Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Meaning of Life

I often wonder what life is really all about.  I wonder why God created this world, why he created me.  Is it all just a big show for his benefit?  Is life about receiving a reward, now or in the afterlife?  If I’m happy (blessed, peaceful, joyful, fulfilled, etc.), is that really enough?  If I make other people happy, is that enough?  If I make God happy, is that enough?  Enough for what?

Someone asked Jesus “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29).  That’s it?  Believe?  Surely there is more to the Christian life than merely believing. 

Aren’t we supposed to love our neighbors, feed the poor, share the gospel, worship God, take care of orphans, stay pure, turn the other cheek, etc., etc.?  Isn’t that what it means to do the works God requires?  Doesn’t Jesus call us to obey?

Faith fuels my obedience.  That’s how I’ve always seen it.  When I believe, I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  With faith we can move mountains.  We will do greater works than Jesus.  We will bear much fruit.  Obedience is the goal, and faith makes it happen.

I’m  beginning to see it differently now.  Maybe my obedience actually fuels my faith.  My faith grows and deepens when I obey.  I understand God better, I trust him more, and I become more like Jesus.  God made me in his own image, and by faith (alone) is that image restored.  My obedience serves as a catalyst for my increasing faith.

I remind myself that God wants more than my productivity.  God wants my heart.  The real work of God, Jesus said, is to believe in him, not to work for him.  All the works in the world won’t bring my heart to Jesus. 

Faith leads me to obey, and obedience increases my faith.  With greater faith, I live in bolder obedience.  The faith, obedience snowball grows and grows.  As it rolls, God draws me deeper and deeper into himself.  All of my “achievements” are mere byproducts in his process of making me holy.

But I misunderstand God’s process.  Too often, my accomplishments just make me feel more worthy before God.  I get proud of myself, believing somehow that I measure up.  Only the work of Jesus Christ makes me worthy before God.  Jesus died for my sins, and rose from the dead to bring me life.  The work of God is to believe in him.  Obedience fuels my faith.

I want to live for an audience of One.  And this Audience is deeply in love with me.  He longs for more intimate fellowship with me.  Sure, he wants my obedience, but only because it brings me closer to him.