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The Purpose Driven Life

I am reading Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life, and find much of it chimes with my own beliefs and experience - though in each part there is something different. Here I compare it with, and link it to, various points of the New View.

Day Message Comment
Day 1. All starts with God (not with me). Oh yes! But there's more: not only is God the start and centre, but God is our real joy and fulfilment and not just some 'start'.
Day 2. I am not an accident; God planned me. Yes, I know I am meaningful to and in God.
Day 3. Knowing my purpose gives meaning, simplicity, focus, preparation for eternity. Yes, that is what I find. My purpose is to represent God.
Day 4. Live in light of eternity. This world is passing away. Yes, I do that: eternity is 'real life'. And yes, this current world is passing away. But it is still valuable.
Day 5. Life here is a test and a trust. The trust is to shepherd the earth. Parable of talents. Slightly different: Life here is a trust, and a training rather than a test.
Day 6. Life is a temporary assignment; this world is not my home. Almost. This life is preparation, and is continuous with the next rather than replaced by the next. This current world is indeed not my home, but it is my valuable training and trust. My eternal home is not spiritual-heaven, but a new earth that will be like but unlike this one.
Day 7 Everything is for God, his glory; live for his glory. OK.
Day 8 We exist for God's pleasure. Worship in all of life gives him pleasure. I don't think God is primarily concerned with his pleasure, but rather with the 'pleasure' (good) of his creation, which he loves. Reality rejoices is what God wants. And not primarily with worship.
Day 9 Live to give God pleasure. God smiles when we love him supremely, trust completely, praise and thank him, obey wholeheartedly, use all our abilities (not just spiritual) OK. But what about all the other things that give God pleasure - justice, mercy, loving others, etc.
This seems to show where I disagree with Rick Warren, even though I agree with most of what he says. He has no inkling of the relationships we have with the creation that God values. He elevates the direct relationship with God above all others, in a way that Scripture does not. Moreover, I believe his world view is ultimately self-defeating; we cannot have the kind of 'purpose driven life' he envisages if God, to us, is an object of worship outside us. Only when God indwells us is it possible.
Day 10 Surrender your whole life to God. Trust him. It will be a blessing. God never takes advantage of us.
Day 11 Friends with God. Practise his presence in everyday life; meditate. Yes, all the time. cf. Reality Rejoicing.
Day 12 Develop friendship with God: Choose to be honest, obey, desire friendship with God. OK. But what if I cannot so choose? PDL seems to have no answer, because it seems to centre on what we do. New View emphasises Grace and God's work in us - Holy Spirit in us.
Day 13 Worship that pleases God is: authentic, thoughtful, practical. Yes, indeed so. But note the inclusion of 'practical'. It is not so much our praises and formal that pleases God, but lives lived out as his representatives here on earth - representing God in the 'secular' things of life, especially to those who don't know him, and to the non-human creation. That is worship that pleases God.
Day 14 When God seems distant: He's still there; trust him, tell him how I feel. Agreed. Goes with honesty.
Day 15 Made for God's family. Banefits, Baptism, Privilege. Yes, but New View sees it not just as family but as the whole of Creation interwoven in love with God mediated one to another. Reality Rejoicing.
Day 16 Life is all about Love. Eternal. The evaluation criterion. Give time. Agreed. But love is not only for humans but for all in Creation; we are not just objects of love, but have heart-attitude of love, orientation to 'the other' - and the other can be anything. If we have a grudging, careless attitude to the non-human creation, do we really have God's heart of love?
Day 17 Called to Belong. Why I need the Church and fellowship. OK, but a bit conventional and not able to account for solitaries.
Day 18 Life is meant to be shared. Authenticity, Mutuality, Sympathy, Mercy. Yes. I like his constant emphasis on honesty.
Day 19 Cultivating Community. Commitment, Honesty, Humility, Courtesy, Confidentiality. OK. But where is sharing, where is empathy, where is play?
More: Community depends on shared background understanding, often tacit, incorporating our shared 'worldview'. God's people, especially those with a 'New View' worldview, can shape this among all people, not just Christians, and that pleases God.
Day 20 Restoring Broken Fellowship. When broken: ventilate vertically, take initiative, problem r.t. person, reconciliation r.t. resolution. I found these very useful.
Day 21 Protect Unity of my Church. Attitudes. Encourage. I prefer Harmony r.t. Unity. Sometimes differences are right. Creation exhibits diversity. Sometimes it's right to be critical - but only with a positive attitude of love, which seeks to build up, and in no way disdains the other.
Day 22 Created to be Like Christ. Imaging God. Holy Spirit working in us. Long process of growth. Yes. See Representing God. See re. Holy Spirit.
