Why do I exist?
Such a simple question. And yet, perhaps the most confusing. New theories for life are constantly being developed and followed. Explanations for a statistically near-impossible universe are mass produced on the conveyer-belt of human reasoning. Even the most mind-boggling advances in design and technology, in this day and age of such incredible knowledge, leave us wanting. It’s beyond us. We can’t reach a consensus conclusion.
And so the answers to why we exist range on a ridiculously large spectrum.
And here’s the deal. Everyone answers the question of why they exist. Whether consciously or not. If not in words, then it shows up in actions. Because what you believe, will always impact how you respond to the world. And how you respond to the world, will always be a reflection of what you believe.
And so this post comes with two prongs.
First, to those of you who are willing to bet your lives away on the education of chance – the everything springing into existence from nothing, all just a statistical freak accident of nature – consider why you exist. Consider how worthless and hopeless you are in light of this view. And then think long and hard about whether this is worth going all-chips-in.
Secondly, for those who are aboard the God train-of-thought. I want to put before you the words of Jesus. I hope to hit you afresh with the blood-bought way Christians are to live and so respond to this world. As described by Jesus. And as recorded in Matthew 5:11-16.
Let’s get stuck in.
HOPE IN GOD
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:11)
These are amazing words.
I wish I could hit you with the air of craziness these words are packed with. Nobody with relative sanity speaks like this. Put it this way. I am yet to see or hear any leader look their people dead in the eye, and state, with all authority, that being the brunt of bullying (even to death) is a great blessing. But Jesus does. And for a very important reason.
Jesus wants us to grasp something to the deepest fibre of our being. Specifically, the last words of Matthew 5:11 – “theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”. Here’s the point. We Christians can be so sure of this promise that even (and especially) in death, there is still hope – even overriding feelings of joy. His words are saturated with this promise.
How do Christians respond with meekness? Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. How do Christians battle impurity? Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. How do Christians remain peacemakers in friendships, families, countries, and a world of tremendous upheaval?
Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
SALT OF THE EARTH
“You are the salt of the earth” – Jesus (Matthew 5:13)
Everything the Christian does hinges off that hope.
But with the previous words of Jesus still ringing in the ears of the disciples, Jesus jumps right into describing what a life of joy in hope – amidst suffering – looks like. And he starts by saying Christians who live like this are the salt of the earth.
What is Jesus trying to say here?
This whole salt thing is an analogy. Because Jesus is recorded as saying we need to “possess the qualities of salt” (Mark 9:50). And salt can do a lot of useful things. Salt can heal wounds. Salt can preserve food. Salt can bring out the flavour in food. But one major theme governs all functions of salt: Interaction. This is fundamental to all purposes. Salt must first interact with its surroundings before it has any viable effect.
Here’s what I think we can draw from the comparison.
As followers of Jesus we do not run away from culture – we influence it. Like salt, we interact with the world in order to enhance the flavour of Christ. We extend the word of God – to eternally heal, to enrich faith, and to preserve lives. We are on a public mission to “show the world that our God is worth ten thousand worlds” (Charles Spurgeon).
Even should it come at the cost of our own lives.
LIGHT OF THE WORLD
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” – Jesus (Matthew 5:16)
So we are salt. But now we are also light.
One thing we know for sure is that Jesus has maintained this idea of interaction. “Let your light shine before others”. But he adds a new idea. Light. Which implies something incredible. Truly incredible. And that is if Christians are the light of the world, then everything else is not. Everything else is darkness.
Put simply, every worldview that stiff-arms Christ as life-giver is false.
The world, shrouded in darkness, is mislead into destructive ways of life. Jesus comes with the light showing us the way (John 14:6). The world fumbles around with statistics and other scientific measures, yet remains unclear of solid and unshakeable truth. Jesus comes with a beacon extending the truth (John 14:6). The world is unaware of any eternal danger. Yet Jesus enters the scene illuminating in himself the life (John 14:6).
The light of the Christian is Christ.
All who believe in him are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). And we who are called will stand-out with and for this truth – like a city on a hill, unmistakably present, different, welcoming – beaming with the glory of Jesus Christ.
But how does this look practically?
In the text, a clear connection is made between good works and giving glory to God. “So that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matt 5:16). Good works are presented as the means to giving God glory. But as John Piper once famously said, “Nobody is getting saved by watching you take somebody a bowl of soup.”
Our good works alone are not significant. What makes Christianity significant is the light we direct others to. We as Christians are called to point our arrows to the infinite source of all light. We point the arrowhead of our life to he who spoke everything into existence.
If we were to turn our arrow and direct others to ourselves, everyone would be severely disappointed. Not least ourselves. What makes a Christian have impact is the infinitely worthiness we direct others to. We shed light on the supreme source of everything. The very breath that spoke light into existence is at work in us.
And our job is to let it shine (Matthew 5:16).
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
“Taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalm 34:8)
This verse has proven very popular over the years.
David calls us to “Taste and see that the LORD is good” (Psalm 34:8). Sounds odd. Is God edible and visible? How can we taste and see that the LORD is good? In the words of John Piper, this is a remarkable juxtaposition. A striking contrast. Worthy of our attention.
I have a theory. Perhaps, just perhaps, David was alluding to this overriding purpose of the Christian life. Taste, by means of adding salt to enhance the flavour and make much of the goodness of God at every opportunity. And see, by means of shedding light on the supreme worth and joy of Christ (Acts 20:24).
We are salt and light. So that all can taste and see. Taste and see what? That the LORD is good. This is why we exist. We exist to make much of Christ. Whether by life or death (Philippians 1:20) in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18) for all people (Matt 28:19).
Why do you exist?