The Chief End of Man (2)
We have set out to explore “man’s chief end.” We’ve been told that the starting point is that man is made “to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” It all sounds so simple and clean. The only thing is that, when you get right down there with the people it gets really messy. That is, though God made them to glorify and enjoy Him forever, they tended to make a hash of that holy intention. The miracle that only God can accomplish is to find a way by which they end up fulfilling His plan in spite of their frailties and failures. It’s an amazing story to watch unfold.
Is it any different for us? Are our lives any less confused, any less at odds with God’s holy intention without His intervention? For myself the answer is clear – there is no difference whatsoever.
There are differences, though. When we read the story of Abraham and Sarah we are engaging with human beings as they existed approximately 4,000 years ago. And so we meet people who have not had the benefits and the baggage of that ensuing history.
With regard to the benefits, the one that shines so brightly that all others almost vanish is the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To know Him is to have access to the infinite opportunity for good as experienced through holy love. To know Him is to find an impossible forgiveness that makes everything possible, everything new. Though far too many who happily benefit from Western Civilization’s incredible freedom and protections of individual life don’t realize it, virtually all of this good flows from the sanctifying power of Jesus Christ. Apart from Christ they are withdrawing from an account into which they are powerless to deposit.
With regard to the baggage, we in Western Civilization have become a people virtually striped of our ability to comprehend the transcendent. Though we acknowledge the existence of spiritual realms and powers in our theology, our lives are tied down to this earth by a thousand threads of preoccupation, possession and philosophy. We have become aware of so much that is evil, much of which done in the name of “religion” that we almost fear our own faith. We have become so confused about moral standards, about even the possibility of absolutes that we dare not speak openly of a LORD God of absolute love, justice and holiness. We certainly don’t expect to meet this LORD God in encounters so intimate that we will later speak as if He had physical form.
Abraham and Sarah had no such benefits or baggage. They had only their lives, given as a gracious gift by the Triune God, souls wrapped in flesh, their wills intersecting with this God’s sovereign will that they would indeed glorify and enjoy Him forever.