Day 23 Growing. Phil. 2:13 - work out and work in: cooperation between God and us. Change your autopilot (will). Yes. But the author does not seem to realise that Paul says "work out .. because God works in you .." It is not so much a cooperation, as that because God changes our will, we can afford to take the risk of working out our salvation.
Day 24 Transformed by Truth. Accept, Assimilate, Apply the Bible. OK, but PDL focuses a bit much on our doing these things, and not on the Holy Spirit's role in doing these in us.
Day 25 Transformed by Trouble. Each problem has purpose. All works for good to those who love God. OK. But I prefer to see it as God responsively making good of all situations rather than sending each problem as a gift. Because I believe in the openness of God.
Day 26 Growing through Temptation. Every time we resist temptation, we grow a bit like Christ. OK.
Day 27 Defeat Temptation by: refocus attention, reveal to godly friend, realise vulnerability. OK, useful tips. But my own experience is that since the Holy Spirit changes my will I find much less temptation; that seems the real way to defeat it.
Day 28 Maturity Takes Time. Metaphor of 'beachnead' established in our lives by God. Four reasons why growth slow. Persevere. Agreed. But, the beachhead metaphor is unhelpful because it tends to make us assume we can do little until later, whereas in fact even the youngest Christian seems able to do wonders for God. Maturity of this kind is not like biological, intellectual or social maturity. Rather, it involves fruit, change of world view and change of will.
Day 29 We were created, saved, called, commanded to serve God. Sort of, but not quite. We are shaped to represent God, of which serving God is only part. To say 'shaped for serving God' though correct gives a wrong Islam-like impression. Serving God implies looking always to him for his instructions, whereas representing God to bless the rest of creation implies looking outwards to see what the rest needs, being filled with the Holy Spirit. I notice that most of the verses Warren quotes in this chapter are to do with serving others, not serving God.
Day 30 You were SHAPEd to serve God. S = Spiritual gifts. H = heart: be passionate in what we do. Yes; passion is what God created in us.
Day 31 Only I can be me. A = abilities. P = personality. E = experiences, especially the painful ones. Yes. But the implication is of a single plan for me, whereas God is open.
Day 32 God deserves my best. Assess, accept, enjoy, develop my SHAPE. OK.
Day 33 I serve God by serving others. 6 characteristics of being servant: available to serve, attention to needs, do best with what we have, equal dedication for every task, faithful to tasks, low profile. There are many books on leadership; far fewer on servanthood. Yes, indeed. Excellent points.
New View holds that our 'dominion' over the rest of creation is for its sake, not our own; that is, 'serve' it.
Day 34 Servant attitude: self-forgetting; think of others rather than self. Shepherd r.t. owner. Opportunities r.t. obligations. Identity in Christ. Yes, excellent; very like New View. Relatedness means thinking of others r.t. self. Radah of creation is for its own sake, not ours; we too use the term 'shepherd'.
Day 35 God loves and uses the weak. Admit, be content with, honestly share, glory in my weaknesses. Yes. But this has three implications.
(1) God has a bias to the poor. So avoid the world's tendency to seek out and honour those who are well-resourced, well-endowed, gifted.
(2) When we, God's people, are weak, that is when God can use us more effectively. So avoid the world's tendency to maximise our own giftedness.
(3) We can afford to be honest not only about our weaknesses but even our faults and sin - because Jesus Christ has 'purchased' them and now they are his, nor ours.
Day 36 Made for Mission: abandon your mission for God's - privilege of continuing Christ's mission of eternal significance. End of history. The Mission is to save people. Yes we are intended to be part of God's cosmic purpose, with its ultimate destiny. But the mission is not solely to save people, but to save people so we can together bless the rest of creation.
Day 37
Day 38 Become a world-class Christian - Other-centred r.t. self-centred. Expect God to work through you. Think in eternal terms. Yes! New View Christians are world-class, are other-centred, and both think and live in terms of God's cosmic, eternal plan. But PDL says nothing about global justice nor environmental responsibility. For NV Christians, these are central.
Day 39
Day 40 Living on purpose. "Who am I? Do I matter? What is my impact?" [But is that a bit self-centred; Day 38?] God wants to use me. Centre (what I worship), Character, Contribution, Communication, Community. [But what about resting in God and responding to others?] NV Christians live on God's cosmic purpose - "Who is the rest of creation? Does the rest matter? What is my joyful responsibility to the rest?" - and also resting in God and responding to the rest of creation.

This page is offered to God as on-going work in developing a 'New View' in theology that is appropriate to the days that are coming upon us. Comments, queries welcome.

Copyright (c) Andrew Basden 2009, but you may use this material subject to certain conditions.

Written on the Amiga with Protext. Number of visitors to these pages: Counter.

Created: 5 March 2004. Last updated: 18 July 2004 some links. 11 June 2005 repl stewards by shepherds. 21 January 2006 days 38, 40. 25 October 2009 some modifications and links to nv; new .end. 11 September 2011 # before radah.