If you are a human being, you want – even need – to have a purpose in life. Everyone wants to know why they are alive and what they are supposed to do. Most people expect that knowing their purpose and pursuing it is the way of happiness.
Many Christian’s are obsessed with Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” This verse is on everything! Shirts, purses, jewelry, notebooks, tattoos, grad caps – it’s probably literally been iced onto at least a hundred cakes. Yet, for some people, this verse is upsetting. They are totally lost and they don’t see why they even exist in the first place. Maybe they once felt purpose, and now they don’t. Some may have never discovered a sense of purpose. A lack of purpose is huge reason people suffer from depression, self-esteem issues, and has undoubtedly contributed to suicides since the dawn of humanity.
So, over the next couple weeks, I want to address the purpose-problem. It starts with understanding why God created people, and therefore, why He created you.
First of all, God doesn’t need you – He wants you.
God is not a human being. He does not have needs like we do. He is absolutely, completely self-sufficient in every way, lacking in nothing. He was not lonely before He created Adam and Eve and He certainly was not any less powerful without them. When He created Adam and Eve it was an act of love, born of sheer will and desire. Our Father never needed Adam and Eve to love Him back – otherwise, He would have made it an uncontrollable part of their being. God’s existence, power, and holiness is in no way effected by whether humans love Him back or not.
However, in spite of His total self-sufficiency, He chose to make us. Isaiah 43:7 says that we are created for God’s glory. We are created by God and for God. He desired to give us life, to love us, to die for us, to save us, and to live with us for all of eternity. Again, not because He needs us in any way, but because He wants us.
I have to drive this point home because a lot of people struggle with feeling unneeded or insignificant, and it probably doesn’t help for me to tell you that God doesn’t need you.
Think about it this way. I need to drink water to live. I don’t have a choice, it’s just the way it is. If I want to exist, I must drink water. I don’t exactly enjoy water that much. I struggle to drink a healthy amount every day, but I will force myself to do so because I know I need to hydrate myself (especially since I live in a desert!). When it comes to a need, it doesn’t matter whether I like it or not. I don’t have to love it. I just have to have it.
Then there is tea. I love tea. I love every kind of tea! It will drink it even if I know it will burn my tongue. I’ll drink it after the ice has melted. I will drink it whether it’s sweetened or not. I love every kind of tea I have ever had in the whole history of my life. So, when I drink tea, I drink it because I enjoy it! It’s special to me. It’s something I look forward to and I will drink it whether I’m thirsty or not just because it tastes good.
So, which matters more to me really? The water I need or the tea I want? Obviously, the tea.
When it comes to people, I strongly believe many bad relationships and friendships are born from need. If we think we need someone for security, financial reasons, emotional stability, or anything else, we have actually demeaned that person. If we say we needthem, we are implying that they are a survival mechanism and not something that we cherish. No human being should ever, ever have to be someone’s survival mechanism. It is unhealthy and it creates codependency.
If we try to say God needs us, we are making God sound codependent on us. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to follow a God that was codependent on me. I want to follow a God that has everything He needs within Himself, but chooses to love me and humbly bend down from Heaven to be in a healthy relationship with me. Wouldn’t it be devastating if the only reason Jesus died was because if He didn’t save us, God would be less of who He is? It would make that a selfish motive, but we know Jesus died in pure selflessness. His motive was completely driven by love and desire. Jesus did not want to suffer, but He wanted to save you. He chose to suffer because His desire for your salvation surpassed his lack of desire for suffering and because He knew it was the only way we could be in relationship with Him like He truly wants.
Secondly, God made us to glorify Him.
Remember Isaiah 43:7 stated that we are created for God’s glory. Isaiah 43:21 also says we are to declare His praise. God made us to worship Him! We are not here for our own glory. We are not here to “make our own meaning” or even to “leave our mark”. Those things will likely happen if we follow God, but that should not be the intent of our hearts. God wants us to worship Him and glorify Him in all that we do and all that we are.
This Biblical fact is also a problem for many of us. I, admittedly, have struggled with it. Sometimes I have thought it selfish of God to create us just to glorify Him! I have wrestled with how we are told not to be prideful, yet our God wants us to boast about Him and bow down before Him. And we are supposed to forget about ourselves and serve Him – and all of that at one point had me downright angry with God. It made me feel unimportant and made me think I was serving a God that was arrogant.
But to think these things is to not see the full picture. We must remember that all of God’s commandments and ways are set in place for our good (Deut. 10:12-13, Jer. 29:11). So how is glorifying God for our benefit? And why would this be part of our purpose in being created?
I mentioned in another post that when we worship God, we are inviting Him into our presence. Now worshiping is not only singing. Worship is every pure act toward God that we do to seek Him. Reading the Bible, attending church, writing, praying, taking care of our bodies, loving other people, helping, serving – you name it. There are tons of ways to worship God, because it is the focus of our hearts that determines worship. So, when we do any true act of worship, we are inviting God to come into our hearts and effect ourselves and our lives.
By seeking God and inviting His presence, we then reap the benefit of His presence. His peace, joy, love, and Spirit surround us. We are suddenly at harmony within even in the middle of chaos. We are suddenly focused on hope and light, instead of problems and darkness. He created us because He wanted us here, He wants to love us, and He wants us to glorify Him in all that we do so that we can be in relationship with Him and receive His blessings! You aren’t going to get blessed, have peace, or feel joy until you learn to worship Him.
The other great benefit is that those who seek to glorify God are also exalted! Psalm 146:8 says, “The Lord raises up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.” When we are bowed down in worship of Him, He will lift us up. This means He will lift our souls internally and He will lift our lives externally. God wants us raise people up who seek His glory so that other people may also be blessed. Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” When we are living out our purpose to glorify God, we are giving God the thumbs up to exalt us so that we can give other people a reason to praise God – and in many cases, come to God for the first time.
This is what my pastor calls the “blessing cycle.” You glorify God, He exalts you. The more you glorify Him, the more you are exalted and the more you want to glorify Him. So, you are living out your purpose, God is blessing you, and God is using you to encourage and bless others. You are in a cycle going from “glory to glory” and it is pleasing to God. God wants to bless you! And He wants you to bless others for His glory so that they might enter the blessing cycle.
Everything God does is for His glory and for our good. Our purpose begins here and expands into individual, specific, God-given routes. We will talk about those next week, but for now, I challenge you to spend time meditating on what it really means to be more than needed, but wanted by the Creator and King of the Universe, and how you can start focusing your heart on bringing Him glory.