Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Purpose of God in Man

The Westminster Shorter Catechism, a Christian document from the 1600s, asked the question: “What is the chief end of man?”  The reply: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”  It is a concise answer, and in my opinion, an excellent one.  But I must admit, it is an unsatisfactory answer to many, and it also was to me for much of my Christian walk.

I now know the reason why.  Lack of maturity!  How can a child understand marital bliss?  How can a teenager know seasoned love?  It is like what C. S. Lewis said, “We are…like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.”

I believe the purpose of God in man, before Jesus Christ showed us the final manifestation of it, was first shown to us in the life of Abraham.  God called to Abram out of “Ur of the Chaldeans,” out of the dusky light of deception.  “Ur” means light/flame; “Chaldeans” were magicians practicing deceptive arts; God said come out of there in a similar way He told Lazarus to come out of the tomb years later.  In other words, come out of the center of yourself, come away from the gravitational force of your own natural person, out of selfish considerations, out from the force of that inner pull to make everything orbit around one’s self.  A baby is born self-absorbed, and he is not strong enough to push off his center out into places where he can see other perspectives; in fact, he hardly knows his own perspective.  But a day comes, and an age of responsibility begins; from there, infancy gives way to childhood, and childhood gives way to adolescence, and adolescence to manhood.  And just when he starts to fill out his frame, God comes and requires his soul!

Again, looking at Abraham, we see the process.  He’s born and is a baby in Ur; his natural flame of light is lit and inherently placed beneath a peck-measure.  He matures into his natural man in Ur, marries his wife Sarai there, and would have, no doubt, if God had not called him away from there, lived and died there.  To be born-again, is to be birthed out of Ur and into Haran (a dry place); but even then, many die there; Abram’s father and brother did.

Our destiny is the Promised Land; Haran, the wilderness between our natural and supernatural life.  Being born-again is only the beginning or starting line of the race which ends in that city whose architect and builder is God.  It is a city occupied only by those who endure to the end, to those who finish the race.

“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your COUNTRY, and from your RELATIVES, and from your FATHER’S HOUSE, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.  And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed’” (Genesis 12:1-3).

We start out as Abram (exalted father; a monument exclusive to ourselves), and are instructed to leave our national pride (country), our ethnicity as a guiding rule (relatives), and our immediate family’s hold or rule over us (our father’s house), to a place (a Promised Land flowing with milk [spiritual nourishment] and honey [spiritual revelation or enlightenment]) that shall be shown to us as we move out in obedient faith.

As we obey, we mature into our Promised Land, and we become Abraham (a father of multitudes; a reproducer of Christ in others).  Only as we mature out from Ur (natural enlightenment) and Haran (a dry and hot place, the wilderness; only the rebellious DWELL [and thus die] there) into the Promised Land of spiritual fertility (having something truly to give others) is the purpose of God in man realized.  Worship is not music per se, but a death in us and life in others phenomena.  God’s purpose in man is what God’s purpose in Christ was and is: to glorify the Father in the Son, and to bring many sons to glory.