Pastor Jon reminds us that one of the best ways to live a life filled with purpose in Christ is by helping others.
Jon: If you have a Bible or an app, you can go to Luke 5. If you have a handout, which you should, these Bible verses should be in that handout. Let’s use this handout today to write a couple of things down. I’ll cue you. I want you to use it as kind of a roadmap this week. I want you to journey, look at it, and pray. I want you to think about the things that are said today, and try to implement them into your life. So use that handout, it’s kind of a roadmap and we’ll put some awesome destinations on there. The first one is our goal today. This is what this sermon is about. Here’s what I want to look at, answer, and what I’m actually really excited about.
I want to talk about how to launch into a purposeful life by helping others. I know that tagline at the end is a little tricky because it’s: okay, let’s launch out, let me find purpose. But that whole thing of helping others is a little tricky, isn’t it? It’s probably enough for us to take care of our own lives and to find purpose in our own lives, let alone to do it by helping other people. But I want to show you the beauty of it this morning.
I had some sympathy at nine o’clock, so the bar’s high. Now, here at 10:30? I’m going to tell you something and I need some sympathy, encouragement, and an amen or something. I need more than that. I’m nervous now. I’m going to be 40, August 29th. I heard that, like right in here though. Some of you guys are like, what? Others of you who are probably older than me are like, yes, but no, I’m going to be 40, August 29th. I say that for sympathy. I told the nine o’clock. So I have very high expectations. You can also give me a gift.
I’ve got some new 40-year-old hobbies. I’ll share them with you. But this 40 thing is, I think for a lot of people, it’s kind of freaky. I think every year is a little freaky, but I think I’m trying to use this. I’m trying to use it because I don’t want to live in fear. What I want to do is reflect. It’s very important for me right now. I’m looking back on my life and God has given me a purpose-filled life in ministry. But I’m looking back at my life and I am deciphering, has it been purpose-filled?
What are the highlights? What are the things that really caused me to get up out of the morning and drove me? I look back and I think, “man, I accomplished that, and I accomplished that, by God’s mercy. It was fantastic.” Those are real-life giving pieces right there. I want to project by looking into the next 40 years, Lord willing. Also, I want to create my life around those things. Are you tracking with me? So these moments in life were actually advantageous to help us to build. I look at my life and think, “John, what gave you purpose the last 15 years? What are the things that just blew your mind?” Everybody’s looking for it, right? Because here’s the truth, we all want life to count.
We all want life to count. All of us want to know at our jobs and in our homes, and some of you guys moved to San Francisco for a vocation. You want to know that you’re not just clocking in, clocking out, or making someone else a lot of money, but you’re doing something that’s going to change the world. I think that’s one of the many reasons I love all generations, but you millennials, man, you really believe you can change this world. Don’t ever lose that, don’t ever grow up. You who are no longer millennials or not in that age group of 20, 30s, don’t stop dreaming. Don’t stop dreaming. Pastor Terry has been telling us, these guys are like 70 and 80 years old and they were rocking things. They were changing culture. We are world changers.
We need to understand after that. I’m excited to pursue that with you. We all want life to count. I think the head trip, the thing I’ve been studying in my own life, is we’re constantly looking for that next thing that’s big enough to satisfy our heart’s desire when it comes to purpose. That’s why we jump from thing to thing. That’s why we like exciting movies that are pretty wild and adventurous. We’re living through those movies. But that’s what these things are, these hobbies, and they’re not wrong. They’re not wrong. They are healthy outlets for the most part, at least in my life they are. I’m sure they offer you vacations and all the rest. They are good things, but we’re looking for more. We’re looking for a purpose. Why are we here? What do we do?
How do we maximize this thing, this thing we call life? Age-old question. What is life about? The real weird thing is Christianity seems to be the last place we look. If you grew up in church, I don’t know, maybe you’re even thinking Christianity was kind of doing the opposite. It was rules, and it was kind of pressing me down a little bit like it was drying my purpose up. I did not grow up in church at all. I even had these false ideas. When I would think of Christians and everything, I thought, “you’re not alive like me. You’re not full of purpose like me.” Really, I was miserable. When I became a Christian at 21, I got to do this, which was four years ago.
