A Joyful Purpose in Life


Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

Mark 8:34-37

The post-Reformation period was a trying time in England. During the 1640’s, the English Civil War was raging between the king, Charles 1, and the English parliament. The latter was intent on transforming the Church of England into a body that believed and functioned in a manner more consistent with the Word of God and other Reformed churches in Europe. To accomplish that goal, Parliament convened an assembly of 121 learned churchmen to gather in Westminster (now a borough of London), England. Their lengthy deliberations (1643-1649) produced three of the most famous ecclesiastical documents of the “modern” church era: The Westminster Confession and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.

Question number one of the Shorter Catechism is known as the most succinct statement of the purpose of humankind that has ever been penned. Question: What is the chief end of man? Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. The simplicity of that statement is confounding to those who would wax eloquent and philosophic about the purpose of humankind. In its essence, it says that true human existence is discovered only against the backdrop of God’s existence. The human purpose, that is, is given meaning by the divine purpose. And that purpose results in a never-ending joy that results from coming home—rediscovering the roots of one’s existence in the Creator.

Jesus spoke in words that no doubt informed the Westminster divines in their search to describe the purpose of humankind. He said that one had to lose his or her life in order to discover ultimate purpose. And if we insist on trying to find purpose in ourselves and our own pursuits, we will ultimately lose our life altogether. What would that accomplish—to frantically “find” one’s life, even to gain the whole world, only to discover in the end that it was an empty purpose?

Everyone has days when life’s purpose seems cloudy and out of focus. On those days, don’t worry—nothing has changed (Heb. 13:8). It will help to take some time to simply reflect on your life in light of God’s. Your purpose remains clear: to glorify him by trusting him and to enjoy him forever—starting today!

God’s Promise to You: “The purest of joys is finding your purpose in me alone.”

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