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The Purpose Driven Life

By Sputnik ~

One of the questions I think many face after leaving a life of intense church involvement is: “Why did it take me so long to realize this is not real?” One answer may be that it is indeed, difficult to ‘see the wood from the trees’ when one is wholeheartedly submerged in church life. In my experience, it was only after months of decompression, of removing myself completely from the influence of that world, that I started to connect the dots of how and why I was so deeply manipulated. Today, 2 years later, I am still connecting them. What emerges helps me understand a little and hopefully move forward.

‘The Purpose Driven Life’ is a famous Christian book I read years ago. It is easy to see why it became a best seller - who wants to lead an aimless life? For some this need for purpose is heightened - and once they hear about heaven & hell, eternal destiny and ‘the Kingdom of Heaven’ it is an irresistible and final answer to their search, the holy grail of purpose. Others are born into this and never question. Such were the leaders that I followed. Many times they boldly stated that they refuse to accept that “the only point of life is to live and die, that this is all there is.” That just cannot be.

These addicts of purpose are at the forefront of the church planting movement*. But how do they get others to join them in their quest for immortal glory? Many potential followers reject out of hand the equivalent charismatic ‘addicts of wealth & power’ - their greed and need to control are far too obvious. They are frauds that can be spotted a mile away. In contrast these chasers of destiny exude nobility - many abandon successful secular careers, downscale their lifestyle and accept a life of uncertainty, quite often in a new city or even country. In their minds they are driven to find ‘the pearl of great price’. To those searching for meaning in life they shine brightly and it is not surprising that they attract a following.

But what if there is no eternal destiny to be gained or lost? What if the whole setup exists only because of the human needs it fulfills in it’s participants? What if these leaders are sincerely deluded? In their minds it’s all about ‘saving the lost’. They lay down their lives for the sake of others, holding nothing back, and expect their followers to do the same.

The irony is that the exact opposite might be true. In their search for purpose they have created something that revolves around them and their needs. In reality it’s all about them. A great big organism that delivers constant shots of eternal purpose to feed their addiction. Every soul that is won, every answer to prayer, every positive event in the lives of those in their community is a gratifying ‘this is because of me, because I heeded the call’. And in such an organism, followers are reminded to ‘count the cost’, to ‘deny self’ and to ‘lay it all down’. The pearl of great price beckons.

*The church planting movement: believers in local churches are encouraged to start a new congregation in a different location without any formal training or experience.