The Purpose of Life: Essays On The Complexity Of The Simplicity Of It All
Purpose: As Seen Through the Eyes of a Child
When I was a young boy, I attempted to grow up fast; now, as a young adult, I feel like more of a child than I ever have. Not in the way of immaturity, trouble-making, or ignorance; but in simplicity (which you may want to argue in point after you have read this essay, but I beg to differ….) – simplicity, faith, and love.
Simplicity: Life is very simple, we exist to live out the purpose that, true enough, is best stated by my church’s mission statement: “To know and love God, and to make His love known to others.”
It is that very simple statement that I find myself having to rediscover over and over. The more we “grow-up” the more we tend to complicate things when all it comes down to is a question of trust. (Faith. Hope. Love.) No more amazing have I found this than in my studies with my church’s small group in the fall of 2007: the more we studied the Basics, the more interconnected the differences (of the basics) where. I learned that as the definitions of these characteristics of faith were different, in practice, they were one and the same. As the body has many parts but is yet only one body, or as a rubix cube has many “boxes”, but yet is still only one rubix cube. And that is a more fitting analogy, for the rubix cube has a tangible purpose – to get all the sides to match in one color. There is a wrong answer, though the boxes are all still there. If it is not ordered correctly, or in the right place, then it is wrong. Trust: trusting God and being trustworthy, Faithfulness, Love, Discipline, Prayer, the Law, Perseverance, Joy, Grace, Peace; These, which may seem ambiguous, disconnected, and quite intangible are what I rediscovered that semester. And I am bound to be needing a reminder here of that pretty soon, for thus is how easy it is for us to complicate things.
But, in reality, in all those things we studied that semester, we really only studied one singular thing throughout it – Love. True love, God’s love – love, mind you, not by ours or societies definitions, but God’s definition – the Infinite Being’s definition – the Creator’s definition – Love as it was intended to be known, not this fake love called Lust that is so prevalent in our society, but the unspeakable absolute Love. Oy, how we have complicated things. It is thus simple; in the true simplicity of the Gospel message – God created us with a purpose: to love and worship Him. Period. (Obedience comes out of our Love for Him, not self-righteousness) We are not perfect – or the political incorrection – We are a mess! We are complete failures. Period. No way around it.
This is where I wish I wasn’t a kid at heart, because I love my parents so much that when I disappoint them, I disappoint myself more. It is painful. As if I cut my own hand off and I know it was purposeful, but I can’t figure out why I did it. It’s that unmarked red button on the instrument panel: Why, oh why did I have to press the red button? Answer? Unfortunately, I can only find one – only one selfish self-centered idiotic reason – I wanted to. But I didn’t. So why? If I don’t want to disobey my parents, then why do I do it? Because Humans, contrary to modern belief, inherently have a sinful nature. And it is because I want to fulfill this sinful nature within Man, within me, this carnal desire, because of this, I wanted to. But I don’t! I love my parents. I want to obey them. I don’t want to disappoint them. But I did because I do, and I live in this paradox. And I HATE IT!........ How much more so when I disappoint my God in whom I love with such abandon.
Oy, how we have complicated things. It is my selfishness that keeps me from doing what I want to do – keeps me from obeying and living my life for my God – but I want to obey God, but I don’t. I want to, but I don’t want to. I don’t know what I want to do. But I do. I really do, I just can’t follow through. It is as Paul says, “We know that the law is spiritual” (or, you could think of it this way - the law is founded on moral laws, which must derive itself from God) “but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do……I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:14-20) It’s because I am selfish – because I have a sinful nature. I’m imperfect, but that’s just an excuse when there is none. I have sinned. Period.
But my intentions where ever they were when I committed myself to action, were of good intentions. At least, I believe so…. does that mean I am okay? - - - If I had cut off my hand, which it feels like many times when I disobey (which is a more understandable definition of sin) my parents, or my God; although I may have had good intentions, generally; I still cut my hand off, and despite my intentions, I still have to deal with the consequences… I cut off my hand! No matter of wishful thinking or good intentions can take back that fact, nor will it take the pain away or give me my hand back. What I need is a Physician……. - - - Oy, how we have complicated things!
