Jesus turned and saw Andrew and another following, and said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day…later, Andrew went and found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Christ.”
–The Gospel of John, Chapter 1, verses 38-41, paraphrased
Have you ever wondered why God created us? After all, we seem to be a lot of trouble for Him, so much so that He once destroyed “every living thing” that He had made, except Noah and his family and at least representative pairs of all animals and birds.
But, why would God create us? Some point to Isaiah’s words that say God created us for His glory. Surely this is true. The Westminster Shorter Catechism tells us that “the chief end of man” is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Again, surely this is true. Still, somehow all of this seems a little sterile to me. Using a human relationship, I can glorify a human king by being an upright, obedient subject and by showing proper respect to the king. But beyond that I might never have any relationship with the king.
God moved me beyond my early notion of bringing Him glory when I began to understand Jesus when He said that eternal life is to “know the only true God [the Father] and Jesus Christ whom He sent.” Here, the Greek work for “know” means the most intimate relationship we can imagine. So, to combine the Scriptures, somehow my intimate relationship with God glorifies Him.
But, again, why? What is it about God that wants a relationship with me and yearns for me to have a relationship with Him…a relationship He wants so badly that He, in the person of Jesus, died to have it?
I think have found the answer; and of course I’m not the first to come to this. Here is how I am currently thinking about this question of the creation of mankind. Have you ever had an experience that you found so joy-filled that you couldn’t wait to share it? An experience you just couldn’t wait to invite another into hoping they, too, would share your joy? As a kid I was always inviting other kids to play football or baseball in the park; it was so much fun for me and I wanted us all to have fun. As an adult I encourage friends to go to a particular restaurant or to go see a movie…all things that have brought me joy. Even better are the events in which I share the joy with them, such as shared meals or movies. I really enjoy golf. I find great joy in being outside and walking the course. The (very) occasional good shot I hit is also joyful. My pleasure from golf was actually enhanced when my wife began to play and we could share the joy of the game. It seems natural to us to invite others into that which we have found joyful and in that act find our own joy enhanced; so natural is it that I believe it is part of who we are, part of being made “in the image and likeness” of God.
So, now I imagine the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit; I imagine the perfect love that exists in the relationship, so perfect that the three are distinct and yet one, unified in love. I imagine the joyous love that must always be present within the Trinity, so present that the Apostle John says that God is love. I find it easy to imagine that God, immersed in perfect love and the resulting joy would want to share that experience; not just by showering others with love but by inviting others in to that experience of love. With whom did God choose to share His experience? Us…He created us to share the experience of love with Him, to enter into the same relationship with God that Jesus has with His Father.
With whom did God choose to share His experience? Us…He created us to share the experience of love with Him, to enter into the same relationship with God that Jesus has with His Father.
Can there be any truth more profound? I think not. When Jesus walked the earth He continually invited others along. “Follow Me” was His urging. Some followed; most didn’t. This inviting is, I believe, at the heart of what Jesus means when as His last words to His followers before being crucified He prays for us to be relationally “one” with He and our Father (John 17:22-26).
I have had a few deeply mystical encounters with God in which I have experienced the briefest taste of His love for me. Its power is incapacitating in the moment. The result of each encounter has always been the deepening of my love for Him. And I have the great fortune of experiencing perhaps the best possible human expression of God’s love in my marriage and also with a small, deeply loving community of committed Jesus followers. These experiences have been important events that have moved me along the path of being transformed into the likeness of Jesus. Here is something I’ve discovered along the way: the more I become like Christ, the more I experience the kind of love that exists within the Trinity, and the more I respond to His invitation to join in His love, the more I long for others to experience it…I long to share with you the experience God is sharing with me.
So, I say to you, whoever you are reading this, I have found the Christ…come, and you too will see.