Why am I Here?
Why am I here? is a timeless question, inevitably tied to questions of purpose and personal worth. It’s an important question to ask, and the answer one arrives at determines how one thinks of himself and interacts with the world.
Some people advocate the idea that humans came about by impersonal, evolutionary processes and that life is just an accident. If that’s the case, then there’s no real reason for why we are here—life has no ultimate purpose. The Bible says otherwise. Genesis 1:1–27 describes how an intelligent Creator purposefully made all things in six days, including the first man and woman. God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” (verse 26). The Lord created mankind to bear His image and rule His creation, but the first humans chose to disobey God and brought sin and death into the world (Genesis 3:12–19; Romans 5:12). Since that time, mankind has been estranged from God (Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:23). Without an anchoring relationship to the Lord, we are left wondering who we are, why we are here, and what our purpose is.
Why am I here? To glorify God. Ultimately, God created us for His glory; our purpose is to glorify Him and, in this fallen world, to make Him known to others (Isaiah 43:7; Matthew 28:18–19). Human beings are not accidents; we are not here by chance. Many passages in the Bible make it clear that the purpose of humans is to give God praise and glory, for He created us and gave us life (Ecclesiastes 12:13; Revelation 4:11). Augustine of Hippo sums up our purpose and our deep desire in his Confessions: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee” (1.1.1).
The general reason why we are here—to glorify God—extends to each of us specifically. Psalm 139:16 indicates that God’s purpose for us is as precise as it is personal: “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed” (NLT). According to this verse, God is in control of three things that intimately concern each of us: 1) the beginning of each life, 2) the length of each life, and 3) the exact plan for each life.
Why am I here? To be reconciled to God, who “commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). Jesus died in our place, taking the punishment for our sins upon Himself (Romans 5:6–8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Through His resurrection, He conquered sin and death and made it possible for us to have a relationship with God, thus restoring the relationship that was fractured at the fall of mankind (2 Timothy 1:10; Romans 5:10). By repentance and faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are set free from sin. The Bible describes God as “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Why am I here? To serve the Lord and obey Him. “When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: Fear God and keep His commandments, because this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, BSB). There is no higher purpose than being a servant of the King of the universe (see Psalm 84:10).
Why am I here? To prepare for eternity. Those who are confused about why they are here may end up pursuing pleasure or wealth or fame as the goal of life, but all of those things are vanity, as the book of Ecclesiastes attests. Part of why we’re here is to ready ourselves for the inevitable journey we must take after death: “People are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Jesus promoted an eternal perspective, asking, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Mark 8:36–37).
In knowing, glorifying, and serving the Lord, we have the answer to why we are here. In all that we do, even in everyday tasks, we can glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Since the Lord uniquely made each one of us, we can glorify Him in ways unique to our personalities, talents, and gifts (see Psalm 139:13–14; 1 Peter 4:10–11). Because God created us, loved us, and redeemed us in Christ, He is worthy of all praise and glory, and our lives should be a testimony to His grace and goodness.
Who Has God Created and Shaped Me to be?
On the sixth day of creation, God did something He had not done before. When He created the world and everything in it, He merely spoke it all into existence (Genesis 1). But on the sixth day, He reached down into the clay and formed a man. He then “breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). The breath of God created an eternal soul in the man. God made mankind in His own image; that is, Adam and Eve were more like Him than anything else He had created (Genesis 1:27). Humans would live forever, just as God will. He told the first couple to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it (verse 28). He had created them for a purpose, and all the people that came after them were created for a purpose, too.
Scattered throughout the Bible are hints about the reasons God made us. Our first hint is in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 2:15 says that God took the man He had created and put him in the garden to tend it. God had created a caretaker for His earth. He gave man dominion over everything else and gave him a job to do (Genesis 1:28). Man’s first job was naming all the animals (Genesis 2:19–20). God could have named the animals Himself, but He enjoyed working with Adam the way a loving parent enjoys watching her preschooler learn a skill. So we were created for work, but not work in the way we usually define it. Work was designed to be a fulfilling way we experience God by working in harmony with Him to accomplish His goals.
We know from Psalm 139:13–16 that we were each formed by God while inside our mothers. We are His masterpieces, created by Him for unique purposes (Ephesians 2:10). God is intimately involved in our creation: “The word of the LORD came to me, saying: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I set you apart and appointed you a prophet to the nations’” (Jeremiah 1:4–5). That statement alone should overwhelm us with wonder. The Lord God Almighty, Creator of the universe, chooses us individually and then creates us exactly as He wants us to be. Scripture is clear that every human being was created by God for His pleasure and His purpose (Colossians 1:16).
