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The most famous portion of the Westminster confession (an ancient creed in Church history) goes something like this
Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
Thus spelling out the age old philosophical question of why we are here.
As we continue this series on identity, its fitting to focus on our purpose. As human beings so often, do we find our purpose in what we do. Thus a person who is a medical health professional will say “I am a doctor”, and a professional football player will answer in like fashion as it pertains to their work. Of course we know they are more than this (ie a father, a human being etc) yet, their answer is only a tell tale sign of the human fallacy, in thinking our being comes from what we do.
Take for example the football player who suffers a massive head injury and is no longer able to play the sport. Who do they become then? After all, they’ve put their whole life for the past couple of decades into this sport. Somehow they find themselves lost, and become consumed with trying to figure out what their new purpose will be.
All of us (humans) are similar to the football player. We define ourselves by our strengths, our opportunities, our place in life, our capabilities, and even our inabilities. And just like the athlete, we flounder profusely in the unpredictable sea of life seasons of change happen upon us. For some of us, we are deceived by our strengths. Because we are capable or proficient, we think that ability is the sum total of who we are. For others, we lament at our weaknesses, and somehow we bind ourselves in the confines of our inability, maybe internalizing the thought, “because I am not able, then that is all I will amount to”.
Yet our maker, Christ(who is God), sees this all differently. He defines our purpose right from the beginning. In Genesis, upon creating our first parent Adam, God calls Adam very good. Even before Adam has proven whether he will be good or not. Thus value was bestowed separate from performance. He also proudly calls us made in his own image. As if to say, our purpose is to be a copy of him. We are image bearers for one reason only, to be living sign posts, that point to the reality and the beauty of God. Jesus Christ, later (in the gospel of John) crystallizes the notion that our purpose lies in God and not what we can do. In this passage, some had come to him, with a typically human like question. They asked “how can we do the work of God”? They might have well have said, what thing can we do, that will make us great? Like you and I, they wanted to know their purpose.
Jesus redirected them from the human plane to the divine. From trying to do, to being who they were called to be. He told them, that the greatest thing they can do is to have an intimate knowledge of their creator (himself). How deflated they must have been. They wanted an objective answer, yet he simply pointed them to himself. (John 4….) Jesus knew what we should learn. That the sole purpose of the created thing, is to boast about the prowess of the creator.
The most important thing then in life becomes the pursuit of a relationship with God.
See, knowing God, defines us. Relationship with God simplifies the larger philosophical questions of life. Because instead of seeking purpose, finding God gives us purpose, and within the confines of that purpose we will be fulfilled as we live out our lives to please him. So the singer, the writer, or the home maker, understands that their gifts or opportunities are just a tool towards the end of glorifying God. This tool is not a self-serving, inwardly focused tool. Instead one that seeks to please the maker, and the do the work of God, because in doing that we will glorify God and enjoy him forever.
– Pastor Olu Jegede