Written by Andrew J. Miller |
Friday, January 12, 2024
Making your life about your family is good, but dependent on people who change and die. Making your life about serving others, in the vein of Gandi or Mother Theresa, is better than being curved inward but entails you always resting on your own strength, with no promise of results. Our lives must be God-oriented, for our hearts are restless until they find rest in him (Augustine).
Ever since the garden of Eden, sin has been cast as freeing and God’s law as enslaving. Today it’s endemic; sin is glamourized in sitcoms, on magazine covers, on YouTube, in Hollywood, by the influence of peers, and of course, in our own hearts—idol factories as they are (as John Calvin put it). Part of the insidious nature of the world’s influence is that most people involved in this are so ignorant of God’s Word that they don’t realize they are glamorizing sin—and neither do those who listen or watch. Subtly, generations have grown up consuming media like MTV and Tiktok that glorify and excuse sin. We have been taught that the American Dream, or to put it another way, our “chief end,” is to glorify ourselves and enjoy the world until we die.
Part of the danger to our souls in this is that Christianity is cast not only as untrue, but as repressive. I remember my wife coming home from work when I was in seminary and telling me how one of her coworkers spoke disparagingly about “all the rules” in Christianity. It seemed quite a mischaracterization because for us, Christianity is about grace—the so-called “rules” shape our gratitude to God and show us our guilt—which in turn deepens our thankfulness for God’s gracious forgiveness in Christ. Still, the devil’s lie continues to find purchase—and Christianity is cast as the opposite of fun, cast as an obstacle to the dream of personal peace and affluence here and now.
The earthly results are devastating even apart from the eternal consequences; a recent Harvard Education report noted that “Nearly 3 in 5 young adults (58%) reported that they lacked ‘meaning or purpose’ in their lives in the previous month. Half of young adults reported that their mental health was negatively influenced by ‘not knowing what to do with my life.’”[i] In other words, there is great need to recover a biblical view of human purpose, expressed so well in the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
Immediately any naysayers lamenting that Christianity makes life dull are challenged here: human beings are not only to glorify God, but to enjoy him. And not just for a moment, but forever. The Bible is full of exhortations to joy in God. As Romans 14:17 puts it, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” And a few sentences later, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Rom. 15:13).
The Bible in fact presents man’s enjoyment of God as not only surpassing earthly pleasures, but as enduring despite earthly deprivation.