This post is part of a series of advice column-style blogs entitled “Asking for a Friend.” For more information on the series and to submit your own questions, click here!
By Danielle Jimmie
I literally laughed out when I first read this was my assigned blog post topic. My laughter was then followed by a good ol’ shoulder shrug and a somewhat exasperated “Are you for real, God?” But God really does have quite the sense of humor, doesn’t he? I’ve probably asked God this question hundreds of times in the last 10 years and I will keep asking him for the rest of my life, possibly everyday. Truthfully, I’ve never really gotten the straight answer for which I was looking, but I’ve gotten something a bit better than a step-by-step plan.
Now that we’ve established that I’m possibly in the same boat as you and pretty unsure what on earth on I’m doing, let’s get to it. This might be the broadest question every human being asks themselves. So let’s break this down into a few more questions , make it a bit more manageable, and get to the root of it.
Why did God create us? Again, a huge question that scholars have written books on, but we’re going to be brief here, because in the end its pretty simple. It says in Isaiah 43:7 “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I have created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” The Hebrew word here for glory is kabowd, which translates to glory, honor, splendor & abundance. It’s often used figuratively to convey a weight and heaviness in a positive sense (thank you Blue Letter Bible App… I am not a language scholar). From this definition here we can see that God created each of us intentionally and purposefully to bring him glory, and honor and splendor in our lives. We can simplify this even more by defining glory, the English word, to mean praise & worship (thank you dictionary.com).
What does God tell us we should do? To answer this simply, without listing out all the commandments found in the Old Testament, let’s skip ahead to Matthew 22 where the Pharisees are asking Jesus what the most important commandment is. In verses 37 – 40 we see his answer: “Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.’” Here we clearly see Jesus summarizing all of the commandments into two simpler commands – love God with everything we have and love our neighbors.
Okay, so far we know you were purposefully created to bring God glory (praise & worship) and that he commands you to love Him with all your heart, soul and mind. So simply put God wants you to praise him and love him. I could stop there, leaving you to sort out the rest of what that looks like in your life, but there is a little bit more digging we can do beyond our Sunday school answer of “Love Jesus!” Now we ask, how do we do that?
One of the best ways to learn is to glean from those who have gone before us, so let’s start by taking a look at the Israelites. The Israelites are the people group God specifically created to bring him glory and to love him, just like us. God, out of his mercy, gave the Israelites many commandments to follow, (i.e. Exodus 20, the entire book of Leviticus, etc.) that served the purpose of showing them how to live according to their purpose, which was, as we already established, to bring God praise and to love God. Leviticus chapter 7:3 – 13 promises blessing, namely God’s presence, when the commandments are obeyed. Verses 11 & 12 specifically say “I will live among you, and I will not despise you. I will walk among you; I will be your God and you will be my people.” And as we noted previously, Jesus says all the commandments were based on loving God and loving others. We see here that obedience to God leads us to relationship with God, giving us the ground to fulfill our purpose of praising & loving him.
It is important to emphasize the heart and intention behind the obedience. God is not interested in an obedience that lacks loves & genuine praise. In Hosea 8:13 he says “the people of Israel love their rituals of sacrifice, but to me their sacrifices are meaningless…” In verse 14 He goes on to say that Israel has all about forgotten God, further showing that though it may appear that the
Israelites are obeying him and bringing him praise, their lack of relationship and true love render their acts meaningless. Obedience, relationship, praise and love are all what God created us to do with our lives and are all interdependent on one another, each meaningless without the other.
Unfortunately, I cannot tell you exactly what a life of obedience & relationship with God looks like for you. Do I even know what that will look like for me 5 years from now? Not entirely. Which is why our relationship with God must be constant and dependent and our obedience to His commands and leading must be born from a genuine love. This is vital for discovering what God has for you in the everyday of life. And though that may be scary to forego your nice and organized life plan, the beauty of God and the fullness of relationship with him when surrendered in obedience is worth it all.
And for a bit of semi-practical advice, Jesus gives us a little insight to what living out our purpose of praising and loving God through relationship and obedience can look like. Let’s take a look at that the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-13. In the story a Master gives his servants various amounts of silver and then goes away for some time. A few of the servants go out and use their Master’s silver, investing it and multiplying, knowing this will useful to their Master and will help greatly. One of the servants buries his silver in the ground for safe keeping. Upon the Master’s return he is displeased that one of the servants did nothing with his gift, whereas he says to the servants who invested and multiplied their gifts “well done, my good and faithful servants.”
Through this parable Jesus instructs us to steward and multiply the gifts God has given us, which is a good indicator of what God wants us to do with the gifts he has given us. But these gifts he gave us where not used for our own selfish purposes, He has given us talents, gifts and resources to use for his kingdom, for multiplying what he creates.
So here we are at the end of this blog post, without any real answer or plan for our lives. What we do have, though, is the direction of bringing praise to a God who is worthy and returning the love God has given us back to him, by means of obedience and relationship with him. And through this, we have the responsibility to see what gifts God has purposefully put in our hands and to invest and multiply them in order to build his Kingdom on this earth. At the end of the day, all of this we cannot do without being in loving relationship with him and doing things that bring him glory and honor. Good luck on the journey!