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God's Will / Our Purpose, Calling, Great Work Edit

If sin can be understood as that which separates, that which reconnects is being on purpose with integrity.

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The Bible says that "God writes the desires of our heart." When these "desires of the heart" (not to be confused with "wants of the mind" or "lusts of the flesh") spur us to be in action, we are in the center of God's will and can trust that what we say and do will be in the interests of the entire body of life.

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God's will, our purpose, is really more about being than it is about doing (though of course the two are related). Who we BE at any given moment (our character, our heart's commitment, our soul's passion) is the primary determinant of what we will do or not do. Our mission (what we do) and our callings (the directions we are led) flows naturally from our purpose (who we are for God).

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"Where our deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet, we hear a further call." — Frederick Buechner

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Discerning God's Will: An Exercise

Take a piece of paper and make three columns. Then, while you're in a non-judgmental, accepting space, pay attention to your body and focus on your heart. In other words, close your eyes, put your attention on the center of your chest for a few minutes, and just notice the sensations of breathing and the gentle rhythmic beating of One Heart within you.

After a few minutes of noticing rather than thinking, begin bringing to mind those activities, projects, passions, or interests that give you joy and pleasure and happiness in life. Not merely items like eating chocolate or lying on a tropical beach, but whatever gives you deep and lasting satisfaction — like when you've offered a helping hand or in some way contributed to others or to your community in a way that made you feel great. What do you love doing? What lights you up, gives you energy, or ignites your imagination?

Now, title the left column "My Joys" and begin to list the words and phrases that articulate what you've just brought to mind: pursuits you've done or seen or read about others doing and that you can imagine yourself doing — anything that feeds your heart, nourishes your soul, and makes you feel fantastic about yourself. Be sure to include whatever you're good at and what other people would say you're good at. Periodically stop thinking and writing just to notice — notice your breathing, the sensations of your body, the beating of your heart, extraneous sounds. Then, as more possibilities come to mind, add to your list of " My Joys". Take your time with this; it's very important.

Then close you eyes again and return your attention to the center of your chest, to the region of your heart, and ask yourself this question: "Where do I hurt over what is happening to others and/or what's happening to my community or my world? What troubles me or causes my heart to ache? Where do I get angry or frustrated or depressed? What causes my heart to open with compassion?"

Now, title the column on the right "World's Needs" and begin to create your new list. Don't worry about "getting it right" or putting everything down the first time. Just keep your lists handy, and add to them as more ideas spontaneously arise over the next few days. In fact, periodically revisiting and adding to your list is a spiritual practice that can span a lifetime.

After both lists ("My Joys" and "World's Needs") have been fleshed out, allow your imagination to roam while you begin to creatively mix and match. Ask yourself: "What are some possible avenues (both the practical and the outlandish) where my great joy and the world's great need intersect? How might I contribute my time and energy in ways that would make a difference to at least one other person or creature, and that would also give me great joy?"

Now, in the center column, begin to list these intersections, perhaps drawing diagonals to the specific items in the surrounding columns that would thus be connected. Don't censor or judge the possibilities yet; write freely, periodically stopping to just breathe and imagine.

Where your great joy and the world's great need intersect will indicate the directions of your calling, your mission, your vocation — God's will for you at this time and place. This is where you can join with the impulse of evolution, with the flow of Life, and thus participate consciously in what God is doing in the world.

Finally, once again taking time to first bring your attention back to the middle of your chest, look over your middle column and ask your heart to guide you in completing the following sentence: "I exist in the world to serve by..." or "I exist in the world to be a blessing by..." and just jot down any words or phrases that come to mind. Then bring your attention back to the center of your chest and wait until more is revealed. Editing can come later. This is the time simply to listen and record whatever your heart leads you to say.

Being able to articulate your life purpose in a single sentence (knowing that the way you express it will probably change many times over the years) is a powerful spiritual practice, especially when combined with a commitment to take practical steps each week in the direction of where your great joy and the world's great need intersect.

NOTE: People often find it helpful to do this exercise in partnership with someone else. Those who have done so report that their partner was usually able to spot possible intersections that they had missed, and vice versa.

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A person's great work, or life purpose, is much less discovered than it is co-created. One of the most common mistakes people make in the process of trying to discern God's will is assuming that they should wait until the path or direction is revealed from on high. Co-creation means checking in with your heart, noticing (rather than thinking), breathing, listening, and then making it up! In the days and weeks (and years) ahead, it will become clear when adjustments are to be made, when a temporary tangent becomes the most alluring path. The important thing is simply to begin, and then to trust that by saying "yes" to the invitation to participate, doors will open and subtle signs will guide your way.

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Being on purpose — being in the center of God's will — is allowing the wisdom of One Heart (God) to guide you in being a blessing to the present and to the future.

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Reality is composed of nested "holons" — creative wholes that are part of larger creative wholes that are part of still larger wholes, like nesting dolls — subatomic particles within atoms within molecules within organisms within planets, and so forth. Everything is simultaneously a whole and a part — a holon. "God" is a sacred name for that Ultimate Creativity or Infinite Whole having no other whole of which it is part. "God" is a proper name for that all-embracing Reality which includes, yet transcends, every other level of reality.

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Each of us is a part of the Whole being allured by the Whole to be of service to the Whole.

