from sin and given a new nature, is of paramount importance in God’s amazing redemptive story!
The Lord brought me to Meredith College four years ago to experience a new season of truly following Him. I want to highlight some principles that have profoundly impacted and challenged my approach to college life and my purpose as a follower of Christ. The Lord has consistently taught and stretched me in these areas, and for that I am incredibly humbled.
As you may know, Jesus commands us to make disciples of every nation; that means, sharing the message of Jesus so others can receive new life and follow Him too. What’s amazing is that God wants to use US as conduits to communicate His love and grace to a lost and dying world. What does that require? Obedience.
During every season of our lives, God strategically places you in a sphere(s) of influence—for me, it was the college campus. In choosing to obey Christ’s command, I was constantly required to make a decision not to be ruled by fear, insecurity, or allow apathy to control me. It can be far too easy though to get swept away in our busy schedules that we neglect sharing this great hope with others. The Gospel demands intentionality.
When Jesus chose the twelve disciples, He didn’t head to the rabbinical school to pick those supposedly most knowledgeable about God. Just like the twelve, He chose us, regardless of background, skill level, or influence to play an integral part in carrying out His plan of redemption for mankind. What a privilege! The moment we become a believer, we can share the Gospel! But remember, we aren’t the ones responsible for saving individuals, God is. He has just called us to “go”. We also don’t make disciples for the sake of pleasing God with our impact; God is already pleased with us. As a result, obedience produces maturity and allows us to experience even greater depths of who He is.
In addition to sharing the Gospel and leading others to the Lord, it is also our responsibility to help lay a foundation in their lives by teaching them to submit to His Lordship.
In Romans 1:5-6, the apostle Paul clearly explains that our job does not lie in just making converts, but inspiring commitment to the obedience of this saving faith:
“5through whom [Jesus Christ] we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,”
Along with discipleship, I have learned how vital authentic community is for every believer. Community does not merely consist of hanging out with others as a means to entertain oneself or rid the weekend of loneliness. The next event or gathering of people can seem promising, yet broken individuals without an eternal purpose will ultimately leave us empty and unfulfilled.
Genuine community is characterized by encouraging and building one another up, serving one another, praying for one another, sharpening one another, and going into battle against the enemy side by side. When the love of Christ is established as our foundation and pursued by a community of believers, life-giving relationships will result. A non-judgmental and inviting atmosphere can be a powerful representation of the Father-heart of God for those that have never stepped foot in a church. In the Bible, a strong emphasis rests on cherishing and valuing our brothers and sisters in Christ.
This selflessness was portrayed in the early church in Acts 4:32-35:
“32Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.33And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34There was not a needy person among them,”
In addition, true community within the Christian faith is not established necessarily by “what” you do, but by the “how”- investing in people, imparting joy, giving generously, and possessing a non-confrontational , humble attitude. Our emphasis should not be on the event- church suppers, ski trips, retreats, multiple Sunday services, or volunteer efforts- but on treating every individual as a dignified son or daughter of our Lord, one no more privileged than the other. The love and unity of Christ needs to be so evident in how we interact and live life with other believers that it captivates and draws the world in.
34A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” - John 13:34-35
Although the first two points are imperative to ministering to others and fulfilling the Great Commission, if we are not a people committed to prayer, then we assume self-dependency and our efforts are futile. On the Raleigh campuses we have continually realized our desperate need to submit ourselves, each other, and our plans to the Lord. Although I was continually convicted and challenged to pray and fast more for discipleship groups, campus outreaches, unreached people groups, my friends and family who didn’t know Jesus, maintaining perspective for God’s design of communing with us is just as important.
Instead of taking a laundry list of requests before the Lord, whether in intercession or petition, I have learned to sit before Him and pray what’s on His heart. Continually praying and believing for specific things in which you desire to see change is indeed legitimate, but the focus of the discipline should not be centered on the longevity or zeal of the prayer. The measure of eloquence or passion of our prayers does not persuade God to intervene. Identifying areas that need pointed, ongoing prayer stimulates faith and provides structure and unity, but God is equally interested in transforming us through the process.
When we make a practice of quieting ourselves in His presence, we heighten our sensitivity to His voice, allowing the His Spirit to communicate greater depths of our Father’s heart. Approaching the Lord without our agenda in mind enables us to align ourselves in His will and positions us to receive a divine download of His desires, therefore leading to more targeted prayers. God is not limited by a finite mind, so we need to realize that His methods are not always the same as what we perceive to be best. The more time you spend in His presence, the easier it is to connect with His heart.
“But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.” -Psalm 131:2
“13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. For he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” – John 16:13-15
Being burdened to pray from God’s heart transforms your prayer life! No longer does prayer seem like a chore; instead, the beauty and person of God become all the more captivating. Authority, power, and purpose are cultivated and awakened in our prayers as we let His eternal mission motivate and define our very existence.
-- Brittany Patton
Brittany is a recent graduate of Meredith College where she studied Foods and Nutrition. She loves traveling, perusing food blogs and farmer’s markets, trying her hand at new recipes, ballroom dancing, and her two chocolate labs.