It’s one of life’s biggest and deepest questions; It’s a question of purpose . . .
“Why do I exist? Why am I here?”
For all of history, philosophers have done their best to answer this question but have fallen short. Musicians and philosophers and poets have written songs and sonnets attempting to answer this question. If you’re young, this idea of purpose might be a daunting thing, something you’re thinking, I’ve got to find the answer or be thrust into this ocean without a life preserver.
And if someone – through action, word, or deed – has said that you have no worth, no value or that if you were to disappear today, no one would know or care, it’s the answer you need right now to this vague, vast question. So here it is . . .
Your purpose in life is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
The reason you draw breath, the reason God knows your name and formed you in your mother’s womb, the reason you just took that breath is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
Doesn’t sound too exciting, does it? It’s a little generic, right? Surely my purpose is more in depth than that. Are you telling me that the reason I’m here is to glorify God and my purpose is the same as that person sitting right next to me?
You might be thinking,
Glorifying God doesn’t sound like enough; it’s too simple.
It sounds like a Christian cliché bumper sticker—nice in theory but not very practical or helpful.
That’s not specific enough. My purpose should look more like the American dream: climb the educational ladder, pursue some entrepreneurial endeavor, provide for my family, have all the things I desire, retire comfortably, and then have my children repeat the process.
Education, careers, family, provision—these are noble things. They are great and fantastic goals. We should all be about providing for our family and taking care of our children. BUT these things are not the purpose we were created for. We were created to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
Everything else is peripheral; temporal; things that ultimately will fall away like wood, hay, and stubble. When you try to find your purpose in those things it’s like putting your identity into a house of cards. It doesn’t take much to make it fall down. All it takes is something like your health taking a turn for the worse, or a rebellious child, or losing your job. When the things that we made the very fabric of our lives unravel, we end up with nothing; our purpose disappears.
Then we begin evaluating ourselves and thinking, I’ve lost my purpose, maybe I don’t matter . . . And now things like depression, anxiety, fear, and even suicidal thoughts can creep in.
This is why we need to realize that our purpose is in eternal things, not the temporal things of this world. Glorifying God and enjoying him forever is a purpose that will last into eternity.
In fact, God designed that all of life, from beginning to end, is about bringing him glory. It is the theme here and now and it will be the theme after we die. In the very end of the book of Revelation, when the saints and elders are gathered around God’s throne in heaven, they’re not saying, Let’s glory in this place; Let’s glory in the streets of gold; Let’s glory that there’s no more sorrow, sickness, or pain, and that I’m with my loved ones. There’s none of that written. Instead they gather around the throne saying, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come. That is the purpose of heaven.
But how do we glorify God in the here and now? If only there was someone we could look to for an example, someone who got it right, who perfectly understood what it was to glorify God and enjoy him forever? There’s just one person who did: Jesus. If there was one person who walked this earth and lived this idea, who embodied what it meant to glorify God, it was him.
In John chapter 17, Jesus is praying to God his Father before he is about to go to the cross. He says, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you” (John 17:1b). In other words, he knew the time had come for him to suffer God’s wrath for the sins of all who would believe in him and die in their place, the most extreme anguish and suffering any person would ever endure, but he was ready. He was ready because this was his purpose. His entire purpose for all of eternity was for this very moment, to redeem a people for himself, an act that would bring ultimate glory to his Father.
He goes on to say, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (John 17:4). All the healing, all the cast out demons, all the feeding of thousands, turning water to wine, and raising the dead, were ALL for the purpose of proving he was the Son of God which pointed people to his Father, thereby bringing him glory. He understood his entire purpose was to glorify God. So when Jesus says in Matthew 5:16 to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven,” he is the perfect example of this.
If you’ve thought to yourself, Okay, I understand my purpose now, but what’s the vehicle I use to actually glorify God? Here’s your answer: worship.
Worship is one of those words that’s gotten muddy over time. We begin to associate worship with something that was never God’s design. By definition, worship means to ascribe worth to something.
Worship can be used in two different forms, a noun or a verb. Worship is relegated to the noun form in church these days. “I’m going to the worship service today.” What we’re saying is, I’m going to an event I put on my calendar. Rinse and repeat from last week. Or when we say, “I especially loved the worship today,” we’re more than likely talking about the songs. It is easy to go to a place and do a thing, but worship was never meant to be a noun; it was meant to be a verb.
The Greek word for worship is proskuneo, a posture of bowing before the Lord in worship. It is a posture of the heart. We get low before the Lord, bow before our Maker, acknowledge we are less and he is so much greater. We come like Isaiah did in chapter six of his book, where he was one of the most holy men but he said, “Woe is me. For I’m a man of unclean lips, and you are holy.”
Can you imagine the shift and change that would happen in our lives, in our children’s lives, in the lives of the people we are discipling if we looked at worship not as a noun, but as a verb?
Can you imagine the transformational power in our hearts when we understand that worship is not about the walls, the sound system, lights, song preferences, or traditions, but about coming before a holy God and actively worshiping him from the heart?
That was when they understood they weren’t there to glorify their songs, or their church, or themselves, they were there for their hearts to be glorifying the Lord.
But this isn’t just a modern problem. The people in prophet Malachi’s time were dealing with the same thing. Prior to Jesus, God ordained a sacrificial system of animals to atone for the people’s sin. The animal had to be pure, undefiled, the best; it had to cost them something. They had to put thought and effort into it. But they were bringing lame and diseased animals, putting no thought into their worship of the Lord; just going through the motions. They were bringing the thing of worship, the noun, where worship amounted to nothing more than an animal, but not performing the action in their hearts.
Profoundly God says, “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand” (Malachi 1:10). God is saying, if your heart is not in it, then you might as well shut the doors to the temple. Lock them. Don’t let anybody in. Turn off the lights, turn off the sound system, everybody go home. Because what you’re doing is unacceptable.
The priests and the people had forgotten their purpose. They didn’t understand that every day, in every place, in every act, God is to be glorified. All of life is about worshipping God. They had forgotten that from the rising of the sun to its setting, God’s name will be great among the nations (Malachi 1:11).
But isn’t that so like you and me? We glorify our families, hobbies, possessions, status, pet sins, anything but the Lord our God. We are prone to wander in so many different directions that take our focus off our purpose of worshipping the one true God. Just like the old hymn says, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it; seal it for Thy courts above.”
And when we begin to see our purpose with kingdom eyes, to look at what God’s given us as a way to glorify God, it will fundamentally change our lives. When we bring God the glory due his name, we find our greatest joy and pleasure. And we will finally have the peace and sense of value that comes with understanding and living out our true purpose—glorifying and enjoying the great God of the universe.
Copyright © 2021 by Travis Sellers @ antiochconway.com