When I became a Christian, I started looking at this book, this Bible. I started hearing the voice of God speak to me through scripture. There couldn’t be anything further than the truth than this. Christianity is all about purpose. It’s all about this trajectory of now you’re saved. Now you’re a child of God. God’s saying “now we’re going to rewrite the whole script. We’re going to push you out into something amazing.” It can be a little fearful at times. So I’m going to walk us through it. Look up behind me. We’re going to put a couple of verses up from the book of Ephesians. It’s a letter written to a church by an early church father, named Paul, in Ephesians 2:8, this is Christianity.
If you have any ideas of what Christianity might be, just let God speak to you for a second here. In verse 8, this is how one becomes a Christian. “For by grace, it is a free gift. For by grace you’ve been saved, through believing through faith. You go into a relationship with God, you become a Christian by believing what Jesus did on that cross for you and I.” Paul goes on to say in verse 9, “it’s not by being good.” Now we’re going to show you that good works come out of being saved, but you can never earn your way to God. You can never be good enough to build a relationship with God because the standard is too stinking high, it’s perfection. So he says in verse 9, “it’s not a result of works. My relationship with God that has given me this new life.” It’s not because John turned over a new leaf.
I can only point to God and say, “man, he just saved me through faith. I believed in Jesus and what he did for me on the cross and dying for my sins. I just believed.” He’s scooping me up, “John, I’m your father now. I’m going to clean you up. I’m going to give you a new heart. I’m going to forgive you forever and ever. We’re going to do something in this world.” All I can do now is say, “God is awesome. God is awesome.” Check out verse 10. If you ever thought Christianity was boring, check this out. “For we are His workmanship.” Do you see the word? We are His masterpiece. That’s what the word means.
We are His poem. It can mean we are as a painting. We are His artwork. Now I feel kind of like a Picasso painting. Do you know what I’m saying? don’t walk around thinking, “yeah, look at this.” But that’s the beauty of God. He says, “Yeah, in the mess, in the Picasso painting, what I’m doing is I’m rearranging things. I’m trying to launch you out to do something powerful with your life.” Verse 10, “for we are his masterpiece created in Christ Jesus.” When we got saved, here’s what God did. “I’m launching you out into a new good work for your life. I’ve written good works for you to do now. Now that you’re saved, you’re going to impact life and humans around you, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk or live a lifestyle doing these things.”
God wrote out my story. This is so amazing. I love Christianity because of this. God, before I was ever formed in my mother’s womb, wrote out my story and said, “John, when you receive me, and you’re saved. When you become a follower of me, I am already creating the things that you’re going to do. You’re going to live a life that matters. It’s going to satisfy your soul if you do these things.” The big problem is, what are these things? Just what are these things?
If we are this masterpiece, this painting, this artwork, then what does the good work look like that gives us all this purpose. Write this quote down by Vincent van Gogh. I love this. I love this right here. I have this written everywhere now. It’s freaking my family out. “There is nothing truly more artistic than loving people.” I have the ability through God by touching a human life. I’m literally painting on their soul. I can heal them. God will heal them through me as I speak words of life. I do these amazing acts of hospitality, love, and care towards them. They’re like a canvas that I can begin to paint something beautiful on. There is nothing as beautiful as loving and helping people. The greatest purpose we can ever be involved in is the work of being a part of the healing agency in this world. Happiness and joy.
There’s a vast gap between happiness and joy. Happiness comes through attaining, primarily for you, for me. But purpose comes through giving. That’s the weird thing, especially in a consumer culture. There’s nothing wrong with receiving and getting. But if you want to feel real purpose in your life, it’s the law of diminishing return. We can receive, and receive, and receive, and receive, but it does less, and less, and less, and less for us. So God rewrites the script and that’s what’s so cool about God. He just takes everything we think we know and flips it. God says, “You want to be radical? Check this out, give away to help another human life, and watch what happens in your heart.” It’s a paradox. It’s incredible stuff. This is just how the human mind and the human heart are wired.
