The Chief End of Man

Why do you and I exist? A Google search for the phrase “Why do I exist,” produces 11.8 million hits. Amazon has 24 books with the title “Why Do I Exist.” There is no shortage of resources on finding purpose and meaning in life. As humans, we have a fascination with finding ultimate purpose in life. Since we are created in God’s image, He has hard-wired us to try to answer this ultimate question of why we are here on planet earth. The comprehensive and Biblical answer to that question is summed up in the famous line from the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” This statement is not the answer you will hear from the world. The world says that life’s meaning is wrapped up in self-centered pursuits of pleasure. The world’s mantra is this: “The chief end of man is to worship myself and enjoy as much selfish pleasure in the here and now as I possibly can!”

Think of all the commercials that you see in a given week. They try to sell you the message that YOU are the most important thing in this world. They sell you the American dream that since you’re the center of the universe, you deserve to have whatever it is they are selling. Even within the church we are often coddled into thinking that we exist for our own glory and not for God’s. We often think God is a genie in a bottle that exists for our comfort.

Isaiah 43:6-7 reads, “…bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Why has the sovereign God of the universe created us? Was He lonely up in heaven and needed companionship? Absolutely not! We must never think of God as needful of anything. He is the self-existent powerful God who created all things. He formed and made us as His children so that we would display His glory back to Him in joyful worship. Isaiah 42:8 says,I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.”

This word for “glory” in the Old Testament Hebrew (kabod) literally means “weight” or “to be heavy.” In summary it means that as His creation, we should view God as weighty and worthy of honor. The glory of God comprises His splendor, majesty, weightiness, holiness, and power that are intrinsic to His nature. He is absolutely glorious.

Psalm 29:2 reads, “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.” What does it mean to “ascribe” glory to God? Do we add to His glory? Do we somehow make Him more glorious than He already is? Absolutely not! To ascribe glory means to give Him what He alone deserves. We don’t add a measure to His glory, but we reflect back to Him the glory that He inherently has. He is worthy. He is majestic. He is powerful and glorious, and as a result, we are called to live such a life that would put on full display this glory of God to a watching world. This is ultimately why you and I exist! We exist to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!

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