Blog - Grasping Vocation
Why Are We Here?Monday, March 02, 2015
On hold in a doctor’s waiting room? Stuck at the airport in a snowstorm? Try googling on the words, "Why are we here on earth?” The variety of answers will fill hours. One example: "I myself don’t no. God alone nose.” Obviously, that person does not think we’re here to learn how to write English.
Responses from some Christians seem not to deal with the question—like this one: "When you boil life down to its essence, you will find that we are here to go to heaven.” But saying where we are going in the future does not explain why we are here on earth now.
Our "chief end,” says the Westminster Shorter Catechism, "is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” That’s true. But how, in our day-to-day lives, do we glorify God? Or, to return to the original question: Why are we here on earth?
Two of Jesus’ apostles connect glorifying God here on earth with our good works: "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds [works] and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). And, "Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds [works] and glorify God on the day he visits us” (I Pet. 2:12).
Has the truth of our being made right with God through faith in Christ led us to shy away from the term "good works”? Clearly we are not saved from our sin or our sins by good works. But just as clearly we are saved for good works. In fact, Paul says just this in Eph. 2:10: "For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Going to heaven when we die is a priceless inheritance, but in this verse Paul does not say that’s why God worked to create us in Christ. Sharing the gospel with others is a privilege and responsibility, but neither is that why God re-created us in Christ. Rather, Paul tells us, God made us new creations in Christ to do good works.
Further, these good works were not just post-sin afterthoughts. God actually pre-planned them and put them on our to-do list while we are here on earth. But what are those good works? How can we devote ourselves to doing them if we have no idea what they might be? Is it even possible for us to know what they are?
I believe we find the best clues to the identity of those good works in the days when God’s will was done perfectly on earth as it is in heaven. When was that? During the period described in Genesis 1 and 2—the time before sin turned good works into bad.
In the next blogs, I hope to explore three good works God assigned to Adam and Eve in his original creation. When in Christ God made us his new creations, it makes sense that we should take those same good works up again. Stay tuned . . .