This post is part of a series on Life's Difficult Questions, designed to provide you with concise and scripturally-based answers to difficult questions you are likely to encounter.
Why are we here? Many life circumstances prompt us to ask or return to this question. Maybe you have just experienced the death of a loved one. Maybe you have felt small alongside a vast ocean or a magnificent sunset. You also could have just experienced a difficult season and are looking for answers.
Whether you are experiencing a time of doubt yourself or are looking for tips to answer the questions of a friend or family member, you can be assured that the Bible provides you with answers.
Ultimately, we are here to glorify God. The Westminster Shorter Catechism (a document of theological questions and answers) begins by asking,
“What is the chief end of man?”
The answer that those English and Scottish authors composed was,
“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”
These theologians equated the enjoying God and glorying Him as one end. This implies that God receives glory in our enjoyment of Him, whether that be by living our lives to please Him or in lifting up praises to His name.
Where do we find this purpose of bringing glory to God in the Bible? Let’s start with the doxology that Paul wrote at the end of Romans 11. Paul has just completed an exciting presentation of the gospel, the news that there is salvation through Jesus Christ. He said that Jesus came to bring salvation from sins to the Jew and the gentile.
This forgiveness of sins comes by grace through faith (Romans 10:5-14). As Paul finishes his case, it’s as if he can no longer contain his joy and bursts into song. Here is the hymn that overflowed from his heart:
”O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” Romans 11:33-36 (KJV)
The climax comes in the last section of this glorious song of praise. The key phrase is “all things.” All things are “of Him” and “through Him” and “to Him.” God created everything and all of it exists through His sustaining power.
It is all doing something—all things—all of creation; all plants, grass, and animals; every planet and star; indeed all people were created to bring glory to His name.
Some may ask, “How can I bring glory to the creator of the universe?” Or, “Isn’t God already infinitely glorious? How can I bring glory to him?”
It is true that God does not need man or any of His creation to receive glory, but He graciously ordained that His creation would reflect His glory and praise His name by highlighting who He is and all that He has done (Psalm 96, 1 Chronicles 16:25-29, Psalm 29:1-2, Psalm 86:8-10, John 15:8).
Whatever You Do
Another classic text that highlights our purpose of bringing glory to God comes from the apostle Paul again:
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 (KJV)
Paul taught the Corinthians about idols. He told them how to deal with the issue of food that had been offered to idols. He discussed why sometimes it might be permitted to eat meat offered to idols, and sometimes it isn’t.
The key point was how it affected someone else’s conscience. He wanted the believers to always act in such a way that would bring glory to God. So, if we are eating or drinking, working, driving a truck, or driving a golf ball, we are to do all those things for God’s glory.
How do you bring glory to God through eating or drinking, or any other mundane aspect of life? Paul’s example of considering your brother is just one example. It means that we are thankful for the gifts that God bestows upon us each day (air to breathe, food to eat, clothes to wear and people to love).
It means we conduct ourselves in such a way that people notice the light of Christ in us (Matthew 5:15-16). It means we choose our words carefully (Ephesians 4:29, James 1:19, Ephesians 5:4, Proverbs 15:1). And the examples go on and on.
God’s Glory in Salvation
Lastly, let’s consider God bringing glory to Himself through the salvation of humanity. In Ephesians 1, Paul again instructs his readers on God being glorified, this time by his name being praised. First, we have Ephesians 1:5-6:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
Here we see that God chose us to be adopted into His family. Why? So that He would receive glory! Ultimately, that is the reason why God does anything. His plan was to save His children so that we would praise Him, and He would receive glory from us.
We see this again just a few verses later in Ephesians 1:11-12:
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
This is similar to the previous verses. Paul tells us that we have a glorious inheritance in Christ Jesus. The reason for this inheritance? God’s glory! He chose us, adopted us, and gave us an inheritance—not because of how great or lovable we are—but so that God will be glorified.
Because of all that God has done in creation, throughout redemptive history, and through Christ’s work on the cross, God will be greatly glorified.
So, why are we here? We are here to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
The examples given here are only the tip of the iceberg. We pray that you will read Scripture through the lens of God’s glory. We hope that you are encouraged by seeing how the God of the universe has a perfect plan, resulting in the glory that is due to His name.
May He show all His glory to you again and again as you diligently seek Him through His Word, and may he give you the courage to answer these difficult questions when asked by friends or family members.