When we give away, we get, we’re filled up. Write this quote down. This is another powerful one. I love this. I absolutely love this quote from Van Gogh and Martin Luther King, Jr. Then we’re going to hear about Jesus. Pretty good stuff. Think about this. Martin Luther King, Jr, “I am not who I am supposed to be until you are who you’re supposed to be.” I’m incomplete until I help you be complete. If I can love you, I can help you, I can fill a need or I can be there for you, or I can tell you about the good news of this God of mine. Whatever it is, the more I give away to make you complete, the more I feel complete. It’s going to take a couple of days to straighten that one out right there. Here’s what I want to do. I want to take a fun journey. This is a great story in Luke 5. It’s in your handout. If you’ve got a Bible, go there.
I want to show you how Jesus wants to step into all the different areas of your life. I’m talking vocation. I’m talking about your home. I’m talking about your circle of friends. I’m talking about that cafe or coffee shop you hang out at. I’m talking with your grandkids. It doesn’t matter. Sports league, whatever it is. I want to show you how Jesus wants to take that thing and no longer let it just be a thing, an isolated thing. He wants to step into it and give it a new dimension. To show you how He can use it for you to heal a human life and feel true purpose in this world. Are you ready? I’m excited. In Luke, chapter 5, we’re going to meet this guy named Simon. Are there any Simons in the room? I always think about that.
Someone always comes up and they ask, “Were are you talking about me?” I say, “No, it’s a guy in the Bible.” I just want to make sure. Okay, this guy’s name is Simon and he has a startup. He just started a fishing company. That’s all he could do back then. It’s all good though. So he’s got this startup, he’s a small business owner, and he’s doing his thing. He’s working like crazy. By the way, that’s Peter, the Apostle Peter. Let’s not get confused. We’re going to call him Simon today. We’re going to watch Jesus step into his vocation, take fishing, and turn it on its head and say, “Simon, here’s my message to you. Fishing will never fulfill you. But if I step into it, I’ll add something new to it. You’ll use it to heal humans around you, then it will fulfill you.”
Here’s the setting, Luke chapter 5:1. I’m going to walk you through the first four verses here. “On one occasion,” which means this happened often, which is totally crazy. “On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on Him.” While the crowd was crushing Jesus. Jesus is walking around this huge lake. It’s the sea of Galilee. It’s also called the lake of Gennesaret. He’s walking along the sea and there are literally thousands of people, all crowded around him crushing him, this is wild. Why are they crushing him? To hear the Word of God. That’s not the Bible per se. What they’re doing is, when Jesus speaks, He was so radical and spoke like no other person. He spoke healing words of life, power, and forgiveness, like no one had ever heard. Their lives are being so transformed that they were thinking, “Man, this has to be God right here.”
Nobody speaks like this. We need that same voice today. With all the voices and chaos out here, we need to hear the voice of God from Jesus Christ. He’s speaking, and thousands are around Him. They’re around the lake of Gennesaret. In verse 2 it’s getting a little wild. He’s trying to speak this big old sermon to these guys. They’re pushing Him closer and closer to the water. Maybe He’s ankle-deep. He’s thinking, “okay, this isn’t working.” So verse 2, “He looks over and sees two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets.” Here’s the deal: At that time, people fished at night. Now you do it, I heard you’ll get a ticket. We can confess our sins today, right?
So they would fish at night because it would cool down and the fish would come to the surface. I only know this because I researched it. I’m pretty much a city guy. It would be much easier to scoop the fish up. These fishermen have worked all night. They’re exhausted. Simon’s one of our guys. He’s a fisherman. Simon’s a pretty rough dude. He’s rough. He’s got a foot-shaped mouth and he’s got a temper. Simon has worked all night. He’s exhausted. This is hardcore work. He’s probably laying on the beach and in no mood. Jesus is getting pushed back into the water. He looks over and sees two boats empty because no one fishes during the day.
