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Day One – It All Starts With God

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“It’s not about you.” So begins my journey with Rick Warren as he seeks to help me understand my life’s purpose through The Purpose Driven Life. Because God is the Creator, we, the created beings, can never hope to discover our meaning and our purpose outside of Him. The world teaches that so-called self-discovery begins with me, whereas the Bible teaches that it begins with God.

Warren uses the first chapter to explain a bit more about the purpose of this book. It is not a self-help book and is not about finding the right career or achieving my dreams. It is about becoming what God created me to be.

Warren teaches that there are only two ways of discovering my purpose. The first is speculation. The second, obviously superior method, is to rely on revelation. By studying the Word of God, we can find that God has already told us what our purpose is. We just need to find it in His word!

I continue to be uncertain about the audience of the book. The first chapter seems to cater mostly to Christians, using Christian words and phrases, but he does say “if you don’t have [a relationship with God] I will explain later how to begin one.” So it would appear that he is attempting to appeal to both audiences.

Let’s do a quick inventory of what this book has promised through the Introduction and Day One:

  1. It will teach me God’s purpose for my life.
  2. It will help me understand the big picture – how all the pieces of my life fit together.
  3. This perspective will:
    • Reduce my stress
    • increase my satisfaction
    • prepare me for eternity
  4. It will teach me to become what God created me to be.

Bible Passages

As mentioned in my introduction to this series, I am going to pay special attention to the Bible passages Warren is quoting. In this chapter he quotes the Bible five times using two different paraphrases, Today’s English Version and The Message. Three of the passages generally retain their proper meaning (though Matthew 16:25 speaks about “finding yourself, your true self” which seems to introduce the very pop-psychology that Warren claims this book avoids!). One passage, Ephesians 1:11 is quoted using The Message and seems to be a bit of a departure from the original intent of the passage. The Message seems to imply meanings that simply are not in the text.

Of greater concern is Romans 8:6. The Message reads “Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life.” Compare to the NASB which reads “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” The paraphrase has replaced “death” with “dead end.” Clearly this is a vastly different meaning. I can find myself at a dead end and turn around. There is no turning around from death. The passage loses much of its force (and meaning) with this poor paraphrase.

Point To Ponder

Today’s point to ponder is “It’s not about me.” A very simple statement that is full of truth. It brings to mind the first question and answer in the Shorter Catechism which states, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer is “To enjoy God and enjoy Him forever.” We are to focus on God and not on ourselves. We are to find happiness and purpose in honoring Him. Our world certainly disagrees, teaching that the chief end of man is more: more money, more fun, more posessions. As Christians we always seem to be caught between our worldy desires and our godly desires. The passage from Romans shows that true life and peace is only to be found with a mind set on God.

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