Purpose in a sea of hopelessness

The first question and answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (WSC) is the most well-known and quoted of the entire catechism. And no wonder; it’s the question that has been asked throughout every culture and age. It provides the answer that sets us free from the uncertainty of our place in the world and declares the privilege of our existence.

WSC Q1: What is the chief end of man?

WSC A1: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

How do we arrive at this answer? Consider the Garden in which Adam and Eve were placed. There they were to walk with God in a land full of gold and precious stones, with glorious food and enjoyable work (Gen 2:7-17). Consider the New Creation where again we will be with God, comforted by him (Rev 7:15-17). And consider the Paul’s urging in 1 Cor 10:31, ‘So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

What a wonderful message this first question and answer provide. How encouraging that there is a purpose to life! We live in a time where God is dismissed, and therefore purpose is lost. Depression and suicide rates have increased dramatically in our culture despite our freedoms and prosperity. Why? One reason is a lack of purpose.

But despite the hopeless message of the world, the Bible continues to proclaim this hope-filled truth: we have a purpose, and it is good. It is full of joy, serving the God who made us and gave us so much. Worshipping him who made a world full of beauty and variety, rather than stale and boring. What it looks like to achieve our purpose takes the whole WSC to flesh out, but what an encouraging summary we have.