start out thinking about what I want for dinner or what movie to watch and before I know it I am left hungry and terribly sad, waiting for the end.
What I am learning (and re-learning and re-learning.... eventually this will stick, right?) is that the purpose to life has absolutely nothing to do with our birth or our death, our successes or failures. We are here for a distinct and narrow purpose: to glorify God. Whether or not we get happiness or paradise or prosperity is completely irrelevant. Our successes mean squat if they are done for any other reason than to worship God. He is everything... He is the Creator, the Author, the Be-all-end-all of existence itself. He is the only thing worthy of any kind of praise. He's it. And He loves us. Oh... how He loves us... Not because we are brilliant or kind (read the news lately? We're pretty wretched as species go). He loves us because God is good… But just because He created us doesn’t mean He has to.
So often we focus on what's in it for us... When we talk to people about Christ we bring up Heaven and Hell. Do you know where you're going? Do you want to be sure? Then come follow Christ. But isn't that missing the point? If God didn't promise Heaven at the end of this life, than shouldn't we still want to glorify the King of Kings? If we did not have the incentive of peace and joy shouldn't we still be just completely honored that the Creator would be glorified by us? Just because God does offer paradise and peace, just because he does love us with deep affection and treat us with pure compassion doesn't mean that our worship is dependent on those things. We don’t worship Him because He’s so nice to us, we worship Him because that’s what we were created for. Frankly, it seems we can’t really help it.
A wonderful side effect of handing your life over to Christ is that you do end up feeling more fulfilled, but that is certainly not the point, not even remotely. I have wanted to feel close to God, to feel loved and accepted so I have prayed that God would give me joy and peace and comfort. But I think that is the wrong prayer. I should ask for peace and joy and comfort, but not so that I can feel better; instead so that He’s exalted and my life becomes a testament to who He is. Because no matter which way I look at it, it’s not about me. If even the rocks cry out, if even the heavens declare the glory of God, how can we resist joining their praise? When we dance, we glorify the One who gave us rhythm. When we sing we glorify the One who gave us a voice. When we walk we glorify the One who gave us legs. When we merely breathe we glorify the One who gave us lungs. Just as the Sistine Chapel praises Michelangelo’s skill and hard work, we cannot help but bring God glory. The fact that He takes a special interest in us, that He concerns Himself with our details is a bonus. A very significant, very sobering bonus, but not the ultimate reason we are here. We’re here to bring Him glory because He deserves it – and because He loves us we also get to have a relationship with Him… Because He is good we get to acclaim Love… How incredible…
Matthew 16:24-26 says, “Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” He says in Luke 22:26 that the leaders should serve… In Matthew 5 He gives us a whole list of seeming conundrums. The Kingdom of God is upside down when we think of it in familiar terms, but that’s because we are missing the point in life. The greatest commandment – the one we’re told covers all the others - is to love God with everything we’ve got and in 1 John we’re told that we love because He first loved us. So because He loves us we are given the privilege of loving Him back. We’re not being original here. We’re not carving a new path. We’re simply recognizing what has always been the case and adjusting our attitudes and actions accordingly. That’s what being a Christian is. It’s not getting your ticket to Heaven or attaining fulfillment… It’s giving up the denial and admitting that God is God then letting Him take over. He’s worthy of our praise whether we get anything out of it or not… And He’ll get it, too, whether we recognize it or not.