“What am I doing?”
It’s a question we ask ourselves from time to time. Confused and muddled—straying from purpose and direction—we continue tasks and work, but we often feel ‘off’ doing so. Funks, moods, and weariness can set it, and we feel lost.
We know we were made for purpose. We sense it in our bones. But it is not just any purpose. God tells us that he created this world and has each of us here for a reason. He knows what he’s doing, and we’re a part of something grand. Considering this purpose is no mere theological debate. It’s of ultimate significance and it impacts daily life.
We can begin, therefore, to address the daily “What am I doing?” by looking at our original purpose in God’s big picture and how it relates to us now. Specifically, we can find everyday meaning in how God’s original purpose relates to Christ, his gospel, and us today.
“Be Fruitful and Multiply and Fill the Earth”
God’s first command to human beings was, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth" (Genesis 1:28). This instruction was given by the Creator to Adam and Eve. In history the Designer of this all made two persons and designed them to fruitfully multiply and fill the earth.
In so doing his goal was to spread his glory. He is the happiest, most beautiful, loveliest, most interesting Person that has ever existed. So, to share this glory, he created the world. As John Calvin famously termed, the world is a "theater of God's glory."
Our Purpose: Glory Reflectors Spread Everywhere
Yet God's greatest glory display wasn't in the mountains, nor the mighty animals, nor even the distant stars. His supreme created glory was (and is) exhibited in human beings—in you and me.
Here is where our daily lives come in. He had and has a prominent purpose for us. We were made most "like" him so that the world could be full of little god-like creatures knowing and showing his glory. God is happy; he designed us able to laugh and smile. God can create; he made us creative. God can communicate; he created us able to speak, read, and write. God is love in three Persons; he made us able to love like him.
This is us, the human race: reflectors of his glory, beholding and exploding it into his world. Millions and billions of these reflectors were to "be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth," so that God's universe would be a theater of his glory with billions of beautiful participants. This would be for his praise, but simultaneously for our good too, as we get to participate in the greatest creativity, loveliness, and happiness—the glory of God.
Yet sin corrupted our capacity to clearly know and show this glory. We still maintain God's image and likeness (Genesis 9:6) and have the same purpose (Genesis 9:7), but we're now broken, twisted, sinful, selfish, ashamed—dim reflectors.
God, however, saw this coming—even planned this—and had a solution. We call it "the gospel," the good news about Jesus Christ. It is about forgiveness and eternal life—how "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may night perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). But it's much larger than just that. As there's cosmic purposes in his creation, so there are in his good news, in his redemption of this broken creation.
The Gospel is "Bearing Fruit and Growing" in the Whole World
Through this good news, God accomplishes his ancient goal for us and his world: "be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth." Because of the message about Jesus Christ, his purpose now is happening. People are being forgiven, reconciled to God, made alive in Christ, and filling the earth with his glory. Images are being restored; reflectors are being polished.
Paul makes a stunning connection to our original purpose in Genesis 1:28 when he writes about "the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing" (Colossians 1:5-6). Linking the command from Genesis to the gospel is striking. It brings us all the way back to page one (or two) of our Bibles. God always wanted to fill his world with knowers and showers of his glory. But all became corrupted. But now, through this restoring message of Christ, it is happening! All over the world people are being forgiven, reconciled, restored. All over the world people are spreading the good news of forgiveness and joy, the hope of the perfected future to come.
Purpose Only through the Perfect Image, Jesus Christ
The reason it's working is not, however, because us. It's because of Jesus. He died to make it possible, and he also reigns as the true "image of God" (Colossians 1:15). He is the "radiance of the glory of God” (Hebrews 1:3). If we are to find the satisfaction of our original purpose of knowing and showing glory, we need to go to him. Left to ourselves, we'll continue to be poor reflectors. But we can find reflection restoration in the Greatest Reflector. We become a "new self...after the image of its Creator" (Colossians 3:10).
Just as Jesus forgives and saves, so he restores. He's the Savior and our hope. When we know him, we are saved from condemnation—amen and hallelujah. But cosmically, we’re reestablished to our original purpose. We're realigned with our design. And best of all, we get to know and relate with him, the true Image and Glory of God. We participate in this all now, yet more substantially, forever, in the renewed creation.
"Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth." Through the gospel of Christ, this is coming about in glory. “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). This is happening through Christ, through his gospel—through us trusting Christ in the gospel; through us showing forth his glory in the gospel.
This is why we’re here, day in and day out. For those in Christ, this is what we’re doing: knowing and showing the glory of God in Christ in the gospel which is “bearing fruit and growing in the whole world.” What a privilege to play this part in God's cosmic plan.