Time for my “semi-annual” post. I’m sure all six of you that read this thing have been very disapointed in the lack of activity on the ol’ blog. So here, finally, is part two of my series on God’s Eternal Purpose. All the content for this series is written, so now the only question is whether or not I will actually post it in a timely manner!
To catch you up to speed, this is part two of a series concerning God’s purposes in our universe. I propose that his purpose is really ONE purpose, and that this one purpose is intimately connected to humanity and mission. Many folks much smarter than I have spoken on such matters. I have to give a shout out to two of them.
One is a little known preacher from Minneapolis. He seems like an alright dude, and talks about this stuff all the time. I hope his preaching ministry catches on with folks.
The other fellaI discovered litterally by googling “missional theology.” At least google seems to think Brian D. Russel is an expert on this stuff. Now I do too. I follow about four blogs, and Brian’s is always the first I check.
The following is from a three part series I preached during Sunday evening worship at First Pres. I will be posting it piece by piece, point by point here on Iblogo Dei.
Life, the Universe and Everything
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galxy is a hillarious satire of human beings’ incessant quest for meaning and purpose in life. Its author, Douglas Adams, has a peculiar sense of absurd and dark humor that comes across loud and clear in one particular tale within the novel.
Millions of years ago, a race of extremely intelligent beings on another planet is plagued by the same questions human beings on earth are plagued with today: Why are people born? Why do they die? Who am I? What is my purpose in Life? Eventually, they get fed up. So they build themselves a super-computer that will tell them “the Answer.”
Two programmers are given the honor of turning on the magnificent computer. When they ask the computer “Deep Thought” for “the Answer” it seems puzzled. “The Answer to what?” he asks.
“To Life, the Universe and Everything!” they reply excitedly. Deep Thought decides that this is a tricky one. Yes, it will take him seven and a half million years to come up with the answer they seek!
Needless to say, the programmers are disappointed. After some time, Deep Thought convinces them that this is how it must be. Besides, they can build a career for themselves postulating and arguing over what the answer might be! After all, they’ll have seven and a half million years. This doesn’t seem like so bad a gig after all, so they wait happily. And so philosophy was born.
Seven and a half million years later, there is a great festival. The entire race has gathered to hear Deep Thought’s answer. A man addresses the crowd, “Seven and a Half Million Years our race has waited for this great and (hopefully) enlightening day! Never again will we wake up in the morning and think Who am I? What is my purpose in life? Does it really, cosmically speaking, matter if I don’t get up and go to work? For today we will finally learn once and for all the plain and simple answer to all these nagging little problems of Life, the Universe and Everything!” The crowd erupts!
The fanfare ceased, they turn to Deep Thought. “Good Morning,” it says simply. When questioned, it says that yes, it has an answer for them. “Though I don’t think that you are going to like it,” it says. They insist that that doesn’t matter! They must know!
“Alright,” says Deep Thought. “The answer to the Great Question of Life the Universe and Everything is…” Deep Thought pauses, seemingly for dramatic effect. The entire race of people is tense with excitement. “It is…”
“Forty-two,” says Deep Thought.
It was a long time before anyone spoke. Forty-two? What does that even mean? Deep Thought comes to his own defense.
“It was a tough assignment. I checked it very thoroughly and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you’ve never actually known what the question is” (emphasis mine).
And so begins the search for the Question to the Ultimate Answer.
The Question to the Ultimate Answer
It’s a silly story, but it raises some profound issues. Mankind searches for meaning. Human beings have an innate need for purpose. Everyone of us wants to know “the Answer.” But the answer to what? As Deep Thought said, the problem is that you’ve never actually known what the question is!
What question should we be asking? Is it, “What makes me happy?” Most Christians would say that’s not the right question. But what about this: “What is God’s will for my life?” That one sounds a lot more spiritual doesn’t it? But it’s still very much about self. I don’t think that’s the question either.
No, we human beings don’t really know what the question is, or so it would seem.
I can think of one question that does a pretty good job of it, however. It’s the first question of the shorter Catechism. What is the chief end of man? The Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. I believe that is a wonderful answer. That truly is man’s destiny and purpose: to glorify and enjoy God forever. That is why he was created, and in order to be authentically and fully human, that is what man must do.
But what if we attempted to ask an even bigger question? Man’s purpose is to enjoy and glorify God. But what is God’s purpose? I am not asking why does God exist? I’m asking, “What is God doing?” “Why did God create this world, and what is he doing with it now?” “What in the world is God up to?” “Where is it all going, how is it getting there, and what does that have to do with me?”
If you’ll excuse the lack of clarity in the question, “What is the chief end of God?”
I submit to you that that is the Question to the Ultimate Answer. What is God’s Eternal Purpose?
My hope is to explore the concept of God’s Eternal Purpose in that time and to demonstrate that once understood it is a unifying theme in all of scripture. Since I’ve discovered this concept, it’s really opened up the scriptures to me in a way I’ve never experienced before. My prayer is that it will do the same for you.
Let me tip my hand a bit here and give you a hint of a major aspect of what I believe to be God’s Eternal Purpose. I believe that God’s Eternal Purpose is inexctricably intwined with the concept of mission. I’m not referring to foreign missions here (though it certainly would include foreign missions). I mean to say that God’s Eternal Purpose is largely concerned with going where there is strife, disorder and disunity and bringing peace, order and unity through the gospel of Jesus Christ. For us it has to do with the reconciliation of all that was lost in the fall. That includes the reconciliation of God and man, and the reconciliation of man with man, man with creation and even between the nations.
That’s not a definition of God’s Eternal Purpose, it is merely a description of one very big aspect.