Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What is the chief end of man?

What is the chief end of man?
     The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
- Westminster Shorter Catechism
The question posed by the Westminster Shorter Catechism.  It's the one that everyone knows and remembers, yet the one that is the hardest to put into practice. At least I think it is for me. It is simple to understand, yet hard to grasp. Why is that? I believe it's because we have the wrong mindset when it comes to this idea.

The way that this question and answer is worded, it seems to imply that we need to glorify God, and we also need to enjoy Him, as if they were two different tasks. When I was younger and I heard this creed, I just memorized it and assumed that I needed to be giving God glory one day and I needed to enjoy Him another. But as I grew older I knew that couldn't be the case because God seemed to want me to rejoice in Him always. Then I came across a book called "Desiring God" by Dr. John Piper. He said it like this:
...[t]he old theologians didn't think they were talking about two things. They say "chief end." not "chief ends." Glorifying God and enjoying Him were one end in their minds, not two. How can that be? ...What does God have to say about the chief end of man? How does God teach us to give Him glory? Does He command us to enjoy Him? If so, how does this quest for joy in God relate to everything else?...The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever."
In this creed, there seems to be a misunderstanding of what our primary purpose is. Our primary purpose is to glorify God in all that we do, by enjoying Him in all that we do. I pray that we may be able to enjoy God in all that we do so that we may glorify Him.

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all the glory of God." - 1 Corinthians 10:31

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