May 3, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Romans 8:28 (NRSV)
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
You have been called according to the purpose of God. What is this purpose? Yes, it includes saving you from sin and death. But it also includes joining God in his work of restoring the broken world through Christ. In our words and our works, we can partner with God as he unites all things in Christ. Because we have been called according to God’s purpose, our lives have eternal purpose as well. This purpose shapes both what we do and who we are.
Today’s devotion is part of the series God’s Transformational Calling.
In my last Life for Leaders devotion I began reflecting on Romans 8:28. No matter how you translate the first part of this verse, it’s clear that God is at work for good in all things. But, though God’s goodness might well be experienced by those who do not recognize God, the focus of verse 28 is on those “who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”
According to Romans 8:28, we are called according to God’s purpose. The Greek word translated here as “purpose” means “plan, purpose, resolve, will” (BDAG, prothesis). This word also appears in Ephesians 1:11, where it says, “In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose [prothesis] of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will.” In Ephesians, we are “destined” according to God’s purpose. In Romans 8:28 we are “called according to his purpose.”
What is this purpose that led to our calling? It certainly includes God’s intention to save us through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. But God’s purpose is broader than personal salvation, as wonderful as that might be. In Ephesians 1:10 we learn about God’s “plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth.” Through Christ, God is saving, not just individual souls, but also the whole broken cosmos. God is restoring that which has been shattered because of sin.
Immediately following this astounding revelation, Ephesians notes that we have been “destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will” (Ephesians 1:11). God’s purpose is not only to save us from the ravages of sin, but also to enlist us as partners in the Lord’s saving purpose. This is made even clearer in Ephesians 3:10-11. There we discover God’s plan for the ages, namely, that “through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known . . . . This was in according with the eternal purpose [prothesis] that he has carried out in Christ.” The people of God, including you and me, are essential to God’s purpose of letting the whole cosmos know of salvation through Jesus Christ.
To put it simply, God’s purpose includes restoring all that was broken because of sin, including saving fallen human beings. Yet that’s not the end of God’s purpose. The Lord’s plan also entails calling human beings together as the church so that we might participate in God’s saving, restoring work in the world. God called us because God’s purpose for our lives involved saving us from sin and death and mobilizing us as partners. Just as we were once charged with helping the world to be fruitful and full (Genesis 1:28), now we are also charged with helping the world to experience the fruitful and full salvation of God.
Because you have been called according to God’s eternal purpose, your life has an eternal purpose. Your calling is more than your career, your family, your creativity, or your volunteer work. It is God’s summons to join in God’s worldwide work. The more God’s cosmic purpose resonates in your soul, the more you’ll be able to live into this purpose in your career, your family, your creativity, and your volunteer work. God’s purpose will shape all that you do . . . and all that you are as you walk in the good works God has designed for you (Ephesians 2:10).
How would you define your purpose in life?
Where did you get this purpose?
To what extent is your purpose a reflection of God’s cosmic purpose?
Do you really believe God has a purpose for your life? Really? If so, why? If not, why not?
Talk with a wise friend or with your small group about your sense of purpose in life and how this relates to God’s cosmic purpose.
Gracious God, how I praise you for being a gracious, merciful, restoring, creative God. Thank you for your amazing plan to restore and unify all things in Christ. Thank you for intentionally and systematically working out your plan. And thank you that, by your grace, I show up in your plan.
Lord, you have called me according to your purpose. Help me, I pray, to have a deeper and broader understanding of your cosmic purpose. As I grow in this understanding, may I come to see my whole life as a reflection of your purpose. Let everything I do, Lord, glorify you as I walk in the good works you have planned for me to do.
All praise, glory, and honor be to you, O God, who called me according to your purpose. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: God’s Grand Plan: A Theological Vision (Ephesians 1:1–3:21)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.