Jesus says, “Hey, Simon, jump in the boat, push me out a couple of feet, so I can speak to these people and create some space.” Verse 3, “getting into one of the boats,” which was Simon’s, this thing’s a big setup. Jesus asked him to put out a little from the land. Simon jumps in the boat, no doubt, “Yeah, I can do that.” Simon is probably thinking, “I’m tired. Okay, Jesus is doing his thing. We’ve seen it before. He’s preaching that sermon. It’ll end soon. I’ll hit the shore again. I’ll get some sleep.” Simon pushes out from the land and then it says Jesus sits down and takes the position of a rabbi or a teacher. He taught the people from the boat. If you’re Simon, no problem. You’re kicking back in the back of the boat. You’re chilling. Jesus is going to do His thing. He’s going to say, amen. They’re going to pray. Everyone’s going to break. Simon’s going to roll the boat back in. It’s all good. Right?
Jesus has a way of crash landing into people’s lives, who are minding their own business. Radically transforming you for the good. It’s crazy awesome. Look what happens in verse 4. He says, “Go home, sermons over, go home.” Everyone starts going. Jesus says, go home. “When He had finished speaking,” that’s Jesus, “He turns to Simon.” Jesus said to Simon, “Hey Simon, clock back in, put out into the deep, row. I need some quiet time with you. We need to talk. I want you to go out and let down your net. We’re going to go fishing.”
What is Jesus doing right there? It’s the same thing He’s doing in most of our lives. He’s stepping into Simon’s vocation. He’s about to add a new dimension of purpose right in front of Simon. He’s going to take that fishing business and say. “Yeah, okay. It’s good. But it’s never going to fulfill you. It’s never going to give you the purpose you want. I’m going to show you how to impact humans through it.” Simon or Peter had not yet become a full follower of Jesus. Jesus is easing him out. Before Jesus would say, “Leave everything. Come with me.” Now Jesus is saying, “Hey, let me just teach you how to use your vocation for me. We’ll work you up into full follow-hood,” if that’s even a word. Let’s look at verse 5.
In verse 5, Simon answered and he’s frustrated. Remember, he’s tired. He’s hangry, that’s a biblical word, no doubt. Simon answers, “Master,” words are important. That’s not what we think. Lord God, no. Luke’s the only person to use that word in Greek. It means boss man. He’s like, “Hey boss man.” Later he’s going to call him God, which is to say, I wonder if it’s that Simon hadn’t quite brought the Lordship of Jesus into his job. He had a big separation. He went to church, but then he went to work. Jesus wasn’t quite like Jesus there. He wasn’t aware of Jesus and what Jesus wanted to do. In verse 5, he gets so frustrated. He says, “Master, boss man. Okay, you’re the guy. But look, we toiled all night and took nothing. I’m a fisherman. You’re the religious guy. What do you mean, we’re going to go fishing? Wrong time of day. Ah, but at your word, I’ll let down the nets, fine. Let’s get this over with. I’ll prove to you there’s no fish out here.” In essence, what he’s doing is saying this is my job, this isn’t religious stuff.
Simon doesn’t see what Jesus has to do with his job at all. That’s the thing I think God wants to awaken in us. I want everyone to write this down on your handout. “There is no divide between the sacred and the secular.” That’s the message of Jesus to us today. We don’t go to church and then go to work. We’re followers of God. He wants to step into every space. We’re going to go home this afternoon. We’re followers of God. Jesus still wants to step into our homes and do things tonight. He still wants to reach a daughter, a husband, a wife, or someone renting a room or something. Some of you are going to play sports or whatever this week. Those aren’t just isolated things.
