Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Reflecting A Broken Image

"Man, made more like God than any creature, has become less like God than any creature". A.W. Tozer.

Why is it that we, as Christians, have developed this present-day tendency of just turning away from our Creator and finding other things to believe in and worship? Some would say that the refusal to believe in the Christian faith in and of itself is a terrible tragedy. But I would argue that the fact that we as believers simply don't reflect God's glory anymore with our lives is just as tragic. Our original purpose for creation by God was to glorify Him and worship Him. That meant with our thoughts, our actions, and every single thing we ever ended up doing: all was supposed to reflect His beautiful glory so that we too would be glorified with Him.

Let's think about this for a second. Where have all our desires gone? What are the areas in our lives we tend to want to gravitate towards in order to fulfill that deep, inner longing for satisfaction and contentment that for some reason we just can't seem to ever find? Where do we feel our true identity is best found? I will never have enough time in the world to list them all and attempt to accurately define and explain them, but I'm going to suggest that the two biggest ones are: 1) Identity through Education and 2) Identity Through Pleasure

Identity Through Education Really try and think about this in your own life. All of us will go throughout our entire lives being taught all the important things of life that we "need to know to make it" or that we "need to know to understand what life really is". I think sometimes we really do forget that one day we're going to die. And all of the amazing bits and pieces of intelligence that we combine in to the education we will receive throughout our lives: it will all be buried with us in the grave. Yet many people will argue that the most supreme purpose of life is to simply gain an education, learn a bunch of stuff, and that self-satisfaction will finally be complete. Let me ask you this: What does that do for you? Is accumulating a bunch of wisdom and reading a ton of books and being the most brilliant scientist really the most comforting and satisfying feeling in the world? I can't tell you how many times I've talked to people who can teach you anything you could ever want to know on any subject, but yet for some reason they're sad and frustrated with their life. Something is missing. So they fill that empty hole with studying and the continuing of education. Here's the truth though: our education we gain will never last forever, but living for God's purposes will. Going to school for years and years and getting a bunch of degrees will not provide you with the type of knowledge that explains your purpose for being here. We must understand that, while having an advanced education is not a bad thing, the greater purpose is cultivating that education and rooting it in the individual plan God has mapped out for you so as to better reflect His glory with your life.

Identity Through Pleasure The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus taught that the chief end of man and the ultimate purpose of man was pleasure; to simply have fun and go after what brought you joy and helped you to have this happy and peaceful life. This philosophy, Epicureanism, runs blind and screaming all throughout our modern-day culture today. We see all these people around us who only want to go out in the world and have a lot of fun; while attempting to find pleasure in everything they come across. What you see is a culture of people that never really make it to that point where they care about why they're here. They don't bother to think about what God's purpose for their life is: they just want to play and have fun. Here's what I'm not saying: it is a terrible thing to want to enjoy life and be happy with the life that you have. But what I am saying is that joys and pleasures eventually pass away, and the fleeting contentment we think they give us can only satisfy us for a period of time. What we're left with is the realization that they still don't define our ultimate purpose for why we're here. And if you think you know what it means to be sad and alone, then imagine making it to the end of your life feeling like you've wasted your life, you never really understood what your purpose was, and now you don't even know why you're here. That is a terrifying realization to live through. In fact I would argue that that would be a true "Hell on Earth" type of feeling for that individual. This is why making strides towards looking to God to help us define our central purpose for existence is so crucial to our lives.

So what am I getting at you might ask? "How do I find out what God's purpose for us is"? The answer is in Scripture, and it's such a beautiful truth:

"Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created". Revelation 4:11

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil”. Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14

These passages teach us that God created everything for His own pleasure. God created man to worship Him, so that His creation could reflect His own glory. The purpose of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. We glorify God by fearing and obeying Him, keeping our eyes on our future home in heaven, and knowing Him intimately. We enjoy God by following His purpose for our lives, which enables us to experience true and lasting joy— the abundant life that He desires for us. God desired to enjoy His creation; to have us want to delight in Him. And you know what? We're not too far from being this same way. Consider this: everything we ourselves create is a reflection of our personality. We want things to look like us, and if they don't we go out into the world and we make them. When a father has a newborn baby, he eagerly examines the baby to make sure it looks like him. We paint pictures, we write stories and poems, we make beautiful music, and we do all these things because we want to create. God is the very same way. He wanted to create mankind to worship Him, to reflect His perfect image and awesome glory, and He wants to spend the rest of eternity enjoying that creation. Guys I know how you feel. Everyone wants to know that they matter. When we're little kids we want approval and praise so that we know we're cared for and loved and that we mean something to someone. As we grow older we search for direction and purpose because we want to have the sense of knowing where we're going in life. We want to know that we're not just a walking body of flesh that drifts silently through life. I'm here to tell you that that longing for something more has been placed into you by God. And at the end of that desire you really will find God Himself. Seek out the nearest Christian you know. Ask them about this desire, about this longing for purpose and meaningfulness. I promise you that they will immediately begin to share with you who God is and what His purpose for all of us is. I don't want to see people running in the dark always being lost everywhere they go. I'm tired of hearing about even people I know crying themselves to sleep at night because they feel like they have everything, and yet they have nothing and can't figure out why they're torn apart inside. So today, as I look out over a human race that is becoming less and less like God with every passing day, I challenge you the reader with this: When you find yourself busy trying to find things to fill that emptiness within you, look to God for the answers. Spend time reading the Bible and actually trying to find out who you're supposed to be. We can’t squelch that primal longing for something more- something “outside the toy box” that calls to us. Do you struggle with feelings of discontent? Do you wonder if life offers more than what you’re experiencing? Listen to that primal urge deep within you. It’s there by design and can only be filled with God. The next time you want to reach out for answers, reach up; after all He's waiting for you to. :)

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