Because I am a spiritual fanatic (not a religious one), the issue I’ve been thinking recently is really about why you (and me) are on this planet in this solar system in this particular universe. It’s what I call the “big” question. I’m retired and have been thinking about that question a long time. Is it possible we’re here for a purpose larger than just to be “us?” If so, what is that purpose?
I admit I’m “Bible” based, so my orientation is the “creation” stories in the Bible. The first story (Genesis 1:1-2:3) is the story about God creating the world and the second (Genesis 2-3:24) is about the human response to God’s creation. They are not the same story. Please read the first story if you haven’t recently so you’ll know where my thinking about “why we are here” began. I’m ignoring the second creation story in this article.
The first story emphasizes that this universe in which we live is not an accident. It was created by God for a definite purpose, and it was made by God, and God declares “everything is good.” There was nothing in all of “our” planet that isn’t good, including every created item, not only the living stuff but the waters, sky, stars we see, sun, moon, and so forth.
And then God makes us humans “in the image of God.” When that happens, God declares everything is “very good.”
This creation story makes very clear that we have the responsibility for maintaining all of God’s creation, from the smallest to the largest of everything on this planet.
Because we are in the “image of God,” we also received from God the power to create. That power not only includes babies; it also includes using what God gave us to create things. If you don’t believe we have that power, think a little on where all those things we have come from, such as cars, phones, pencils, computers, guns, etc. In other words all the “new” stuff we have in this 21st century that weren’t around in the 19th century. We use the power God gave us in creation to create what we need and want.
God first suggested 10 rules to be our guide in how to live on this planet, and in the old Testament there eventually, with religious leaders’ help, turned out to be a lot of them. These rules slowly ended up suggesting “do the right thing, and you’ll get loved by God.” I don’t think trying to live by the rules worked out too well. Eventually animals get “sacrificed,” so we humans could “earn” our way back into God’s good graces. Pleasing God somehow ended up killing animals. We became a people where caring for God’s creation became following the ‘right’ rules and making animal “sacrifices.”
So God sent Jesus to show us how to care for this creation in a way that did away with judging in a “right” way and sacrifices. He brought a new criteria for following God.
In his life story, Jesus only judged people who thought they were less of a sinner than other people, as well as the people who tried to make money who were implying you can purchase with money the right “way” to get God’s approval and forgiveness (the temple story). A lack of violence was obvious in his life.
Jesus really came to reveal God’s real presence. Jesus lived that God cared deeply for people and for God’s creation. He healed people, fed many people somehow (feeding 5,000-plus women and children in one story), broke the religious rules when caring for people was more important (like feeding his disciples on the Sabbath) and basically just loving people and God’s creation.
He finally showed that it was better to die than to use violence as a power in God’s creation. He willingly faced Crucifixion, one of the most painful ways to die humans have ever developed. To demonstrate that God’s love and care can never be removed from the world, a transformed (resurrected) Jesus came back to show clearly to all his disciples that God’s power to love was greater than our power to kill and his disciples did not fear death at all.
Could it possibly be that we are to make God’s love as shown in the creation story and in Jesus life our reason for being here? Jesus made very clear by his life and willingness to die how powerful God’s love really is. I suspect that is why we are here, to discover and share God’s love. Quite honestly, rules really didn’t and never will work. St. Paul’s letters, the earliest writings in the Bible, make that very clear (Galatians 3:23-26).
The only purpose for our journey on this planet, I am convinced, is to learn to share God’s love. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Michael Curry, has written, “If it’s not about Love, it’s not about God.” (1 John 4:7-8)
Somehow, we always thought following God was to be right? Is it an amazing idea that instead of trying all our lives to be right, we are really supposed to be loving the way God does? Simply trying to follow the example that Jesus came to share by the way he loved? Could that really be the reason we are here on this planet?
Could our purpose here simply be to realize that Jesus “Kingdom of God” is simply about loving?
The Rev. Gene R. Anderson is supply priest at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Martinsville.