Do they play rugby here? Let’s go with it. Rugby or whatever. No, there are people there. There are people there. Let Jesus step into that and connect with a person. That’s when life gets super exciting. Because coffee shops are no longer coffee shops, and Uber is no longer Uber. I have a friend to this day who was driving an Uber. He picked up a guy who went to our church in the city here. They invited my friend to church. “So, can you clock out for a while and go to church with us?” The Uber driver’s driving them to church and they’re saying, “Come with us. Do you want to come in? We’ll get you a parking spot.” This guy is following Jesus to this day. He came to Christ through that. Uber was no longer Uber.
These are vehicles. They’re avenues. Purpose is found when the two become one. I was sharing this with the nine o’clock. We were lost. Don’t tell anybody. We were lost in the big park, Golden Gate. We finally found our way out and sure enough, we stumbled out of a hedge. There are all these people around us, but I want to make it feel better, so I stumbled out. I finally found my way out and led my family to the sidewalk. Sure enough, there’s this European couple, I could tell by their accents. They’re talking to this young Asian girl, I could tell by her accent, she was definitely a visitor.
She spoke almost no English, and the European couple asked, “So you’re lost?” I don’t know what that was. “So you’re lost?” She said, “I’m lost.” She’s about 14. They said, “Well, we don’t know how to get you back either.” This is my family day. This is Saturday. This is my day. Like Jesus, tomorrow we do your thing. I think, “I can’t keep going. We have to stop.” We just said, “Hey,” I know this is super weird, but you’re already in a really weird situation. “So are you lost?” She said, “Yeah, I’m lost. I’m trying to get back to my boss. I don’t know anybody. I can’t work my phone because I don’t know the calling capacity in the states or whatever.”
We said, “Well, are you that way?” We walked her back to the bus stop. It was really cool because we were able to be aware that this isn’t just a thing here. Jesus wants to step into this situation. He’s trying to speak to people everywhere we go. We were able to share Christ with her. It was a really amazing experience. That’s what vocations in neighborhoods and hobbies are, the masks of our Lord, behind which He wants to step in and help someone. Look at Luke 5:5 one more time. “Simon answered, Master, we toiled all night and took nothing. What do you mean? Do you want me to go fishing right now? You’re a religious guy? Why are you in my job? We toiled all night and took nothing.” Let me ask you a question. Who in the world do you think was behind that?
Trying to find all this purpose in your job, nothing wrong with vocation, but you’re trying to find life in your job, Peter. I’m going to have to frustrate you in a good way. You’re going to go empty, so you’re ready to open your heart and allow me to step into your vocation to give it real purpose. It’s like Jesus is saying, your vocation is not enough to give you purpose. Your vacays are awesome, but they’re not enough to give you purpose. The sports leagues, the schools, it’s all good, but it’s not made to give you purpose. But if I step into those things and you work with me, launch out and connect with someone, then we help a human life and it’ll be big enough to give you purpose.
Well, what’s the end of the story? Verses 6 to 10. He throws the net in, all these fish are caught. No fish should be caught at that time of day. Jesus is like, I’ll turn the whole thing right side up. I’ll do things you never thought imaginable. They pull the net up. It’s so heavy. Peter’s got his foot on the boat and he starts waving to another boat. They come over and yank this thing in. The scripture says, they were marveling at how many fish Jesus brought to them. They’re still not getting it. Jesus is basically saying, “I’m not stepping into your vocation just to prosper you financially.” Now He may do that. Praise God. He’s saying, you’re still not getting it. So the coolest verse is verse 10.
In the second half of verse 10. Simon’s funny, he says, “Get away, Lord, what are we doing out here?” Then he says, “Oh your God.” Then he falls down in the middle of the fish and drops his head on Jesus’ knees and says, “I’m unworthy.” At the end of verse 10, Simon must think Jesus is going to destroy him or something because Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid, Simon. I love you. I’m trying to talk to you. From now on, you will be catching people.” That is the weirdest word, catch, because in Simon’s world, when you catch a fish, you kill it. Or you sell it and make profits.
