It seems difficult to start a conversation from scratch. There is a piece of me that feels I should start with the basics of the Gospel. Another piece of me wants to write pages of content in order to describe where I’m coming from. The truth of the Gospel message is powerful, and I hope you know that. But at what point does this message mean more than just words? At what point does your preacher’s sermon on Sunday reach beyond the Sunday service and make its way into your everyday life? We hear the Gospel, we know the message and discuss it to others, but has it actually become the focus of our life? What is the purpose of our life? Is there a purpose? This question is foundational for our walk with God and our outlook on our life as believers.
Reward Based Love
Recently I was reading Jeff Vanderstelt’s new book titled Gospel Fluency. In it he writes:
If we try to instruct, counsel, or grow one another with something other than the truths of Jesus Christ, then every area in which we speak something other than Christ will be an area in which we grow away from him. This is why so many people look to Jesus only for their afterlife; they’ve been given the truths of Jesus primarily as the answer for going to heaven when they die. (p.30)
So many Christians see their relationship with Jesus as their ticket to heaven. This is problematic for several reasons. First, this is award based love. Loving anyone only to get something in return is not true love. If I love my wife only to receive a physical response, my marriage will fail. If I love my parents in the hopes they will give me money when I see them, the relationship will fall apart. And if I only love my children in the hopes that they will someday take care of me when I’m old, our relationship will be broken. We do not love Christ in order to get to heaven, rather, we love Jesus because He first loved us (1John 4:19)
The Purpose of Life
The second reason seeing Jesus as a ticket to heaven is problematic, it cheapens our mission in life. If we see our lives as a series of choices that will determine our entrance into heaven, we are not fulfilling our true purpose. This gets back to the age-old question, “why are we here?” The Bible gives a direct answer to this question:
The end of the matter when all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecc. 12:13)
So then, what is the meaning of life? To have a relationship with the living God. This could lead directly into the Gospel message, but that is a post I will save for a different time.
We Live for One Purpose
In the Westminster Shorter Catechism, it begins by asking the question, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer? “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Man was created to glorify God (Is. 43:7). This is important because Scripture tells us our direct calling in life. It is to glorify God.
Anything created for a purpose is best used for that purpose. If you attempt to use a car as a boat, no matter the quality of that car, it will not serve as a seaworthy vessel. This applies to our lives as well. We were created for a purpose, and we will find the greatest joy when we fulfill that purpose. Those who live in sin and reject a relationship with the creator, are not living for their created purpose, and while they may find temporary joy in worldly possessions and relationships, they will not find full satisfaction or happiness in this life. It is only when we turn to God and live for our intended purpose (to glorify God), we will find true joy.
John Piper has coined the term, “Christian Hedonism,” a title based on Phil. 1:20-23, and the idea that our greatest joy in life comes when we are content in Christ at our lowest points. Piper puts it this way, “Christ is most magnified in me, when I’m most satisfied in Him, especially through suffering and death.” Although some have taken issue with the term “Christian Hedonism” the point Piper makes is well taken. When we live our lives for it’s intended purpose, we will find joy even in the most difficult times. We will be the most satisfied with our own lives, when we live for our created purpose, to glorify God.
Post Feature Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash