I arrive late and the conversation is already underway between the five or six other group members who managed to make it on time. They quickly shift to rearrange themselves, making room for me in the mangled circle — one circle among many. This night groups are sprawled among the wooden pews to conduct the church’s first-ever book club. I receive warm grins and understanding nods. My group consists of the former pastor and his wife, a new couple and another man to discuss the first week’s reading of Rick Warren’s book “The Purpose Driven Life.”
The conversation goes well. We agree on the big things, yet still see things through our unique perspectives. It is during this conversation that things gel for me on one topic: the purpose of life. Something everyone has thought of at least once in their life, right? I listen intently at first, but then hurl my thoughts into the air as they come, trying not to overwhelm the group with my rambling and desire to communicate every single thought in my head. I stop. Wait politely for others to speak. Okay, my turn. Again.
The invention conundrum
I summarize Warren’s take on “self-help” books. Realize your dreams. Gather your circle of support. Do whatever it takes to succeed. “Self-help” books are all about the same. They are not immoral. But, they don’t address the true purpose of life, merely how to succeed. Purpose. Success. They are not the same thing. Warren puts it this way. “You could reach all your personal goals, becoming a raving success by the world’s standard, and still miss the purposes for which God created you”. I get it. In double portion.
Non-believers would say we are here by chance so we cannot know our purpose. Or, worse, we have no purpose. Rick Warren (and logic) beg to differ. He says:
“If I handed you an invention you had never seen before, you wouldn’t know its purpose, and the invention itself wouldn’t be able to tell you either. Only the creator or the owner’s manual could reveal its purpose.”
One true purpose
The Bible discusses the purpose of all creation. Romans 11:36 says, “Everything comes from God alone. Everything lives by His power, and everything is for His glory” (LB).
So, what is our purpose? Brace yourself. Ready for it? Life is not about us. We exist to glorify (or exalt) God. The fact is, we are hardwired to exalt someone or something. If we don’t exalt God, we naturally put something else in His place. Some exalt success in their job. For others it is happiness or children. People waste so much time figuring out their purpose. What if Christian parents taught children their purpose early on?
A simple truth
Our purpose in life is to simply exalt the Creator? Really? Okay, it’s a bit more complicated than that. But it is safe to assume that everything we do should exalt Him for all to see. This is simple truth parents can teach children when they are still young. As I have taught my children this truth, their natural curiosity kicks in, as mine once did. “Is God selfish?” I’m glad they said it, because
I was thinking it. I cannot pretend to know the mind of God. But I do know myself pretty well. When left to my own devices, I lead a self-centered existence, always seeking my own happiness, even at the expense of others.
Think about it. When we consider major decisions, we ask questions that revolve around us. What’s best for me? Right? It’s become the way of Western culture. I don’t know if God, knowing our propensity for selfishness, specifically gave us the purpose of exalting Him. But, it sure counters our own inclination of serving ourselves.
Read, talk and model
Teach your children the purpose for which they were created at a young age. There are many ways to exalt God. Read verses together that talk about this. Talk about it, and don’t let it become just a Sunday topic, either. Weave it into everyday conversations. At the dinner table, talk about how each family member’s actions did or did not exalt God that day. Celebrate with them when they are victorious and encourage them when they are not. Most importantly, exalt God in everything you do because they will notice. Until next week, be well and be intentional about discipling your children. It will pay off.
Contact Cheyenne Belew at email@example.com.