What are you saying here, Jesus? It is this weird word that actually means to keep alive and take care of. Jesus is saying, “you’re going to use your job, and those servants who work for you, and you’re going to catch them and you’re going to show them, love, you’re going to care about them and you’re going to enhance their life through love.” You think about what the sea was, to a Jew. It was a dark place. It was a scary place. It was a place of judgment. It’s a perfect illustration of going out in the deep. There are people who are in darkness. There are people who are broken. They’re hurting, their marriages are on the rocks, or they’re confused about identity or whatever it is. You’re right there with them. Just trust me and let me step in with you. Launch out, trust me, speak to them, get to know them. Find a way to love them. Then you’ll have a purpose. I love that. Write this last piece down and then I’m going to tell you an awesome story. For every one of us, it doesn’t matter if you came in and your life is upside down. One, welcome to the party. Two, Jesus will use you where you are at. Every one of us carries at least one piece to someone else’s puzzle. Who you are, where you are, what you do, and who you know is all you need to change this world.
You’re thinking, that’s very romantic, but I don’t know about that. My world’s all good right here. This is my rhythm. Put me out there doing this work, I struggle. So let me help you. If I can do it, you can do it. When I was doing my undergrad work in Jacksonville, Florida, I worked for this trucking company. Some of you don’t like your jobs. I hated this job severely. I couldn’t wait to get out. My supervisor was this young guy. He was a pretty cool guy. I don’t even know how it came out. I didn’t go to work with a pulpit chain around my neck or anything weird, but he found out I was a Christian. I’m a pretty normal guy, even though I’m a pastor, back then I wasn’t. He started having this conversation with me and it started coming out that he was struggling with life.
He was just struggling with life, just everyone’s story. Every day he would spend a little more time with me, “Well, did you get that thing in the truck? Hey, can I talk to you?” Opening these conversations with me and talking about his brokenness. I was just doing a whole lot of, “Huh, aha, aha, cool.” I just told him, “The thing that worked for me is when I came to Jesus, I got under His word, and I did it with the community at church.” He said, “Well, I grew up in a church and I’m really thinking about going back.” His name was Travis. Don’t forget that name, his name is Travis.
I always think these guys are going to hear this one day. You’re the sermon. I ended up quitting that job. I never saw Travis again. The last thing I heard, he was going back to church and really had his spirit back. You could feel healing coming about him. I went to UPS. I became a supervisor at UPS. I took the worst section in the building. It was the second-largest hub in the nation, it’s down in Jacksonville. I was warned about this girl. Her name is Ashley. She would come to work and was high every day. She was late every day and they were trying not to fire her. They’re like, “Here, catch,” and I’m like, “Okay.” I just started getting into her life slowly and just being a friend, even though I was her boss, and I didn’t know what I could do to help this girl.
Slowly, she started coming on time just to talk to me. She started sharing her life more with me, and you could see the healing happening. She was dumping stuff. Pretty soon, she would come to work and you could tell she wasn’t high. She was coming early. Pretty soon, she was one of the top people in our section. She started talking about God and that she grew up in this church, and really thinking about going back to her church. Several months down the road, I’m clocked in, waiting for my crew to show up, and in runs Ashley. I’m bracing myself, what is this? She runs up to me and says, “John, John, John,” and she’s pointing to her finger, “John, John, John, look at this,” and she’s got an engagement ring on. I’m trying not to tear up. I said, “You’re engaged?” What a turnaround. She said, “Yeah, you know my fiance. His name is Travis.”
I’m a mess. If I can do this, then you can do this. Jesus can step into your life and do this too. We’re going to have a time of giving in just a sec here, we’re going to sing a closing song. I want to pray for this. I want you to pray with me, Father, just ignite our heart today. Father, just because some amazing person listening to this, even online, cause them to believe, truly believe, wherever they’re at, whatever round they’re about to walk into, help them to believe. In Jesus name, Amen#1832: Launch Out • Mission Campus