Whether being discussed in a classroom filled with students who have most of their lives in front of them, in the office amongst co-workers where many are trying to find enjoyment wedged between pressure filled meetings and staring at their computer for hours at a time, or in a retirement home at the 4:45pm dinner table, when this question is asked or presented to the group, it always grabs the attention of the crowd.
Though some may not dwell on the answer as long or intently as others, this does not change the weightiness of the matter. It is a question that cares not what stage of life you are in, how much wealth you have obtained, what race or color you are, or your age. To the thoughtful and deep thinking, the question demands a satisfactory answer. But what is satisfactory? The answer I am comfortable with and will allow me to move on from the question? One that will allow me to sleep at night? One that saves face with my children, friends, or co-workers? Or is there one true answer to the question that everyone should align to? The question we are discussing is “What is the purpose of Man?”
To the thoughtful and deep thinking, the question demands a satisfactory answer. But what is satisfactory?
Many gladly preach “to each their own” when analyzing different answers to this question, and I understand this response. When this question is asked, the person who raised the question is typically looking for a response from another individual, expecting their opinion. The person isn’t expecting a textbook answer, but rather a meaningful response from the heart. Since each individual can have differing opinions on what is meaningful in life, it is no wonder the responses are different. But… aren’t we all human? Don’t we all have the same origins? Don’t we all have the same creator, and since we all have the same maker, shouldn’t we all have the same purpose or at least have very similar goals in life?
Before we get to these questions, I want to present another. Why is this question so important to so many people? Why is this being discussed in coffee shops and hospitals? Why is this being talked about in schools and funeral homes? Why is there a group of co-workers huddled at a cube chatting about the purpose of life while a group of kids are in a classroom talking about the same question? I submit it is because most have a fear of living a wasted life, and if I am not fulfilling my purpose here on earth what else am I doing but wasting my life. It is morbid to think about, so most try to avoid the thought, but most of us will have to lie on a deathbed and wrestle with whether or not we “lived a good life”. Did I accomplish what I set out to? Did I leave behind something special? We don’t want to be the sad/lonely/bitter/afraid person slipping away from this world’s realm, so we wisely ask the question today “what is my purpose?” How can I avoid leaving this world feeling empty or unaccomplished? What is the purpose of Man?
Most have a fear of living a wasted life, and if I am not fulfilling my purpose here on earth what else am I doing but wasting my life.
When looking online, the most common answers to the question revolve around putting yourself in the best position to be happy, to love and experience, or to leave a legacy for family members to come after. All of these thoughts seem reasonable on the surface but are lacking because they don’t get to the core. These are the effects, but not the cause. Being truly happy, loving fully, experiencing deeply, and giving something special for the family you leave behind are all outcomes of fulfilling your purpose on this earth, but not the cause or purpose.
Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes describes seeking happiness and joy through all sorts of experiences. He had wealth and wisdom beyond measure which he could leave behind for his family through his writings and his gold and silver. Yet Solomon doesn’t reference seeking happiness in the final chapter as his personal goal or purpose in life. He doesn’t advise that people seek fame or fortune. He doesn’t say the whole of man is to love and be loved. He points to the real purpose of man from which all good things in this life and the life to come spring from.
Being truly happy, loving fully, experiencing deeply, and giving something special for the family you leave behind are all outcomes of fulfilling your purpose on this earth, but not the cause or purpose.
1 Peter 2:9-10
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 1:13-16
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be confirmed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “you shall be holy, for I am holy.”
Getting back to the concept of there being one true purpose for all man, think back to a time long ago when God through Moses had just brought the Israelites out of Egypt away from slavery and pain. He led the people to Mount Sinai and Moses went up on the mount to speak with God alone and God expressed a theme to Moses that goes along with the theme of the entire history of man. We see in Exodus 19 that God said, “if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples.” This statement is mirrored again in Leviticus 26 where God said “If you walk in my statues and observe my commandments and do them… then I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.”
1 Peter chapter one also uses the language of “a people for his own possession.” Didn’t God create man from the beginning to be his possession? God created Adam and Eve and gave them the Garden of Eden to dwell in and there they lived in perfect unity with God. This unity continued as long as they did what? Followed his voice and kept his commandments. In the beginning the only rule they were given to follow was to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As the Bible tells, Adam and Eve did exactly what they shouldn’t have and from then on, they were kicked out of the garden and away from perfect unity with God.
Fast forward to the time of Noah. God originally created man to be his possession but then became very sad he had created man because they had turned evil. Only Noah and his family were found to be walking with God, and so Noah’s family would be God’s possession and he would establish a new covenant with them. God brought the flood, but Noah was saved because he did all that God commanded him. Fast forward after the flood and you will find that Noah sinned and the generations after Noah did not walk with God. And the story continues. God established a covenant with Abraham and through Abraham came the Israelites, but they too forsook God and refused to be his possession. Time and time again God sought to have humans fulfill their purpose of being his possession and time and time again people refused.
Time and time again God sought to have humans fulfill their purpose of being his possession and time and time again people refused.
It is clear that mankind’s purpose in life is to be a people of God’s own possession. But how do I fulfill my purpose? How do I become a person of God’s own possession? Some would say we have to love the Lord your God with all your heart. That is correct. Others would say that you have to follow God’s rules. That is also correct. The ideas of loving God and keeping his commandments cannot be separated when looking into how we become a person of God’s own possession. They are one. In John 14 Jesus says, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments.” He goes on to say “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” In John 15 Jesus says, “if you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”
The ideas of loving God and keeping his commandments cannot be separated when looking into how we become a person of God’s own possession. They are one.
Finally, there is one last question that needs to be answered. Why should I care to make being a person of God’s own possession my life’s purpose? 1 John 5 says “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him… For this is the love of God that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our Faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
If you truly want victory in this life; if you truly want to have no regrets when your time is up; if you would rather feel confidence vs. fear when you face God in judgement, then you must strive on this earth to be His. Walking with God will enable you to live life joyfully and peacefully (The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want… he leads me beside still waters), to having loving relationships with others on this earth (love your neighbor as yourself), and having a legacy your family can be proud of (Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it). Focus on being God’s possession, and everything else will take care of itself. Fulfill your purpose!