Have you ever thought about what the purpose of your life is?
Like, big picture: what’s the reason you’re here? Why do you get up in the morning and do what you do?
When it’s all said and done,
what are you hoping to accomplish?
Unfortunately a lot of us go through life shortsightedly, thinking very little about the overarching purpose of it all. We may have basic life goals, like:
- do well in school
- start a successful career
- find a good person to marry
- save money for retirement
But what’s the big idea? What’s the overarching point?
Why are we here?
Twenty centuries ago, a man named John (a.k.a. John the Baptist) pondered the same question. The son of devout Jewish parents, he grew up with big expectations on him, thanks to a remarkable prophecy from the angel Gabriel. But at some point, John had to make his faith his own. Just like us, he had to decide what he wanted to do with his life.
John chapter 1 tellingly summarizes his life like this:
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. | John 1:6-8
Two important statements in there:
First, John = a witness.
This makes me wonder:
To what or to whom are we witnesses?
We are all witnesses, whether we realize it or not. But what are we witnesses to?—that’s the question. Our favorite sports team or celebrity? The latest food or fashion craze? Some political party or social movement? What comes up in your conversations? What runs through your mind during your free time? What do you promote and get excited about? When people spend time with you, what do you point them toward?
Second, we see in that passage that John ≠ the light.
Which makes me wonder:
Do we recognize we are not the light?
This is such a crucial question. Do we recognize (like John did) that this life is ultimately not about us? That we are not the center of the universe? That we are not here to make much of ourselves?
Here’s how Matt Chandler puts it:
“God’s motivation behind his shepherding you, his provision for you, his love for you, his passion about you—really the motive in all of that isn’t that you’re great, it’s that he’s great. So the motivation is his glory, his name, his renown—and this is what you’re going to see over and over and over again in the Bible.” | Matt Chandler, “God is for God” sermon
To help illustrate that point, think about our solar system. There’s a reason it’s called the solar system and not the earth system, because everything in the solar system revolves around the sun—not the earth. Natural life on earth totally depends on the sun. Without the sun, we’d live (though not for very long) in cold, miserable, unforgiving darkness.
In much the same way, God is the source of all spiritual light in our lives. He is ultimately the source of everything good, everything worthwhile, everything praiseworthy. He—not us—is what it’s really all about. So how foolish of us to believe that the purpose of life is to bring us glory!
For me, and I hope for you too, those three verses about John the Baptist are convicting and inspiring. John A) recognized that he was not the light, and B) resolved to bear witness to the light. In other words, he knew what he was here for.