Written by Cara Brock
Lately, the Lord has been speaking to me about life. And perhaps not just me, as the topic seems to be popping up all over the place, but He is showing me how it all connects.
This past week has easily been one of the most devastating weeks of my, and countless others’ lives. On September 29th, we lost a leader, friend, brother, and son. Kendall Wernet is the brother of my best friend Kaitlin. I say is because, though he has passed, he was, is, and will continue to be her incredible younger brother and dearest friend. Kendall lived his 20 years with the most amazing dedication and purpose that I have ever personally witnessed. He worked hard at all he did, tried things just because they were a challenge, and devoted his time and energy to selflessly help others. In conversation he was the easiest to talk to. He smiled genuinely and his kind eyes told me that he fully cared about what I had to say. He would never think to hold back his laughter, and he never needed to force it out either. Kendall knew he wanted to have a significant impact in his time on Earth, and he made sure it happened. He touched every person he knew, and probably many he hadn’t yet met. Though the greatest relationship Kendall has is his with Jesus. During his years here, Kendall continued to grow in his knowledge and understanding of who Jesus is. I believe he wanted to serve the Lord and live the life God gave him in the best way he could.
I contrast this, not as a comparison of character, but to acknowledge a difference in perspective of purpose, with the story of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard. Her story has gone viral as one of “inspiration” and “dignity.” Brittany suffers from terminal cancer and plans to end her life with physician-assisted suicide, as she wants to die “on [her] own terms.” People applaud her “bravery” for taking her death into her own hands; for prematurely ending her suffering and the suffering of those around her. Now, I am deeply saddened by her circumstances and I cannot imagine the darkness and the pain she feels. I just wish she were not making this choice, and that we were not praising her for it. To me, true bravery would be facing the disease and living on until the Lord’s designated last day for her. I wish she would use this time to be a witness to His greatness rather than cutting short the time during which He could use her. I know those closest to her would love to have her around as long as they can.
So considering these two precious lives, I begin to wonder, why do we even live at all? Acknowledging and accepting that this was God’s plan all along, I ask still, why? Why didn’t the Lord just make us already fellowshipping with Him in Heaven? With this line of thought I could really dig deeper and deeper and get caught in a confusing circular mess. So I’ll stop at the basic “why did God make us to live on Earth” and explore what may be just a few of His, I’m sure countless, reasons.
God wants us to choose Him
God gave us free will. Though He knows all that we will do, He allows us to make choices. Though this concept isn’t something I can totally wrap my brain around, I don’t need to – He’s got it all worked out. He could have made us to automatically worship Him, but I believe He wants us to genuinely want to. God delights more in when we come to Him through our own desire than if He were to make us mindlessly do so. I think this allows us to better understand and appreciate Him. Dennis Aglosolos, the Director of Living Waters – Asia, makes two awesome points:
Now here’s a question… If you’re God, will you derive pleasure from the “love” your created gives you if in the first place, you have programmed them like robots to give you love (they have no choice but to love you)? I believe that you’ll agree that “love” that’s not freely given is not true love.
God had to give man a free will so that He can experience true love from His created so that pleasure is achieved. He wanted man to love Him willingly. Free will allows man to love God willingly. That’s why God gave us free will. Not doing so goes against reason. God is a logical Person that’s why He saw it right to give man the freedom to choose for himself and He hoped that we’d use it to give Him pleasure.
We long to praise God because of who He is and what He does, not because we have no choice in the matter. Life on Earth brings hardships and joys that direct us to Him.
Because we need Jesus
Most important is Jesus. Jesus is the center of Christianity. Our salvation depends solely upon our belief in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. God sent Jesus to Earth to forgive us of our sins. Sure, if we were created in sinless Heaven, we would have had no need for the Resurrection. Here we risk falling into circular questioning, so to get to the point, here’s a quote from Matt Slick’s sermon notes:
This fellowship with God the Father MUST be through God the Son: Jesus. There is no other way. You HAVE to go through Jesus. You cannot make yourself right before God by what you do, by what you think, or by being sincere… You can only be right before God by trusting in what Jesus did on the cross–by the sacrifice of Himself so you could be forgiven of your sins… and then be able to be with God forever.
Simply, we can’t fellowship with God until we are sanctified through Jesus. I’ll also note another solid point made by Aglosolos: “Shouldn’t have God just sacrificed His desire to experience true love from His created so that no one goes to Hell? I believe that God could have chosen to do that… IF He had no power to use evil to bring out good.” By creating us on Earth on which we are prone to sin, he allowed us to be around and experience evil. Though He uses this evil to draw us to Him. This evil is the reason He sent Jesus to die so that we may have life. I confess that the times I feel truly closest to God is when He is refining me with fire or when I am experiencing deep sorrow. During these times, I am particularly grateful for Christ’s salvation and sovereignty.
To bring others to Jesus
Having established that we are here because God wants us to choose Him and so that we would have need for Jesus, we are also living to expand the Kingdom. We are commissioned to love one another and to make disciples. It’s like a logic problem – because A and B, then C. Because we decide to love the Lord and because Jesus absolved our sins, then we are to add to our numbers. God wants a massive flock of worshippers, children, and friends, and He wants us to help build it. We must use our time here on Earth to lead our peers to the light of the Lord. Remember that “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
Let us be grateful that God created us on Earth and allowed us to really live here. John 1:4 states “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Through living we experience joys that lead us to Him, fellowship that leads us to Him, suffering that leads us to Him. We are so blessed that God created us the way He did – that shows just how loving He is. Though Kendall’s life was short, I know he loved the time he was given. He did as God had hoped and chose to love and follow Him. Though we would love for him to be here now, we can know that we will see him again when the Lord calls us all Home. As for Brittany, while she still has time, I pray that she sees the value in the life God purposely gave her. I pray that she doesn’t shorten her deliberate time on Earth; that she would use it to grow in the Lord and to expand the Kingdom.
I’ll leave you with a point and scripture from my pastor Matt Broadway’s most recent sermon:
Believe in Jesus, follow him and live. Receive Ephesians 2:4-10 resurrection:
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
For further reading:
Matt Slick’s “1 Corinthians 1:9, Why did God make you?”
Matt Broadway’s “Seeing the Light”