Warning, this is a long post…
What is purpose?
The dictionary defines purpose as the following:
verb (used with object), pur·posed, pur·pos·ing.
verb (used without object),pur·posed, pur·pos·ing.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
In the famous lines of the fish from Finding Nemo in that end-credit scene: Now what?
Indeed, what are we to do? Our purpose is ruined and it looks like there’s little hope for any of us.
Fortunately, that’s not true. We do have a purpose, regardless of Adam’s fall, one that was in place the moment creation was made.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism states the following: (emphasis mine)
Question 1: What is the chief end (or purpose) of man?Answer 1: Man’s chief end (or purpose) is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.(See 1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” and Psalm 73:25-26: “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is non upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.”
My point is, our primary goal in life is to glorify God; God instructed Adam on how to do this, which was to obey God’s commandment to fill the earth and to subdue it. That is still our charge, even though we are no longer in Eden.
The truth is, when we take God out of the picture, life no longer has any meaning. There is so much I could say to prove this point, but I will say this. Look at the world around you. I don’t mean where you’re sitting or wherever you are reading this. I mean, the world in general.
We live in a world of chaos. A world full of disease, wars, death, confusion, identify crisis—the list goes on. We live in a world full of broken marriages, ruined friendships, abortions, suicides, fear, anger, same-sex marriage, murder, hopelessness. Books could be filled with all that’s wrong in the world. This is what happens when God is no longer in the picture. Struggling to find meaning in a world without the One who created and sustains it and Who gave us our purpose only gives us momentary delight before sin discloses the darkness that lies behind the gaudy veil. I’m dead serious. You take God out of the picture and you have complete misery. There is no reason to do anything. People do all sorts of crazy things to give their life a meaning; because a life without God is a life without meaning. When we take our eyes off of Him, there is only the brokenness of the world. And it’s pretty depressing. And to fill that void, we can try everything we can think of, but it will never satisfy.
Because God gave us a purpose: to glorify Him. And when we’re not glorifying Him, life is going to be empty and meaningless.
Some months ago, a friend of mine posted this poem on her Instagram story. I don’t know if she wrote it herself, but it puts what I want to say into words far better than I ever could.
Colossians 1:16 says, “For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and things on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him.”
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
God controls our futures, our destinies, our fates, regardless of any plans we might have. He knows them all and He is in ultimate control of our lives, as evidenced by the following verses:
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD. Plans for peace and not disaster, plans for a future filled with hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
“The LORD work out everything to its proper end—even the wicked for the day of disaster.” Proverbs 16:4
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21
“But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart throughout all generations.” Psalm 33:11
“And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.” Isaiah 46:10-11
This is why we have hope, why we have a purpose—why life has meaning to it. Because even if we don’t win an international title, or get knighted, or publish a best-seller, or write the most amazing music, if we are glorifying God in our day-to-day words and actions, it doesn’t matter if we don’t do great things in the eyes of the world. Because God is glorified and that will bring us a joy that nothing else will.
And that is our ultimate purpose.