The Haunting Question
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.” - Romans 1:1 Os Guiness calls it “the haunting question.” The question through which we filter so much of our lives: Do I have a purpose? A calling? A reason to live? And if I do, how do I fulfill the central purpose of my life?
Paul knew his purpose for living.
He was a “a servant of Christ Jesus” and he was “called to be an apostle.” Once he met Jesus and came to know Him, Paul accepted the call upon his life and never looked back.
For him, the haunting question was answered.
Fyodor Dosteovsky observed in The Brothers Karamazov, “For the secret of man’s being is not only to live but to have something to live for. Without a stable conception of the object of life, man would not consent to go on living and would rather destroy himself than remain on earth…”1
Not consent to go on living! I can’t imagine a more terrifying and desperate sentence with which to condemn a man.
Remember that childhood song, “Hide your light under a bushel—no! I’m gonna let it shine!” God’s glory is once again manifested on the earth, only this time, the Temple is us!
“Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?” Paul wrote (1 Corinthians 6:19).
To paraphrase the great preacher, John Wesley, “I allow myself to be set on fire by the Holy Spirit then people come to watch me burn.” Another great preacher, Billy Sunday, said, “More men fail through lack of purpose than through lack of talent.”
Life gets boring, apathetic, and frustrating when we don’t quite know what do with ourselves.
Norman Mailer, always stretching for the largeness of life, wrote, “I don’t think life is absurd. I think we are all here for a huge purpose. I think we shrink from the immensity of the purpose we are here for.”
We shrink from our purpose because we don’t actually know what to do, why we should do it, and we are afraid to try.
Sometimes, we’re not even sure we should bother. But to not bother is to be “haunted” throughout our lives, looking for a reason to accept life, hoping for significance, yearning for fulfillment.
Paul never saw himself as one who aspired to a position of honor, but rather as a man who had been given a mission and purpose. He thought in terms of what God wanted him to do—and he did it. His life had meaning, purpose, fulfillment, and joy. It was the abundant life God intends for each of us.
- Dostoevsky, Fyodor, “The Brothers Karamazov,” first published, 1880.