North Santa Rosa

Living with Purpose

     There once was an 88 year old man who had several grandchildren that decided he needed some excitement in his life. They took him to a college football game. Their team won, and they were jubilant and happy. They asked, “Grandpa, how did you like the game?” His pale, blue eyes twinkled as he said, “Well, I don’t know about the game, but the hot dog and Coca Cola wasn’t too bad!” The old fella had never been to a big football game. He didn’t care too much about the game and just went along with the crowd and the motions of becoming a football fan.

     How many times have you attended church with your heart not being in it? People go to church for  many reasons; some for the fellowship, the music, or just out of habit. I’ve personally known youth pastors who have used gimmicks to get people to attend their meetings. One of them would advertise he was going to put a rat up his pants leg during the Wednesday service and another time he told prospects he was going to eat an earthworm during the Sunday night Bible study if they would just show up.

     Preachers, teachers, and other leaders try to make sermons, lessons, and programs as interesting as possible. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy a lively program that peaks your interests, but equally important, is discovering and meeting the needs of those present. Count the individuals in any church service today, and you’ll have at least that many needs to be met. Some have a lot more than one need.

     Church attendance should help you learn how to apply the principles of Scripture to practical living and to equip you to be able to help others. Jesus Christ always demonstrated his concern for meeting the needs of people. In fact, others criticized him for placing the needs of people ahead of religious traditions and programs. Story after story Jesus showed he always gave priority to persons rather than to religious traditions.

     Any Christian who attends church without the hope of being made stronger, wiser, and better equipped to meet the needs of hurting people is missing the whole point of Christ’s teachings. Religious traditions like preaching, programs, and even good ones like attending worship services are not to take priority over meeting human needs. What are you and your own church doing to help other people? Jesus always gave priority to people over traditions. We must follow in his footsteps.

     Jesus tells the story of a man who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. He was jumped by two cads, stripped of his clothes and dignity, robbed, beaten, and left for dead. A religious leader happened to be walking along the same way, but moved to the other side of the road and kept walking. A second traveler came by, took a brief look at the helpless man and kept walking also. Finally, a third man from the neighboring country of Samaria saw him and had loving-pity on him. He gave him first aid, covered him with a blanket, and carried him to a place where further care could be given. Jesus finished the story by asking those that were listening to him: “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who was beaten by the robbers?” A man who knew the law said, “The one who showed loving-pity (mercy) on him.” Then Jesus said, “Go and do the same.” (Luke 10:29-37).

     God prefers love in action above obedience to rules and regulations. He expects us to show other people the same mercy He shows us. You must understand that it’s not impressive services and entertainment you should seek at church. It’s Bible study, the practice of love in your church family, and the proper use of church resources to help the hurting and the lost.

     The “Living With Purpose” concepts that I promote each week through this column are practical methods that can affect positive living in your life and in the life of those you meet. Following Christ is the greatest example of living with purpose. We imitate Him by assisting the less fortunate, having compassion on the suffering, forgiving those who make mistakes, comforting the lonely and sharing Christ with the lost as opportunities arise.

     Going to church, giving tithes and offerings, and serving in various church organizations are not to be ignored or omitted. But even more important than fulfilling these traditional obligations of being a Christian is meeting human needs. You are to meet both the spiritual and physical needs of others. This is what Jesus taught and this is what you should do. Break out of the routine of church attendance only and find a need you can pray for and act on. When you do, you will be more like Christ than in any other way.

This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and a 1LT Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at

Posted by on Nov 17 2013. Filed under Living With Purpose, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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