Since my girls were very small, I’ve always said prayers with them at night. They are of the age now when they can say their own prayers with me, and it is often very cute. Many times they pray for dogs by name, horses by name, and all sorts of things we might deem silly. I love to listen to them pray. Often they pray to have a good day, or to just have fun the next day. But my daughter is 8 now, and I asked her last night, “What is the real reason we are here on this earth? Is it to have fun?” She said in her 8-year-old words: “To learn about God.” And I thought it was a good answer, but I added to “enjoy Him.”
You see the Westminister Catechism, which has become influential for most evangelicals says that the chief end of man is to “Glorify God, and enjoy Him forever.” The pursuit of materialism doesn’t bring lasting joy, because the more we have the more we are responsible for. The stuff begins to own us, instead of us owning it. The pursuit of love doesn’t bring lasting joy, because people are selfish. Even when we find someone we love, sometimes we end up treating them with contempt. The pursuit of pleasure is also an interesting one. It always leaves us thinking: “that was fun, what’s next?” You see the meaning of life is deeper than materialism, personal affection, and temporal pleasures.
Yet the reason for our existence is missed when God, and the foundation He has laid in His Son is thought so little of. I was speaking with a man yesterday who told me, honestly, that the “church thing” was boring. At least he was truthful about the way he really felt. When you are searching for pleasure in different ways, but avoiding Christ you may find that your taste buds for church aren’t what you would call “tasty.” But the emptiness inside the human soul, the eternity that lies within each of our hearts screams out at us at funerals, beside the beds of dying loved ones, and anytime we are made to think within ourselves: life is more than food, more than work, more than this temporary existence, more than pleasure, and more than money. Life truly is fulfilled in God. We may have to retrain our taste buds, but there is no one who gives the heart more joy than Jesus.
When our joy is in Him, then our pleasures are fuller, our stuff doesn’t own us, and our loved ones are truly loved (because our capacity to love is provided by the new nature He gives us). The Joy of the Lord becomes our strength in times of trial, in times of depression, in times of hurting, and throughout our lives. What is the chief end (or purpose) of mankind? Where can we find true and lasting satisfaction? For those of us who have made up our minds like the disciple Peter who said to our Lord: “Where can we go, you have the words of life.” He is enough. In Him there is a fullness of joy.
But sin has masked our true longing, and only when we are humbled, and realize our own sinfulness can we begin to feel again like we should. The feeling of needing God to forgive us, to cleanse us, and to fill us becomes our realized need. Our joy is in His acceptance of us, and in His relationship with us.
Why are you here? You are here to enjoy God, and you are wrong if you think He is boring. He is closer than a brother to the heart that calls upon him in humility. Your joy will never be full without Him.
Pastor Brian Taylor began his ministry as a young man on the foreign mission field of Togo, West Africa serving with the International Mission Board of the SBC. He spent almost a decade serving as a Music and Youth Minister in the panhandle of Texas. For the last 14 months he has served Forest Avenue Baptist Church as their full-time pastor. He has a love for missions, desires to see the south-side of Sherman reach for Jesus, and is madly in love with his wife Sarah of 12 years. He has 4 beautiful daughters.