By Jordan Ayers
Jordan and his wife Macie work on campus at Mizzou with Student Mobilization (StuMo). They are committed to leading college students into a relationship with God and training them to grow as leaders that are sent all over the world after graduation. Jordan and Macie have been on staff with StuMo 12 and 13 years respectively and have three children ages 7, 4, and 3.
Parenting keeps you on your toes, but not in the way I expected. Sure, with three kids (ages 7, 4, and 3) life is full and there is always something crazy going on, but it was the “why” stage that really kept us on our toes. Our kids are constantly asking us the why behind things in life. Sometimes I realize I don’t really have a good answer for why, “Dad can I have cheerios for my snack?” I answer “No” (just because it is easy). “Why Dad?” And, to be honest, sometimes I don’t really have a good “why” when I tell them “no”. But underneath this sometimes-difficult trait of young children and their desire to know “why” is something I have learned to also love and deeply respect about them. They are always trying to understand the purpose behind my words, and are often challenging the status quo. I think in a lot of ways we adults could learn something from our kids! If we reach a point in life where we stop asking why and simply travel down the path in life we are told to go.
A few months ago, I was talking with a group of my friends on campus at Mizzou and asked them a different (more serious) “why” question: “Why were you created? What is the purpose to life?” The next few moments were filled with silent pauses and clarifying questions. “You mean like my job?” one of them asked. “No,” I said, “bigger than your job, why did God put you on this earth, what is His purpose for your life?” The silence continued until I asked another question, “Does it bother you that you don’t know the answer to that question?” Unanimously they agreed that it did!
What is happening with these young men is the same thing that was at work when I was entering college. I had never committed myself to finding out the answer to why I was created and why I am on earth. My freshman year of college I joined a fraternity and (of all places) it was there that I met my first friend who was truly following Jesus. He began to help me see what a relationship with God was actually like by reading the Bible and helping me do it on my own. What began to click for me is: If Jesus died for me, innocent on a cross, for all the ways I’ve fallen short, for all the regrets and bad decisions and things I’ve done. If it is true that He then rose from the dead, demonstrating His power, then it was proof that my future was safe with Jesus.
Immediately when I began following Jesus, I was filled with such gratitude for my friend who helped me begin a relationship with God. But as I look back now 16 years there is something else, I am just as thankful for. Not only did my friend lead me to Christ, he continued to invest in me to help me mature in my faith to understand all that God purposed for me to do in this life! He helped me see it wasn’t just about going to heaven to live in God’s presence (as amazing as that is) but there was a reason right now why Jesus saved me.
My friend helped me see that God’s purpose for my life was the same that Jesus gave to His followers several times before and after dying on the cross and ascending up to heaven. In Matthew 28:18-20 it says, “18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” What Jesus tells His followers, He tells us today. He has created us for a purpose that far exceeds anything our world today has to offer us. A purpose that lasts and shapes eternities! That purpose is to make disciples! Making disciples is a term often only used in church, but its meaning is fairly simple. It is the act of living among your friends who don’t know Christ and sharing Him with them. When one of them begins following Jesus you simply walk alongside them to help them grow and mature in their faith. Like my friend at the fraternity did for me. He not only introduced me to Jesus, he helped me understand the purpose He had for my life. He studied the scriptures with me, was patient with me, and answered my questions to the best of his ability, and we also simply hung out as friends and had fun together! By living out this purpose you actually reproduce your life in a spiritual sense. In the same way that we reproduce our lives physically by having children, God is wanting to use you to reproduce your life spiritually by leading your friend to Christ and showing them how to become a leader for God. Through reproducing your life spiritually, the world can be reached for Christ! The gospel is not simply for you, but it also came to you on the way to someone else. The same love God has for those of you following Jesus is the same love He has for those He has placed you around that do not know Christ.
This purpose is important to know both for those of you following Jesus already, and those who are investigating Him. Part of what made Him so appealing to follow for me was knowing that He was offering me something more significant to live for than just some feel good emotions after a church service. He was asking me to do something challenging with my life like sacrificing for others, boldly sharing Him with my friends, all in the hopes of seeing Him work in other’s lives! I loved the idea of giving my life to something bigger than I could accomplish on my own.
Sometimes asking ourselves “why” can be scary, especially if it is to find an answer to something essential like the purpose of our lives. But asking why for the first time my freshman year of college was the first step toward experiencing the joy of knowing that I am living the way we are created by God to live. So let us begin challenging the status quo and asking “Why?” to begin living on purpose for how God has created each of us to live!