#32 WHAT ARE WE HERE FOR?

Over the millennia of human existence two questions that are frequently raised focus on the identity and meaning/purpose of human life:

“What is ‘human’?”

And “What are we here for?”

Regardless of our social and educational standing, from the famous and influential philosophers of ancient Greece to the unschooled people of Papuan jungles, these questions puzzle us.

Our contemporary culture, deriving its answers from secular, materialistic, naturalistic science, concludes that to be human is really nothing special: we have no purpose, we are here as a chance result of billions of unplanned, unpredictable, random changes over billions of years. And if life survives on this planet for enough years we too will have evolved into something different.

But the Bible gives completely different answers to our questions:

To be human is to be created by God in his image.

To be created in his image is to be created to reflect his glory.

There is no randomness or meaninglessness here. Rather, there is divine intention here – a deliberate, divine decision to create a specific being with specific qualities and characteristics in and through which the divine glory can be seen. Genesis 1:26-27 tells us that. This creation in the image of God endows ‘human’ with identity and purpose – a glorious identity and a glorious purpose.

But this identity and this purpose are only possible when we are in a right relationship with God. That relationship was present in Genesis 1 and 2. But in Genesis 3 it was severed. When we, in our ancestors Adam and Eve, rejected dependence on God and grasped for autonomy, we also robbed ourselves of our God-given identity and purpose. With our backs to God we could no longer image God. From Genesis 3 onwards we have been what the Bible calls ‘lost’ – not knowing who we are or what we are, not knowing who we belong to, and not knowing what we are here for.

Then Jesus came. Jesus, the image of God. Jesus, the one who could say ‘I have brought you glory on earth’ [John 17:4]. Jesus, through whom we are reconciled to God and our relationship with God restored [2Corinthians 5:19]. Jesus, who by his Spirit is gradually transforming us, restoring us into the image, restoring us to glory [2Corinthians 3:18].

For this reason we find in the Scripture:

That God created us for his glory [Isaiah 43:7].

That Christ in us is the hope of glory [Colossians 1:27].

That we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works [Ephesians 2:10].

That we are to let our light so shine before men that they will see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven [Matthew 5:16].

That whatever we do, whether it’s eating or drinking or whatever, we are to do it to the glory of God [1Corinthians 10:30].

When Peter wrote to his Christian readers he first told them who they were: ‘you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God’ and then he told them why – why God had saved them: ‘that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light’ [2:9]. And he repeated this purpose a few verses later: ‘live such good lives among the pagans that ... they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us’ [2:12].

This is the Christian mandate: that we were created, and re-created, to glorify God.

God saved us – to the praise of his glorious grace [Ephesians 1:6].

God saved us – so that we might be for the praise of his glory [Ephesians 1:12].

God saved us – to the praise of his glory  [Ephesians 1:14].

The responsibility is great, but it is also glorious.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2018