Why are we on earth? What is the essence of human life? Why did God create us? What is the purpose for our lives? These are familiar questions that have engaged the minds of virtually all human beings irrespective of their religious background as long as man has been alive. Regardless of who you are, at some point in life, the question of one’s purpose in life will come up.
The answer to this question is often not straight forward, and the response often varies depending on who you ask. Some of the most notable responses I have heard are, “I am here to fulfil my mission”. “I am here to accomplish a purpose”. “I am here to impact my generation”. A more ambitious answer will read “I am here to change the world”.
As believers, the wisest thing to do is to answer the question of the purpose of our lives from the perspective of God. Indeed, God created us and He only knows the end to which He created us.
To this I turn to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism
What is the chief end of man?
You see, the answers, “I am here to fulfill my mission”, “I am here to accomplish a purpose”, “I am here to impact my generation” and “I am here to change the world” are not wrong in themselves. But when we attend to the question posed by the catechism again, we notice all the answers fall short. Of all the many reasons people hold as the reason for their existence, the catechism is asking us, which of them stands out? Not two, not three–but the one that summarises all of human existence-“Man’s chief end,” The Catechism answers “is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever”.
Here we see before us, the very reason for human existence;
(I). Glorify God and
(II). Enjoy Him Forever.
This is what we were created for. This is why we were born. This is the whole essence of human existence. You can write up a thousand and one reasons for human existence, but the sum of it all will be to “Glorify God and Enjoy Him Forever”. If this is the whole reason for our existence, then it is of utmost importance to understand what it means to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
1. Glorifying God
A Charge to keep I have. A God to glorify
~ Charles Wesley
God is the Creator of the universe and all that is within it. He created the universe and its inhabitants for His glory: “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”(Revelation 4:11). This is a scene in heaven where the heavenly creatures ascribe glory to God. They acknowledge the supremacy of God. He is worthy to receive glory, honour and power! God has certain attributes that set Him apart from all of His creation. He is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth (WSCQ4). All these and many others describes the very essence of God.
To glorify God therefore is to first and foremost acknowledge Him and all of His power and attributes. It is to give God first place in our lives. Some have no place for God in their lives. Either they don’t believe in His existence or if they do, they do not submit to Him. The Bible in Romans 1:18-37 describes what happens to people who do not acknowledge God in their lives. They are left to themselves. The purpose of their existence becomes distorted because they reject God. And when people reject God, they are set loose to indulge their flesh and pleasures to their own shame and punishment. Not so with the believer. Our motivations, desires, drive and aspirations must align with God’s will.
Secondly, glorifying God means living a life that pleases Him. All we do as believers must be geared towards this one great end–the glory of God; because that is what we were created for, to bring glory to God (Isaiah 60:21, Romans 11:36). We are not free to live a self-pleasing life. We are God’s. He is our Creator. He owns us. He redeemed us for Himself that we will bring glory to His Holy name: “for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1Corinthians 6:20). In Ecclesiastes 12:13, after Solomon had offered all his wise counsels, he makes a remarkable conclusion worth our meditation: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man”. Fear God, keep His commandments and you have found your purpose for existence.
This is a non-negotiable, our lives must be glorifying to God in all we do: “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”(1Corinthians 10:31).
Finally, glorifying God involves worship–adoration, praise and exaltation. In Psalm 86:9, we see this truth well illustrated. The Psalmist said “All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name” Clearly, the first and second points logically leads to worship and adoration. See how the text quoted points to this: (i) All the nations you have made (ii) shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.
To acknowledge God as a Creator must produce an awe in us leading us to break forth in doxology.
2: Enjoy God Forever.
Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in Thee
In Augustine’s statement, we find a profound truth. God created us for Himself, and it is only in Him we will find our true satisfaction. When you look around, it is obvious people are seeking for satisfaction in wrong places. Some have turned to alcohol and drugs to find satisfaction for the emptiness of their souls. While others sink their souls in illicit relationships and sex, materialism and worldliness. All these are temporal measures for an eternal problem. .
One of my favourite Scriptures, John 6:68 points to a life that is totally surrendered to Christ without alternatives: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (John 6:68). To Peter, Christ was his all. Every believer must come to a point in their lives where they are fully aware all they are and will ever become takes its source from God. We must be able to say with Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” Jesus said, “without me you can do nothing”(John 15:5).
In Psalm 16:5-11, the Psalmist reveals to us the profundity of who God is to him. In verse 5, he tells us the Lord is his portion. Under the Mosaic covenant God chose the Levites, setting them apart for sanctuary services. Unlike the other tribes, He gave them no inheritance. They didn’t own lands and property because God had told Aaron “You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel” (Numbers 18:20). This, though it will not apply to us directly today, the application remains that God is our “portion and inheritance”. Indeed, you can gain the whole world and lose your soul. But if God is your portion, then you have found life and satisfaction in Him. “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (v11)
How will you describe your relationship with God? Is your life glorifying to Him? Are you pleasing Him? Do you yearn to know Him? Can you say you love God? Are you enjoying Him? It is time to move away from the peripherals and actively engage your heart in a deeper pursuit of God.