Raison d’être

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).

“To be or not to be” (Shakespeare, Hamlet)?

What is our purpose? Why do we exist? Or as the French would ask, “What is our raison d’être?” (Our “reason of being, reason for existence, purpose).

One popular approach is to look within ourselves for purpose.

“What do I want? What makes me happy or comfortable?”

Answering these questions, we set as our purpose the acquisition of these things. Therefore, our purpose for living is this: “I have desires and I exist to fulfill those desires.”

We see this view work itself out today when people view their identity through the lens of desire. They allow their appetite for sex or food or pleasure to determine purpose. Many contemporary social movements find their origins in this desire-driven approach to life.

But what if our reason for being is found outside rather than inside ourselves? What if we are creations of a Creator God? And what if He made us for His own purposes?

If God made us for a purpose, then don’t you want to know it?

I believe that God made us for a purpose. I believe that He calls us back to that purpose through His Son, Jesus Christ. When we believe in Him and receive Him as Lord and Savior, God gives our life new purpose.

The first question in the Westminster Catechism (Written in 1647 to teach biblical doctrine.) addresses this important matter. It asks:

     Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?

     A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, [a] and to enjoy him for ever. [b]

[a]. Ps. 86:9; Isa. 60:21; Rom. 11:36; I Cor. 6:20; 10:31; Rev. 4:11
[b]. Ps. 16:5-11; 144:15; Isa. 12:2; Luke 2:10; Phil. 4:4; Rev. 21:3-4

So, the best diagnostic question for purpose-filled living might be this: “Does my life glorify God?”

Or to paraphrase Shakespeare’s words, we all have to decide “to be or not to be” what God wants us to be.

3 Responses to “Raison d’être”

  1. Matt

    Great post Gary. I’ve been asking, “How can I worship God best?” lately. I think we have a tendency to settle for good/fine and unintentionally neglect doing all God calls us to do.

  2. Jonathan

    I love the CS Lewis quote where he says that our desires are not too strong but they are too weak. We are far too easily pleased.

  3. Gary Combs

    Thanks for the great comments, Matt and Jonathan!

    Matt, your comment reminds me of Col. 3:23 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” In other words, attempt great things for God!

    Jonathan, I love that Lewis quote! You’re right to remind us that desires are not necessarily evil, they are fallen (weakened?). Reminds me of Psalm 37:4
    “Delight yourself in the LORD,and he will give you the desires of your heart.” This verse points to a possible restoration of our desires to God’s design.


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