He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.
– Friedrich Nietzsche
With Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life reaching about 40 million and Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning at about 12 million copies sold, it’d be an understatement to say that people are searching for their purpose. When materialism fails to satisfy and the family unit seems to be crumbling, men and women everywhere seek for something higher to bring a sense of fulfillment to life. With universities and politicians advocating for a compass-less, postmodern agenda of barbaric, social justice battles for faceless victims, anxiety, anger and strife manifest as the sole results.
As an attempt to calm the storm in the desperate souls’ search for purpose and meaning in a harsh world, I’d like to share what I’ve come to know as my purpose in life. I believe it has potential to enlighten the distraught due to its relevance across diverse situations and circumstances, and I truly believe this purpose to be the general purpose for humanity as a whole.
Biblical Purpose of Man
In order that He might make know the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He had before prepared unto glory
Man is a vessel. God made him as such. Vessels are made for the purpose of containing something. For instance, cups can be considered a type of vessel. The purpose of the cup may be said to contain a liquid. In the same way, man was made as a vessel made to contain something. What was man made to contain?
We may tell what substance a vessel is meant to contain by it’s particular shape, label, or form. In the case of a Coca-Cola bottle, you know that this bottle is meant to contain Coca-Cola due to it’s label. If I were to open a bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola (one of my favorite drinks), only to discover at my consumption of the beverage that it was filled with Dr. Pepper, I would be rather confused, if not outright frustrated. So what is the “label” which man was given?
And God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…’
While all other creatures were created “according to their kind” (Gen. 1: 11, 12, 21, 22, 24, 25), man was created in the very image of the creator. In a sense, we were made with the form and label of God.
To further emphasize this point, I’d just like you to consider your own experience. Just a cursory dose of introspection leads to the realization that we are vessels. All day long, we are trying to fill ourselves with things. Forgetting the obvious physical illustration of such with food (which surely is meant to typify the divine reality of God being the real food – Jn. 6:57), psychologically we are always filling ourselves with music, knowledge, entertainment, art, etc. But man’s composition as a God-shaped vessel renders these meta-physical substitutes wholly dissatisfying. Consider the following:
…He has put eternity in their heart…
There truly is, as the wisest man to ever live before Christ wrote, a God-shaped hole or vacuum in the heart of man. Augustine, in his Confessions, wrote, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Man truly is a vessel made to be filled with God as his content.
Biblical Purpose of God
…for You have created all things, and because of Your will they were, and were created.
All things were created according to and for the will of God.
Making known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Himself.
God’s will, which has been made known through His Word, is according to His good pleasure or heart’s desire. This means that the creation, which was brought into being according to and for the will of God, has the capacity and the destiny to satisfy what is deep in God’s heart.
According to the eternal purpose which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord
Yes, believe it or not, God has an eternal purpose. If you are at all uncomfortable with what I’ve been saying thus far, specifically with things like satisfying God or having a heart’s desire, you simply need to drop your religious, traditional concepts and accept the words of the Bible. Yes, God is complete and perfect in Himself, but that doesn’t exhaust the possibility and reality of His desiring something and creating a will to accomplish such a thing as His eternal purpose.
God’s Purpose and Man’s Purpose
Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the times of the ages
-2 Timothy 1:9
God’s purpose is fully wrapped up in man. Man’s purpose, likewise, should be fully wrapped up in God. We, as believers, were saved not for the sole purpose of getting some fire insurance or even of just becoming fire insurance salesmen (if you know what I mean). We were saved for the grand purpose of God.
We’ve already seen that man’s purpose is to be a vessel containing God. How does this accomplish God’s purpose? What even is God’s purpose? I’m going to quote a few verses at length here if you don’t mind, but then I’ll just about be done, so hang in there…
That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit into the inner man, that Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith…that you may be filled unto all the fullness of God.…To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all the generations forever and ever. Amen.
Notice a few key things in these marvelous verses. First, God is operating according to the riches of His glory in us, that Christ would make His home in our hearts and we would be filled unto all the fullness of God! This reveals the aspect of man’s purpose to be filled, saturated, and permeated with God. Then, you have the returning of this very glory which operates in us to God in the church! This fulfills God’s purpose! God’s purpose is to be glorified, i.e. expressed.
Who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen nor can see, to whom be honor and eternal might. Amen.
-1 Timothy 6:16
God truly is honorable and mighty in Himself. But, in a sense, there is a problem. He can’t be seen or expressed! 1 Timothy 6 reveals that clear as day. God’s hearts desire is to be manifested and expressed to all of creation. He does this by working Himself into His God-labeled creature, man, that He might have a proper and glorious expression.
…the unsearchable riches of Christ as the gospel…
…for the same Lord is Lord of all and rich to all who call upon Him;
The Lord is unsearchably rich. Within His very Person dwells a vast expanse of glorious riches and treasures which can and must be experienced and enjoyed by us. As we partake of these riches by calling on the Lord, enjoying His Word, praying in spirit, praising His name, singing songs to Him, etc. (Jn. 6:57, 63; Eph. 6:17-18; Isa. 12; Col. 3:16; …) both we and God become satisfied. He fills the God-shaped hole in our heart, and we express the glorious God in our daily living.
Truly, this is a desirable, enjoyable, noble, and glorious purpose in life. It is the only real purpose that can satisfy. While life will surely still have all it’s troubles, difficulties, and sufferings, these only act as the how for the infinitely superior why of our dear Lord and Savior:
For our momentary lightness of affliction works out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory
-2 Corinthians 4:17
May the Lord have mercy on us to bring us fully into His wonderful purpose.