If we are going to fulfill our purpose, we need to consult the Bible. The Bible tells us about who God is, who we are, and how we should live our lives. Many people try to find purpose in happiness, fun, or popularity because they are unaware that God has greater purpose for their lives. Sadly they end up empty and frustrated. But they don’t need to. God has given us His Word (the Bible) so that we could learn who He is and who we are. When we consult it for direction, we have opened the roadmap that leads to our purpose.
One thing we learn is that God loves us and proved that love by sending His Son, Jesus, to show us what He is like (John 14:9). Although God loves us, our sin has separated us from Him (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Jesus came to earth and offered Himself in our place. He took the punishment our sin deserves (2 Corinthians 5:21). God raised Him from the dead three days later, proving that Jesus is Lord over everything, including death (Romans 10:9–10). Then God decreed that everyone who places faith in Jesus will be forgiven and enter a relationship with Him (John 3:16–18). So God’s first desire for every human being is that we come to know Him through faith in His Son. When we know who He is, we can discover who we are.
God’s goal for each of His children is that we take on a family resemblance. He wants us to be like Jesus (Romans 8:29). So He gives us spiritual gifts that enable us to serve Him in supernatural ways (1 Peter 4:10; 1 Corinthians 12:7–11). As we learn to walk in harmony with God and use our gifts to serve others, we are living our purpose.
God created us for a purpose, but that purpose will look different for every person because we are each unique. To be created in the image of God means that we were created to be mirrors of God’s glory—one-of-a-kind mirrors that reflect the diverse aspects of His nature. A mirror serves no other purpose than to reflect something else. A mirror is useless when covered in mud; likewise, when we are covered in sin and turned away from God, we are not living out the purpose for which we were created. But when we respond to God’s offer of salvation and allow His Holy Spirit to clean us up, we turn toward our Creator, and His glory is reflected in our lives. It is not our light or beauty the world needs to see, but His (John 8:12; 9:5).
Micah 6:8 tells us what God expects from us: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” God created us to walk with Him, talk with Him, discover His attributes, and bless the world from that perspective. To act justly is to hold ourselves to a higher standard than our old sin natures followed (1 Corinthians 10:31). We seek to learn God’s commands so we can obey them. To love mercy is to become channels of the same mercy and grace that rescued us (Titus 3:5). We offer forgiveness to those who offend us and leave final judgment to God (1 Corinthians 4:5). We walk humbly with our God when we stay close to Him in good times and bad, thanking Him for every good gift and running to Him when we feel threatened (1 Thessalonians 5:18; Proverbs 18:10). When we walk humbly with our God, we store up treasure in heaven as we seek to know and follow His will. By living our lives on earth for His glory, we can one day step into His presence knowing that we have fulfilled the purpose for which He created us (1 Timothy 6:18–19; Matthew 6:20; Luke 19:17).
What Is God Preparing Me to Be and Do?
Whether it’s something as simple as waiting for a waiter to take our order or as significant as waiting for children, we’re all put through experiences which test our patience. In both of these everyday cases, the period before we get what we want enables us to prepare for what is to come. Likewise, when God makes us wait He is preparing us for our future. It might be that the time encourages us to calm our desires and become more rational in our approach or it might be so that we can gain knowledge about things which will give us a better understanding of how to respond to our calling.
He gives us great gifts
You might be good at something which you can’t see much use for in your current circumstances but one day that talent may be at the centre of your service to God. It could be something as seemingly ordinary as being able to negotiate well or something as essential as having a strong faith in the Lord.
There might not be a great need for you to mediate between groups where you are now or you might have little trouble keeping your faith because life is going swimmingly, but one day these attributes or whichever ones you’re nurturing may be of monumental use.
He sends us signs
It’s not a coincidence that before you had to deal with an unexpected personal tragedy a particular Psalm was on loop in your mind or that a sermon about healing stays with you for months before you or someone you know falls seriously ill.
The topic of your Bible study group, a series of conversations with a friend, a sermon at your church or a certain Bible passage that you keep returning to might not seem of to have any particular relevance to anything you’re going through right now, but these are all ways in which God can communicate messages to us which prepare us to deal with life’s twists and turns.
What is God’s personal calling for me?
How Do I Use My Personal Calling Statement?