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There is a direction to God's will and creativity. Being on purpose is aligning with this direction and consciously furthering what God has been up to for billions of years.

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The Universe, expanding within the heart of God, is becoming more complex, self-aware, and capable of experiencing and expressing love over time, and humanity is an integral part of this process. An arrow of progress has been moving through Creation since the beginning — albeit slowly for much of history and not without chaos and setbacks which, in fact, are major drivers of transformation. We can relate to this directional process as Creation itself maturing, as expressing greater cooperation, interdependence, and awareness at ever-increasing scale and evolvability.

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Given post-biblical revelations such as these: 1) Creation is nestedly creative, and 2) evolution has a direction, "God's will" for us (our purpose), individually and collectively, can be understood in ways that honor and embrace, yet transcend, earlier interpretations.

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Exploring where "humankind's great joy" and "the world's great needs" intersect can give us a sense of God's will for us collectively — our species' calling, purpose, or Great Work.

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What is the role of humanity in the body of Creation? What talents and strengths do we uniquely bring to the community of life? How shall we envision our destiny as a species? These are among the most important questions being asked and discussed in the early 21st century.

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Beginning with the birth of symbolic language and intensifying with advances in consciousness, culture, and technology, humanity has become an expression of the Universe through which Creation can now consciously celebrate itself, its immense journey, and the divine Mysteries of origins and ends (Alpha and Omega). Through our own understanding and awe of the Great Story woven of the vastness of space and time, Creation itself is awakening to the wonders of the Whole, to honor the Whole, and to co-create with the Whole.

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What are unique gifts of the human? We gawk at the stupendous beauty and majestic splendor of time, space, matter, energy, and spirit (consciousness). We are humbled before the awesome power of that Reality which transcends all our attempts to understand or control it.

Our passion for learning, for exploring, for connecting, for communicating, for sharing information and experience ever more widely and deeply are among our great gifts to the Whole. So, too, is our ability to weep, to grieve, to feel sadness and despair, to know joy, taste ecstasy, fall in love, and to suffer-with (feel compassion) as our concerns and relationships continue to grow.

We are where spirit/matter can experience, with feeling, its own emotional and psychic depths and consciously participate in its own evolutionary emergence, honoring the Whole of Reality in the process.

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We are nature's memory, life's storytellers, evolution's bards. The dinosaurs perished 65 million years ago and the memory of these majestic beasts was utterly lost to the life community. In a sense, Earth had amnesia until God (The Whole) created a creature with talents that would one day give glory to bones long encased in stone. If not for the human, who would dig up dinosaur fossils and build monuments to their memory? If not for the human, who would sing praises to that immanent and transcendent Reality that gave us birth, calls us home, and sustains us every step along the way?

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By learning God's Way (nature's laws — evolution's patterns, trends, and tendencies) and applying that knowledge to how we organize ourselves as a species, we facilitate Creation's ongoing development (maturing) in the direction of greater cooperation, interdependence, and capacity for love and compassion at ever-wider scale and evolvability. This is where our collective great joy and the world's great need intersect!

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Our purpose, collectively (humanity's Great Work), is to reincarnate Christ-like values and usher in the kingdom of God. How? By allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us in co-creating local, regional, and global forms of governance such that individuals, corporations, and nation-states significantly benefit from cooperating and serving the common good and significantly pay for not cooperating or disregarding the common good. That is, where there are real and effective incentives for doing the right thing and equally effective disincentives for lying, cheating, dominating, stealing, polluting, or otherwise doing the wrong thing.

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Real self-interest is being on purpose, being in alignment with the desires God has written on one's heart and pursuing the good of the larger and smaller holons of one's existence. It's win-win-win all the way home.

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Freedom of choice is an amazing gift. Sorting between competing motivations is the essence of this spiritual challenge: how to distinguish the leading of the Holy Spirit from those wants and lusts that are part of our nature yet do not also serve the larger or smaller holons of our existence?

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Purpose is our permanent connection to One Heart, the "I Am" of all existence. When we are on purpose — pursuing our great work — we are centered in God's love, grounded in God's grace, and fulfilling God's will.

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Like everything else that is part of Creation, we are forever changing. Whether or not we evolve in the direction of greater Christ-likeness is our choice in each moment. The quality of our lives is shaped by one question perhaps more than any other: "What will I choose to think or do right now?"

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What is the opposite of sin? Being on purpose: pursuing your great work, your calling, your destiny. What comes naturally from following the guidance of your heart in this direction? Shalom — the peace that passes all understanding, knowing you are wholly with and in God — and renewed passion for life, knowing that you are leaving a positive legacy.

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The key to remaining on purpose is developing the habit of reminding yourself that genuine self-interest (as opposed to perceived self-interest) is served by allowing our heart (Christ) to guide us in nurturing the good of the larger holons of which we are part and the smaller holons for which we are responsible.

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Our purpose (God's will), today, is essentially what Jesus said it was two thousand years ago: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor (including your enemy) as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Translated into modern-day speech: "Love the whole of Reality (immanent and transcendent) passionately, with everything you've got, and know that by pursuing the wellbeing of the larger and smaller holons of your existence, you are not only furthering your own wellbeing, you are fulfilling the Law and ushering in the Kingdom!"

Resources Edit

"Let's Stop Trivializing God, the Universe, and Our Role in Evolution!" - foundational essay

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