What is the point of Christianity? Is it to find eternal life so that we do not have to go to Hell when we die? Is it to live forever? Is it our peace and comfort? The old catechisms answer the first question, the meaning of life, as this:
“The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”
– Westminster Catechism
This is the first question we ask when considering the meaning of life and faith, namely Christianity. What is the purpose or “chief end” as they used to say. If the fathers of our faith understood Scripture correctly in stating that our purpose is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, how do we do that? Some people would argue that God is most glorified in us by our pleasure in Him. God’s glory is not contingent upon us or our making much of Him, but He is made much of (glorified) when we praise, honor, enjoy, proclaim, love and obey Him.
Starting down this path of glorifying God and enjoying Him begins with new birth: regeneration. We, at one moment in our physical lives, are given Spiritual life. And then begins the life of faith. And it is at this point that we need to develop our tool belts to be able to glorify God. God does not simply sit up in Heaven and say, “Enjoy me however you want”. He does not have unconditional approachability. I am aware that this rubs our American individualism the wrong way. “I am who I am, and Jesus loves me just the way I am”. We assert God’s approval on ourselves and expect everyone else to approve us just because we are people. We no longer have the right to make value statements on actions.
Now, there is a place for preaching unconditional love. We cannot earn or merit God’s forgiveness or love, and the moment that we come to God for salvation we cannot clean ourselves up before coming to Him. We are dead, dirty, wretched, wicked and completely undeserving of His grace and there is no way we can make ourselves presentable unto salvation. However. Once we have been made into new creatures, we have started down a lifelong path of being made more like Christ and obedience. Jesus said,
“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.”
– John 14.23
Life is a season of putting to death the deeds of the flesh and living in obedience to and in the glory of Jesus.
“When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Jesus Himself was so serious about dying to sin that He said,
“If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.”
– Matt 5.29-30
Jesus stated that we will be thrown into Hell as consequence for sin, and if we cannot control our bodies, it is better to cut a part off than to go to Hell! He took sin extremely seriously. Not only that, but He taught that if you are on your way to church (or to pray, or to have a quiet time, or to interact with God) and you remember that someone is angry at you or you have an unresolved issue with someone, you need to go make that right before you try to worship or pray:
“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”
– Matt 5.23-24
The life of faith is dying to sin, dying to the flesh, dying to ourselves and living to Christ. And He enables us to do that. God does not give us salvation to live like hooligans, He expects us to obey and to grow. To make war with our flesh and our sin. Not to earn His salvation, but to love and enjoy Him. So let’s get about enjoying Him by living in the freedom of obedience!