Purpose Beyond This LifeMay 12th, 2014 | By Tony Stoltzfus | Category: Featured Content, Transformational Coaching, [None]
A key insight we get from studying Jesus’ life purpose is that the story doesn’t end with this life. Jesus’ ultimate destiny is for God to put all things under his authority, and to finally “unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” Death is not an end, but a milestone on a larger journey. Jesus lived for the day he’d be joined to a beautiful, spotless bride for an eternity of celebration, with nothing to mar that perfect relationship. It was “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).
I believe Jesus truly enjoyed life on earth. I think he loved the people he was with, the message he brought and skin he lived in. He certainly wasn’t serious and religious all the time. Remember, this is the guy who was widely criticized for going to wild parties with prostitutes, criminals and embezzlers. Jesus loved life, but he trusted God enough to let go of everything he had here for the promise of something infinitely better. To Jesus, the important thing was living toward heaven. All his hopes and dreams and rewards were fixed there.
Isaiah 53 includes a great passage about “the man of sorrows”. It ends with the following statement: “He shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.”
I love that line. Jesus’ suffering (like ours) accomplishes a purpose, and he will see the fantastic results of his purposeful suffering (so will we) and experience the satisfaction of seeing with his own eyes (as we will) that it was all truly worthwhile. Jesus refused to live for cheap substitutes in the here and now, and held out for the real prize in heaven.
In the same way, a Christian’s destiny story only makes sense when it extends beyond the grave. It’s easy to lose sight of eternal ends in the press of daily life. So one of the things we do for our clients is reframing their circumstances in the light of eternity:
- “You and Jesus have something new in common—now you’ve both been through something like this. There’s a fellowship of his sufferings you can have with him when you share his place of pain. How can you meet him and know him more deeply here?”
- “Let’s refocus on the ultimate outcome here. What’s the payoff for handling this well instead of giving in to your anger?”
- “Let’s take a bigger view: instead of looking at how this affects your day, how does it fit in with God’s ultimate purpose for your life?”
- “Let’s say you’ve walked through this really well. Visualize yourself standing before God and talking about this. What would he say to you? How would that impact you?”
- “If you completely, radically abandoned yourself to the idea that heaven is really real and God rewards, what would you do?”
This life is full of unpredictable suffering and deep loss, and sometimes nothing seems to make sense. Christian coaches bring an extraordinary gift to the table in those moments—that we know a purpose that reaches beyond this life to another.
Tony Stoltzfus is an author, leadership coach, master coach trainer and director of the Leadership Metaformation Institute. Additional information on this topic can be found in Tony’s book, The Christian Life Coaching Handbook.