“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” (II Peter 1:2, NIV)
What is the purpose of our lives? What is it that we were placed here to do? When I was younger, I was too engrossed in Eccl. 12:13-14 “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (NIV) And more recently John 14:15, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (NIV)
Not that these two passages are wrong. After all, one was spoken by Jesus Himself, and elsewhere in the Bible we are told that God’s Word is never wrong (II Tim. 3:16-17). But that’s not the whole picture. Hardly at all. Rather, these two passages are more the MEANS to the end.
Duty. Obedience. Command. These are some strong words, that people sometimes use to bully or self-oppress, and at other times to legitimately call another out on their wrongs. But when it comes to the issue of “what is our purpose?” I have a feeling there is more to it then this…Like this is a part of it, but not the whole.
A lot of people might say getting into heaven is our goal. Well, a few chapters after Jesus told us to obey Him, He says this: ” ‘Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.’ ” (John 17:3, NIV) Most of the time you hear about eternal life, it’s paired with “asking Christ into your heart.” Now what does that mean? “Hey Jesus, can you come into my heart and crash a while?” What happens when you later decide to “slip up” and do some drinking or swearing? “Hey JC, can you cover your ears/leave the room a moment? You might not like this…” Tolerance. Bad stuff. “JC” doesn’t like that stuff. Remember, He called out people on tolerance. But in this passage, we get an idea of what it practically means to ask Jesus into our lives and how to get into heaven…And dare I say, our purpose?
“What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ…” (Phil. 3:8, NIV)
If we are to know Christ and God…why? Because He is SO much greater than ANYTHING! Nothing compares. Ever. Nor will anything ever compare. Nor has anything ever compared before. HE IS IT! God is the old, present, and new awesome. I AM THAT I AM is Who should rock our world. “This is what the LORD says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the LORD.” (Jer. 9:23.24, NIV) It’s not our new sneakers, our grades, the internship we just got into, or even our loved one’s accomplishments we should be proclaiming to the world…It’s God.
Back to what I knew when I was younger…Obedience and Duty are part of the means, the expression of this love towards God. But what does loving God mean? It means to know Him. All these passages point towards KNOWING HIM. A relationship. Obedience and Duty without love and a relationship are merely religious structures that fall apart when tested by the fire. No, it is a relationship with us the He desires for our lives, and for which He designed us. By obeying Him you can show Him you love Him…but to just obey Him to get into heaven, that shows you to be motivated wrongly.
“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice.” (C.S. Lewis, Til We Have Faces)
Knowing Him is the purpose of our lives. Nothing else compares. So, let us continue to get to know the Lord, “…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:13, NIV) Amen.