When God created the human race, the first thing that He did was to give us a purpose in life.
He said in effect, “I created this world you live on, and I want you to oversee it.” Since there are nearly 410,000 species of plants in the world, He placed Adam in a garden and directed him to begin there, in that smaller arena, tending it and keeping it. In this way, God began to teach Adam and Eve about botany.
And by giving Adam the command to name all of the animals, God helped Adam and Eve to begin to oversee the world by teaching them about zoology as well as botany. In fact, the naming of the animals was a brilliant way to begin to help them to begin to observe and understand the world of living things that they were to oversee. Today we call that “naming of animals” by the scientific name, taxonomy.
The purpose that God gave to the human race is still on-going.
We are still “naming the animals!” In fact, we have identified and named nearly 1.4 million species, but new species are being discovered and named all the time!
But God meant more than just “study botany and zoology.”
Our purpose in life is to understand and to fulfill His deep purposes in creating us and this world we live on.
We are to explore and to understand and to oversee all that is within our grasp. And as part of that, we are to explore and understand the most complicated and sophisticated of all His creations here on this earth … humans! And so part of our responsibility is to understand what He has to teach us about family life and social life and the spiritual life and the realms of politics, culture, finance, psychology, science, the arts … the list is endless!
But we are not just to explore those topics, we are to contribute to the work of overseeing creation on God’s behalf. God did not create us because He felt like making a giant terrarium called earth and needed someone to keep it running. God needs no help at anything! Instead …
God gave us a purpose in life because that was the best way to develop us into the kind of people that He ultimately wants us to be in eternity!
And that is precisely why our enemy does everything in his power to thwart our purpose in life. If God is using the great purpose that He gave us in this life to fashion us into His beloved people who will live with Him for all eternity, then Satan knows that in order to oppose the God that he hates, he must try to wreck God’s plan for us by twisting or destroying our purpose in life.
Since Satan succeeded in separating the people that God created from the God who created them, our purpose has expanded to restoring the relationship between people and their God.
Just as God created the world (which we could never have done) and then gave us a partnering role in overseeing it, God sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins (which we could never have done), and then gave us a partnering role in overseeing the expansion of the gospel, so that our purpose in overseeing the world has expanded to include reconciling people everywhere to Himself.
You and I are to spend our lives learning and fulfilling God’s deep purposes for creating us here on earth, and since the world is now full of people who are separated from God by their sins, everywhere we go and everything we do must include reconciling people to God. This thought is captured beautifully in the Greek wording of Matthew 28:19, where Jesus says literally, “As you are going, make disciples of all the nations.” In other words, I have sent you all over the world to oversee My creation and to fulfill My purposes for creating you and placing you on this world; and wherever that purpose takes you, make disciples of everyone, everywhere, because that too is part of the ultimate fulfillment of My purpose for placing you here on earth.
Since that is true …
You have an individual choice to make.
Will you spend what is left of your life fulfilling no mission, will you spend the rest of your life fulfilling a false mission, or will you spend what is left of your life fulfilling God’s mission?
Let’s look at these three choices one by one.
- No mission. This is how the secular world lives. Since their life has no over-arching mission or purpose, they spend their lives on themselves … in search of what will make them feel good or feel significant. People without a purpose will always turn to their own pleasure. But whatever form that pleasure-seeking takes (whether seeking power for themselves, or drinking to forget their emptiness, or engaging in sexual encounters, or spending their lives trying to get rich), it does not fill that deep longing within us to accomplish the mission for which we were made. So it is a restless life that ends in disappointment.
- False mission. As an example, this is how the Islamic extremists make converts out of godless and purposeless Americans. They play into the God-given longing within all of us to fulfill a mission in life. So people get “radicalized” and join a different mission than God’s mission. The false mission of Islam is not to free the world from sin, but to force the world to submit. In fact, the word “Islam” means submission or surrender. Many people around us have been tricked by the enemy of our souls into a false mission of forcing submission on the world. Those people are not the enemy. They have been hijacked by the enemy. And part of our mission in life is to rescue them from the false mission that they have been tricked into joining.
- God’s mission. The beautiful thing about God’s mission is that it is a “co-mission.” That means that God is a co-laborer with us in fulfilling His mission for our lives. We are not alone when we devote ourselves to fulfilling His mission for us on this earth. He promises to partner with us to accomplish what He has asked of us … to go everywhere He takes us in life, learning about His deep purposes for creating us and this world, and doing our individual parts to fulfill that purpose. And everywhere that journey takes us, an essential part of fulfilling our purpose for living is to make disciples of everyone, everywhere.
You could spend your life in emptiness, pursuing the “no mission” of personal fulfillment and pleasure. You could spend your life on a false mission, which also ends in emptiness and failure to fulfill your purpose for living. Or you could join God in the Great Commission, finding deep and eternal fulfillment in sacrificing your pleasures for a greater cause and, in so doing, preparing yourself for an eternity of joy in God’s presence.