What’s The Difference? Part X: Purpose!
Thoughts related to Casey Ingold’s Sermon, Covenant Baptist Church, May 22nd, 2011
Those outside of Christ, living according to the world system, are living without an eternal purpose, whether they know it or not. Possibly the greatest gift one receives at the moment of regeneration (becoming a Christian) is the gift of purpose and meaning in life. Those who have adopted the worldview of Naturalism (the idea that Nature is all there is; we are all products of blind, impersonal forces) have unwittingly bought into a philosophy that says, “Man is a meaningless, purposeless being; an intelligent animal at best.” This is the only logical conclusion that can follow the Naturalistic worldview.
The Christian Worldview – Man’s Value
The Christian worldview stands in direct opposition to Naturalism. A Christian knows that mankind is a creation of God (Genesis 1,2). Not only are we God’s creation but we have been created in a special way: in the image of God Himself.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Every human being is an “image bearer.” This is one of the most important facts the Bible gives us about ourselves. Because we bear the image of God we can know –
- Our lives have value and meaning, beyond our ability to comprehend. Even in our sin and rebellion, God continues to love us. He sent His own Son to become one of us and to die for our sins.
- We have a foundation for loving and valuing others. Everyone is an “image bearer,” and therefore, we are to love them as God loves them. Their value is not based on their behavior. It is based on the fact that they are created in God’s image.
- We have a foundation for the value of human life. As we speak out against injustice in the world, we can do so based on this fact. For example, murder, abortion, and infanticide, are wrong because they violate the life of one who bears the image of God Himself.
- We can love and value ourselves because we bear God’s image. No matter what we have done in our lives, good or bad, our value is based on the fact that we bear His image, which can never change.
The Christian Worldview – Man’s Purpose
As Casey pointed out, Jesus made it clear that man’s purpose is to love God with all our mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. These are the two foundational commandments that the whole law is based on.
Others have said that our purpose is to know God and to enjoy Him forever.
In 1 John, the apostle John points out how we are to know and love God:
Loving God is also wrapped up in loving one another. We can’t love God if we don’t love one another. [Remember, we must love others because they bear the image of God.]
This love for others is not a feeling. God is not telling us to crank up an emotion. The word in the Greek is “agapao” and it means to seek the welfare of all, regardless of their behavior. It is a choice we make to act lovingly, even if it runs contrary to our natural inclinations. It is best seen in the life if Jesus Himself, as He loved those who nailed Him to the cross. It is best described in 1 Corinthians 13. So loving God is obeying His commandments and loving others.
Related to our purpose of loving God, is our eternal goal to know God. As J. I. Packer has stated in his classic book, Knowing God,
What were we made for? To know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. What is the “eternal life” that Jesus gives? Knowledge of God. “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” (John 17:3) What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight, and contentment, than anything else? Knowledge of God. “Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me.” (Jeremiah 9:23ff) What of all the states God ever sees man in, gives Him most pleasure? Knowledge of Himself. “I desire . . . the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings,” says God. (Hosea 6:6).
To follow Jesus means to spend my life getting to know Him, through His word and through walking closely with Him in obedience, loving my neighbor (who bears the image of God) as I love myself (who also bears the image of God). Since God is infinite, we will never come to the end of knowing Him and falling deeper in love with Him for all eternity.