Rick Warren’s bestseller book Purpose-Driven Life first came out in 2002 and sold 30 million copies in its first 5 years. It tapped into something deep within many readers, and still does. We want to believe that God has a grand purpose for our lives.
How often do fellow-believers recite Jeremiah 29:11 as their life-mantra?
“‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.’”
Never mind that this was a word to a nation, not an individual; to the Jewish exiles, not a single person. All of us crave significance. We want our lives to count for something meaningful. And we want to believe—so deeply—that the Father has something special in mind for us.
Nearly 400 years ago, the Westminster Shorter Catechism grappled with this same basic human urge. The teaching document started with the question, “What is the chief end of man?” That is, what’s the grand purpose for which God has created us?
We quietly hope that His grand purpose aligns with our own dreams, that the Lord’s chief end for us will align with our own secret desires—prosperity, comfort, success, or significance.
But the theologians, academics, and pastors who wrestled that original question to the ground in 1647, found that it yielded a somewhat surprising (and simple) answer. We are not the focus of the grand purpose. God is.
The chief end—God’s real purpose—for each of us?
“To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”
How does that fit for size? It’s far simpler than we might have expected, and has far less to do with us and much more to do with Him.
We glorify God by showing the world His true character. Loving an enemy glorifies Him more than funding a building program. Caring for the wounded trumps sitting in a service.
We glorify God when the world sees Him in and through us. And only then do we really fulfill His design and purpose for our lives. And if we fail to enjoy Him along the way, we lose our moorings.
God indeed has a great purpose for your life. Simply reflect Him and enjoy Him. Yes, He may also call you to a specific task, but never to over-ride this basic purpose.
Let’s get back to basics today.