Why are we here?

Soli Deo Gloria

Image by paolosdala via Flickr

If we are not the reason for the creation of the universe and we are not necessary for life on earth to flourish; why are we here?  Are we just the end product of a pointless process? A cosmic joke?

There are, of course, a variety of answers to that question. For Christians, the cosmos isn’t pointless and neither are we. But still we ask, why are we here? As with most theological questions, there is more than one way to arrive at an answer.

If we start with Genesis, that story tells us we are here, as bearers of God’s image, to care for creation, to be stewards. We are to embody God’s care for the earth- to borrow a phrase- we are God’s hands and feet.

This answer raises another question (as answers always do) why does God want us to do this? From a strictly environmental point of view, the earth really doesn’t need us to function. So why does God call us to be stewards and caretakers?  I wonder if it is because we are the only species who can damage and destroy on a global scale. God is calling us to live rightly. Because God knows our propensity to act in bad, destructive ways, God’s call is to encourage us to do good. God nudges us along the path of care and love. God is love, and we, the image bearers, are to be that love- embodied- to creation.

Another place to look for the answer is in the gospels. Jesus, in Matthew’s gospel, tells us we are to love God and our neighbor. The question today as it was in Jesus’ day is, who is my neighbor? With clear evidence of the myriad ways we can damage the creation, and with clear evidence of how we are deeply connected to the rest of creation, the answer in our time must be that our neighbor is everything and everyone in creation.

The tradition of the church can also help guide out thinking. In my faith tradition we have confessions and creeds that are for us important statements. * The Westminster Shorter Catechism‘s first question is helpful as we ponder the “why are we here” question.question.

Q: What is the chief end of man?  In modern language this means something like, What is the primary goal or purpose of humankind?

A: …to glorify God and to enjoy him (sic) forever.

Love, glorify, enjoy. That’s enough of a reason to exist for me.

 

*Confessions and creeds are not equal in authority or value to the Bible and they are not authoritative for all times and all places. They are statements of belief and statements of understanding written by a particular people in a particular time and place. Sometimes we get lucky and put something in our confessions that stands the test of time. The first question and answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism remains true and help. Not all of the Shorter Catechism is as helpful.

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2 Responses to “Why are we here?”

  1. afrankangle Says:

    Not only are we humans the only species that can damage creation on a global scale, we are also the species that can reverse that trend.

    Meanwhile, yes, we are to care for our environment and manage its resources wisely, but care for creation also extends to caring for other people – and that list is long!

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