A Clay Jar

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Cor. 4:7 NIV)

Is It True That We Were Created for A Purpose?

Does creation have a purpose? Is there a purpose for the existence of humanity? And, more specifically, do I have a purpose, a reason for being? This article will examine the Bible’s answers to these important questions.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Defining Purpose

Google defines purpose as “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.” This definition gives us two distinct ways that ‘purpose’ is used. The first has to do with why something is done. And the second concerns why something exists.

The first of these usages is pretty straightforward. Nearly everything we do is for some reason, even if that reason is not good. The purpose of going to work nearly every morning for over 40 years was to be able to buy food and clothes as well as provide my family with a place to live. There was a concrete reason for my employment.

The second usage of purpose concerns the reason for existence. The purpose of my gardens is that they bring me pleasure. I enjoy their peaceful beauty. The purpose of my kitchen is much more practical. It allows me to prepare my meals. But other things around my house have no purpose, although they might have at one time. The dust bunnies under the couch serve no purpose, at least as far as I am concerned. When I put it there, much of what occupies my garage had a purpose. But that purpose has been lost over time. While it might be useful to someone else, it no longer has value to me.

When we look at the question asked in the title of this article, we are primarily concerned with our reason for existence. Were we created for a purpose? Is there a reason for our existence?

From An Atheistic Perspective

An atheist would answer this question in two distinct ways. They will often first address what they see as their purpose. Essentially what they mean by this is the purpose they have assigned to themselves and what they are trying to accomplish in this life. But that is not the question being addressed here.

When asked more specifically why they exist, rather than not existing, they have to say that they have no purpose. There is no reason why they exist. If there is no creator of the universe, then the whole cosmos is without purpose. It just is.

From A Christian Perspective

A Christian will have an entirely different answer to this question about purpose. Believing that there is a God who created the universe changes how we view its purpose. If the universe is just an accident, it can have no real purpose. But if it were intentionally created, as the Scripture affirms, the creation would have a purpose. The creator was trying to accomplish something in his creation. But what was it?

I do not believe the Scripture gives us an explicit purpose statement for the creation. While it does affirm that God intentionally created all that is, the purpose is not directly revealed. Some might argue that it was simply something he enjoyed, like an artist painting a picture. And he did indeed find the creation to be good and desirable.

But I believe that God’s purpose in creation was not creation itself. Instead, it was something that would come out of the creation. In this case, creation itself is only a means to an end. You might think of this universe as being like my kitchen. The purpose of the kitchen is to produce a meal.

In the same way, the purpose of creation is to produce something. And I believe that something is humanity. Not what we are now. But what we were made to become.

The Purpose of Humanity

If the focus of creation is on humanity, the logical question would be, why? What purpose would God have in creating humanity? In the context of the whole creation, we are pretty insignificant. Why create all of this for us?

The first chapter of Genesis does give us an answer concerning the purpose of humanity. In this chapter, there are eight creative acts spanning the six days. In three of the creative acts, there is a given purpose. On the second day, God created a vault to separate the waters above from the waters below. On day four, God created the celestial bodies to institute a way to track time. And finally, the eighth creative action produced humanity.

When God created humanity in his image, it was to rule over the other creatures that God had made. Humanity’s initial purpose in creation was to be God’s vice-regent, caring for God’s creation under God’s authority.

Our Ultimate Purpose

But being caretakers for the rest of the creation is not the end purpose of our creation. It is only an intermediate step toward God’s final purpose. You can find that final purpose expressed in Ephesians 1:13-14. Here Paul says that those who have believed in Christ have been sealed by the Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. An inheritance that is awaiting our final redemption.

This inheritance does not belong to all of humanity. But only to those who have believed in Christ and given their lives to him. Paul here calls us God’s possession. Like the kitchen that exists to produce a meal, so the creation exists to produce a redeemed humanity for God. What purpose we will have in eternity is unclear. But we can be assured that we are precious to God. And that he has a purpose for us.

My Purpose

Redeemed humanity has an eternal purpose. But what about me as an individual within that redeemed humanity. Not just in eternity, but here in this life? Does God have a purpose for me now?

I believe there are two distinct purposes for our lives as believers today. The first is to function within Christ’s church as an active and healthy member of the body. All redeemed humanity makes up Christ’s body. And each of us has a role within that body to fulfill. Ephesians 4:16 tells us that the body is healthy and growing when each member of the body is doing what God has called us to do. Each of us has a different role within the body (1 Cor. 12:12-31), and our purpose here is, at least in part, to fulfill that role the best we can.

The second purpose I see for us here is to prepare us for eternity. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 talks about building our lives on the foundation of Christ. And Paul tells us that, in some way, our eternal future is impacted by the way we have built now. It is not an issue of salvation. But it does make clear that the life I live now is preparing me for my future.

The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.

If you have found value in this post, please consider subscribing to A Clay Jar so that you don’t miss any other posts. 

This article was first published on Christianity.com on July 6, 2021

6 thoughts on “Is It True That We Were Created for A Purpose?”

  1. Interesting article, Ed.
    Kindly help me answer these questions about humanity:
    First of all, before I was born, where was I? Was I in existence already before birth?

    Next, if God is all knowing, why doesn’t he prevent the coming into existence of people who he knows will do evil and would eventually end up in hell? Would it not have been better if he did not cause their existence in the first place?

    Lastly, Does existence end? Will I at a point cease to exist?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • I can share with you what I believe to be true. Others may disagree with me, but I suspect few believers will take exception to most of my positions.

      I believe that you come into existence at conception. I do not believe that you had existed in any form prior to conception.

      If you are a believer, I do not believe you will ever cease to exist. But that you will eternally exist in the presence of God. I do tend to believe, though, that unbelievers will ultimately cease to exist. That is a very controversial belief though.

      Your middle question is more challenging. And it really comes down to the question of why God permits evil in the first place. Could he have created a world where evil was not possible? I have no doubt that he could have. But is it logically possible to grant humans autonomy without taking the very real risk that we would make choices that would end up causing harm to others? And sometimes great evil. No doubt God could have prevented the birth of Hitler, Stalin, or Mao. But where would he draw the line for the amount of potential evil a person would be allowed? And how do we know that he has not prevented even worse people from being born? There is just too much we do not know based on our limited understanding of the infinite God and his purposes.

      Reply
    • Thank you.
      I’m blessed by this article.
      But I have a question,

      How can the purpose of something not be relevant or useful any longer.?
      Thank you sir.

      Reply
      • Thanks for sharing. I am glad you were blessed by this.

        In my garage is a pressure washer. It is one that I can no longer start and consequently do not use. It is no longer useful to me and is only occupying space at this time. And it is not alone. I own a number of things that at one time served a useful purpose in my life, but no longer do. They could well be useful to someone else, but not to me.

        Reply

Leave a Comment