Monday, October 25, 2010

Why Are We Here?

The big question is, “Why are we here?”  Hmmmm…That IS a good question.   Ya know, philosophers, and others, have devoted reams of paper and oceans of ink to answering that question, but is all that really necessary?  I mean, if we’re here because of some cosmic mutation then the answer is easy, “No reason at all, we’re all just accidents.”  Or if, as I believe, we were thoughtfully and lovingly created, then we don’t need to waste paper and ink to figure it out, because God tells us why we’re here.
Or does He?  Rick Warren has written his book, The Purpose Driven Life, and he tells us all that God put us here with a purpose, and he’s sold bunches and bunches of books telling folks how to find out what God’s purpose is.  I know lots of people who have read it; I’ve read parts of it; my kids have read parts of it.  I think we have three copies at home right now.  But does Warren’s book tell us anything we didn’t already know? 
Didn’t God pretty much tell us, through Adam and Eve in Genesis 2, our purpose? 
Have you read Genesis 2 lately?  I had always read it as just an adjunct to chapter 1 and hadn’t thought too much about it on its own.  But I’m not sure, that in many ways it isn’t even more important than the basic creation story.  Chapter 2 tells us, not just who we are, but who we are in relationship to God.
From here it should be easy, right?  Well, maybe I’m slow, but it hasn’t been for me.  I still struggled with finding my purpose.  I think sometime I get confused.  I want God to tell me how to use my talents for Him (specifically and exactly, no guesswork).  But I think “our purpose” is something God wants us to discover for ourselves, with His help.  What He does tell us very clearly, is humanity’s reason for being here.  Genesis 2 tells us that our first reason for living is to worship our Creator by keeping the Sabbath.
Can you imagine that first Sabbath on earth?  Adam and Eve hadn’t even been in the Garden for 24 hours yet; everything is brand new, and God comes to them to spend the Sabbath with them…in person.  I’m not sure I can imagine what that would be like.  How many Sabbaths do you think Adam and Eve and God had together like that before the Fall?  Can you imagine the Sabbaths after the Fall?  I’ll bet they were heartbreaking.  I mean for us, mostly, Sabbath is a nice time to rest after a tough week, socialize with our church friends, and maybe squeeze in a nap before jumping back into the rat-race.  But for Adam and Eve, think of it, they spent a whole day walking and talking and learning from the God of the Universe!  Would anybody want to go home for a nap? I’m looking forward to Sabbath in Heaven, but how will I know how to act if I haven’t practiced here first?
Worshiping isn’t our only purpose though.  God told Adam and Eve to take care of the Garden and the animals.  Did they really need taking care of?  The world was perfect.  There weren’t weeds or plant destroying bugs.  There weren’t going to be any leaves to clean up or branches that fell down, so why did God tell them to work?  Ellen White has this excellent explanation:   “The Lord knew that Adam could not be happy without labor, therefore he gave him the pleasant employment of dressing the garden. And, as he tended the things of beauty and usefulness around him, he could behold the goodness and glory of God in his created works. Adam had themes for contemplation in the works of God in Eden, which was Heaven in miniature. God did not form man merely to contemplate his glorious works, therefore he gave him hands for labor, as well as a mind and heart for contemplation. If the happiness of man consisted in doing nothing, the Creator would not have given Adam his appointed work. In labor, man was to find happiness as well as in meditation. Adam could reflect that he was created in the image of God, to be like him in righteousness and holiness. His mind was capable of continual cultivation, expansion, refinement and noble elevation; for God was his teacher, and angels were his companions.” {RH, February 24, 1874 par. 8}
 God gave us work to be a blessing.  That’s not how we normally think of our jobs is it? Come on, how long would you be happy doing absolutely nothing all day, every day.  Not long for me.  Work makes us happy.  Even in Heaven we will have work to do.
Another of our reasons for being here is to obey the laws of God.  God gave Adam and Eve a rule and Satan tried to get them to break it.  It’s the same for us.  God has given us some rules, and our job is not to break them.  Unfortunately, Satan has other plans.  The universe is watching, and Satan wants God to look like the bad guy, making Him seem arbitrary and vindictive.  When we follow God’s rules out of the love in our hearts, we prove Satan wrong and show the universe the truth about God.
And, finally, God has told us to be involved with other people, in marriage, at work, and in worship.  We aren’t meant to be solitary beings.  Satan can get to us best when we don’t interact with and rely on others.  That’s how Satan got to Eve; he waited to catch her alone and then started in on her.  God is a social God; He put the need for social interaction within us as well.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t be looking forward to spending time with Him in Heaven.  It’s our job to be social.
To worship Him, to work for Him, to obey Him, and to be a part of society – God has given us this purpose.  Is He asking too much?

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