Pastoral Perspectives

What’s Your Goal In Life?

I typed this question on Google and here are some responses that I came across: ‘My short term goal is to get a good job in any reputed company. My long term goal is to reach a higher and respectable position in the organisation where I will work.’ ‘I want to score good marks in my exams.’ ‘I want to find someone I love, get married and take good care of my kids and hubby.’ ‘I want to make myself and my family happy and to do work for society.’

If you were to be asked this question, what would your response be? As believers, I hope that you will say with conviction: ‘My goal in life is to glorify God.’ The first statement in the Westminster Shorter Catechism says: ‘Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him for ever. The Apostle Paul wrote: ‘whatever you do, do all to the glory of God’ (1 Corinthians 10.31b)

To glorify God means to acknowledge the greatness of His splendour and to give Him honour by praising and worshiping Him because He alone deserves to be honoured, praised and worshiped. The Psalmist said: ‘All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name…I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.’ (Ps 86.9, 12)

As we gather for worship every Sunday, we glorify God. Through the songs we sing and prayers we offer, we praise God for who He is (His attributes) – He is majestic; He is holy; He is just; He is faithful; He is love. We also glorify Him when we thank Him for what He has done (His actions) – He created the heavens and the earth; He created us in His own image; He redeemed us from condemnation of sin; He re-created us in Christ; He continues to sustain us through His Spirit, watching over our coming and going, giving us strength to persevere the trials of life, comforting, counselling and helping us. Every Sunday as we gather together as God’s beloved people, we have the opportunity and let us seize that opportunity to declare His attributes and His actions, and in so doing, we give Him the honour that He rightly deserves.

Although the purpose of Sunday worship is the glorification of God, it is also the major location for the sanctification of the faithful. Through the worship service, we are exhorted, encouraged and equipped, beginning with a transformed mind set, to go out into the world to live as faithful disciples of Jesus in a hostile world where we journey as aliens and exiles. In the process, we become more and more like our Master as we bear the fruit of His Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5.22-23). We may take three steps forward and two steps back. Forgiveness is always at hand, and through confession and repentance, we grow in Christ-likeness. This too is worship that glorifies God because it entails offering our lives as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Him (Romans 12.1). This is also how worship can take place 24/7, beyond the two hours we spend on Sundays.

We not only want to keep in step with Jesus by becoming more like Him, we also want to keep in step with Him by doing what He has called us to do. Jesus told His disciples: ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’ (John 20.21) What did God the Father send His Son to do? ‘The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’ (Luke 19.10) Likewise, as His disciples, we are to go and seek and save the lost. We are called to bring the Gospel to our families, our friends, our colleagues, to walk across the room and engage people in spiritual conversations as the Spirit leads, to be involved in the work of missions, and to disciple those who come to faith. In short, we are called to carry out the Great Commission ((Matthew 28.19-20). Surely, both the salvation of souls and the sanctification of the church will bring glory to God.

Following the footsteps of Christ, we are also called to practise deeds of mercy and compassion, a neighbourly love that responds to all forms of human need as they present themselves, the fulfilment of the second Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22.39). It was compassion that led Jesus to heal the sick, feed the hungry, and teach the ignorant and as His disciples, we must be similarly compassionate in our service, in our giving and in our hospitality. Jesus on the Sermon of the Mount said: ‘Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.’ (Matthew 5.16)

Worship brings glory to God. The worship that we offer to God on a Sunday or during DG meetings or during our quiet moments with God will bring glory to Him as we declare His praises. But worship continues throughout the day and the week regardless the vocation or life stage we are in. On those respective platforms, we continue to worship God by the way we live our lives. As we emulate Jesus in His Being and Doing, we will bring honour to God.

Westminster Shorter Catechism however has a second part to Man’s chief end: To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. What does the latter mean? It speaks of relationship, communion and delight. It means that daily worship ought to be something enjoyable, something delightful. It requires us to be obedient to God’s Word which reveals to us how worship should be carried out, and we obey out of our love for Him, loving Him with all our heart, soul and mind, the Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22.37). Obedience and love go hand in hand. Jesus said: ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments.’ (John 14.15) The Apostle John said: ‘For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.’ (1 John 5.3) Obeying God’s commandments should be something delightful, and all the more, because we are overwhelmed by the love of Christ and know that these commandments are given out of that same love that drove Him to the cross. Not only does the love of Christ compel us, the Spirit of Christ empowers us, and so we are not on our own when we strive to live a life of worship. ‘It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.’ (Philippians 2.13) If we are able to enjoy Him in this manner, to take delight in His commandments and to find our fullest satisfaction in Him (Psalm 73.25), then this too will bring glory to His holy name. As His beloved children, let us be able to readily articulate, through our lips and lives, what the chief purpose of our existence is.

Rev Lee Kien Seng

October 19, 2014