I like that phrase, Oy Ve! because it’s the closest word that represents the feeling I’m trying to portray. It brings to mind the forehead slap, “I am such a dunce!” mentality that sums it up near perfect. Oy, how we have missed it! God has created us to love and serve Him. How we have failed in every way to do so. And I know, I can’t blame it on Him for making such a creature. It is His gift of free choice that I was stupid enough to abuse. It was my doing, and I cannot blame anyone else and I cannot hide behind my intentions or anything else. I have failed. Nothing more to it. There is no excuse. Just pure unadulterated disobedience. What am I to do?
It took me a while to realize it, but once I realized it, it laid me flat as if I had collided with an oncoming train: There Is NO Hope in My strength. I am hopeless, helpless, pitiful and despairingly weak. So I have completely failed in the purpose God has given me, there is no hope for Me to upholster myself up again. All alone, I am stuck and sinking beyond all the strength I could ever muster. Without purpose and strength to save myself from……myself.
Is there no hope at all? Not in me, but as I said before…..Life is simple…. the problem we run into is us. We have made it complex. Remember what I said about God’s love? Well God Is Love, and more so than you could imagine. Life is simple. Life is all about love. No, He will not simply forgive you for failing, for God’s love is a Just love. And without unbiased, unadulterated enforcement of the Law, which we have broken, there could be no right or wrong, love or hate, joy or sadness. And although a life with no wrong, hate, or sadness would be an amazing world to live in, I would not sacrifice goodness, love, or joy for it. Not in a million years. And that is where the Gospel comes in.
God cannot simply “forget” our sins, but He loves us so….It is beyond my belief what He did for us. Let me tell you. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, (Don’t ask me exactly how it works, all I know is that Jesus WAS [is and is to come] fully God and fully man and that He did it! God sent His only Son) to earth, lived a perfect life, being tempted as I was to fulfill my own carnal desires, but he overcame them. He was blameless! Not only so, as if that weren’t enough, he also showed us the most excellent way, he showed us how to love. For goodness sake, he lived out a life of love as an example for us! He performed countless amazing miracles and preached Truth to the people, truly caring for the people. Despite, or more on account for all of that, he then was tried in a court of law on pent-up charges and falsifications – purposeful and known – and yet he consciously gave his life for us. He died on the cross as an innocent man, for us.
In the Old Testament, the law of the Israelites said that the punishment of sin is death, but as a substitute, an animal sacrifice would literally Take The Place of the death penalty. In sense, instead of their blood being spilt for their sins, it was an animal; an unblemished animal. And the Israelites had to do this frequently: grain offerings, guilt offerings, sin offerings, even offerings for unintentional sins! That is what we call the Old covenant. When Christ Jesus came and died on the cross, he fulfilled the law. Completely. Where we completely failed, He succeeded. Completely. As the law demands a life as punishment of sin, and no one but an unblemished (perfect) life could possibly fulfill this, Christ, who lived a perfect life, came and willingly gave his life up.
Why? So that through his sacrifice, we may believe and be forgiven our sins. Forgiven, not because God “forgot” them, but because they have already been paid for. “For by grace you have been saved through faith….”(Ephesians 2:8-9). This is the simplicity of life. God created us with a purpose to love and serve. We failed and deserve punishment. Christ took our punishment upon himself and died for us, then three days later rose, defeating death. He has become our sacrifice and now we can continue in God’s will to fulfill our purpose; not though our strength, but through Christ.
And by this I live my life: The faith in the Grace that saves me, the Simplicity in which Is the Gospel story, and in Love. Love: Jesus Christ’s firm and most important command. “By this they will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35) And by this, when all is simplified to the most simplest form, “These three remain: Faith, Hope, and Love, but the greatest of these is Love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) Why? Because my faith will soon become fact, my hope will then be realized, and all that be left….is Love.
So now, being able to put aside the destructive complexity of what I have tried, failed, thought or have done in my weak sinful past, my burden is lifted, leaving only what was originally meant to be – the simplicity and joy of my purpose in existence: “To know and love God, and to make His love known to others.”