Rick Warren famously began his bestselling The Purpose Driven Life with, “It’s not about you”. He needed to say this straight up because through our fallenness makes us chronically self-centred and the extraordinary affluence of contemporary Western life has magnified this tendency more than ever in history.
The real question with an answer, rather than a query ending in cynical denial or empty speculation, is not “What is the meaning of life?”, but The End For Which God Created The World (Jonathan Edwards 1765).
Beginning, Centre, End
Contrary to the popular modern message about human happiness, “God has a wonderful plan for your life.”, the scriptures testify that existence is for the Lord. Both Father and Son testify about themselves, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation chapter 1 verse 8; chapter 22verse 13). More concretely, the Creator testifies he has made “sons” and “daughters” for “my glory” (Isaiah chapter 43 verses -7).
When I read the Bible for the first time the divine decree, ““You shall have no other gods before1 me.” (Exodus chapter 20 verse 3) came across to me as incredibly selfish. Since then I have accepted my personal response merely illustrated Voltaire’s famous quip, “God made man in his own image, and man has been trying to return the favour ever since.”
Sadly, this is why our perception of a selfish God remains the shallow heart attitude of the vast majority of humanity.
Something to be Seen
Depth of insight into what it means to be made for God’s glory comes through combining scriptures, Psalm chapter 19 verse 1, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship”, Romans chapter 1 verse 20 “God’s invisible qualities have been clearly seen in the things that have been made”, Colossians chapter 1 verse 15, “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God”.
The Father made “all things through Jesus” so that in all things we might see his glory in Jesus (Colossians chapter 1 verse 16). This “seeing” refers to the spiritual insight of an enlightened heart (Ephesians 1:18).
Being a Seer
When someone asks me to test whether they are a “seer” I remind them that “seer” is an old biblical word for “prophet” (1 Samuel chapter 9 verse 9). Then, and far more importantly, I ask them what they are seeing. If they are being true to the purpose for which they were created their response will centre on seeing “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians chapter 4 verse 6).
Any Christian who wants to honour God’s purpose in creating them must live by the truth that “the testimony given by Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy” (Revelation chapter 29 verse 10). Jesus is constantly working to give witness through your life by the power of his Spirit to the glory of the Father in sending him to be your Lord and Saviour.
Our created purpose is to live for Jesus in a way that is visible to all with eyes to see (Matthew chapter 5 verse 16; 1 Peter chapter 2 verse 12). This reminds me of the probing question, “If you were on trial for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you?” How do we see the glory of the Lord and shine it out that others might see his splendour?
Becoming a Seer
Jesus explained his humanity entered into the fulness of the glory of God through suffering according to God’s will, “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Luke chapter 24 verse 26 cf. Romans chapter 6 verse 4). This theme is the constant testimony of the New Testament writers, Luke (Acts chapter 7 verses 54-55), Paul (Romans chapter 8 verse 18; Ephesians chapter 3 verse 13), Peter (1 Peter chapter 4 verse 14).
It has been well said, “The greater the vision from God the greater the suffering for God.” But to this we must add, “The greater the suffering in faithful agreement with the will of God the greater the vision of glory (1 Peter chapter 3 verse 17; chapter 4 verse 19)”.
As Jesus willingly to lose sight of the glory of God (Mark chapter 15 verse 34) so we might dwell in this glory forever (Revelation chapter 21 verse 23), we are called to suffer anything that might illuminate the presence of the Lord in the world through us. The dying words of the persecuted preacher-teacher John Chrysostom (347-407) come to mind as a worthy life goal, “Glory be to God for all things.”
The Rev. Dr John Yates is an Anglican minister in Perth and has 5 children and 7 grandchildren. He spends time in praying, mentoring and writing.John Yates’s previous articles may be viewed athttp://www.pressserviceinternational.org/john-yates.html