Who am I? What am I here for? What is the meaning of life?
These questions were what I was wrestling with as I was entering adolescence. I could tell you the gospel message and share all the significant stories from the bible, but I still felt confused about the whole point. I believed that Jesus died to save me from my sins so that I could go to heaven when I died. But it all seemed so selfish. I was practicing a religion that was just a self-help therapy with the added “fire-insurance” for my safety. I didn’t have a grip on what it all meant. During that time, I was reading through Ecclesiastes. Here’s a guy that’s wrestling with the same things I was. What’s the point? Meaningless, meaningless! All is vanity, a chasing after the wind. When I finished the book, the conclusion was rather sobering:
“Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
Fear God and keep his commandments. That’s the point? I was confused. But, the meaning of this passage became clear thanks to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism:
“Q:What is the chief end of man?
A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, to and enjoy Him forever.”
The “chief end” means what is the ultimate purpose for humans on earth. It’s to glorify and enjoy the Creator. To relate to Him in a way that combines worship or “fear” with joy. We are designed for praise the way that a bird’s wing is designed for flight. We are designed for discipleship the way an eye is designed to see. Praise is the thing that we are designed to do forever. This realization opened up my mind and my heart to believe that the gospel, the church, and the path of following Jesus was not ultimately about self-preservation, but it was about being restored to the function that we were designed to complete. Like a bird being released from a cage and given the freedom to fly.
This weekend, I am introducing a song to our church for the first time called “Praise Is What I Do” by William Murphy III. It’s the title track on the classic worship recording by Shekinah Glory Ministry from about 10 years ago. The song feels a little hypocritical at first. Am I really defined by praise? Albert Pujols is so defined by home runs that Albert could say, “Hitting homers is what I do.” But can all of us say that praise is what we do. We can sing it remembering that all of us were created for that purpose. We can sing it as a song of resurrection life. We are claiming a reality that is already but not yet. Praise is what I do. It defines me. It makes me whole and meaningful in the universe. I am a divinely appointed worshiper. Jesus has made me a new creation to reverse my natural inclination to be an idol factory, and restored me into being a praise factory.