In an attempt to focus my ministry to graduate students, I am attempting to put down on paper the end of my ministry. This is my attempt to answer the question, “If everything went perfectly according to my plans and my desires, what would the outcome be in the lives of the people to whom I minister?”
This is not my attempt to prescribe a formula for Christian growth. I have no wish to sound as though the life of faith is little more than fixed progression along a continuum of spiritual growth. Most lives, mine included, are much more mucky and meandering than that. However, as a minister I am forced to ask questions about who I am to be and what I am to do in order to be faithful to God. The answer to this question, or so it seems to me, can come through describing the end at which I am aiming. Christian growth is more about ends than about means, and the ends are more important than the means.
So what are the ends of the Christian life? To simply affirm that, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever” (WSC Q1) seems to me to be rather minimalistic. It’s good as far as it goes, but the problem is that it doesn’t go far enough. If I am to be faithful in my ministry I need to ask some secondary questions; ones that follow-up and amplify the initial question posed by the writers of the catechism.
So, what does a God-enjoying and God-glorifying Christian (metaphorically) look like? By that I mean, what are the observable qualities of life found in such a believer? They are several.
Some preliminary points
• God is at the center of the life of a God-enjoying and God-glorifying Christian. If God stands in the periphery of one’s life, one cannot be enjoying God. This is only common sense. People we enjoy and things we find pleasure in usually will gravitate toward the center of our lives. The realization that we are enjoying something may be gradual, but once there is recognition, that person or thing will not be very far from the center of one’s life.
• More than that, a God-enjoying and God-glorifying life is one that is lived in a God-ward stance. Once we find the joy of God, we cannot be without them. We will run, seek, long for the presence of God. In other words, the type of Christian life I am describing is not passive, but very active in the pursuit of God.
When I write about the qualities of life (above) that mark this type of Christian, I am in reality attempting to flesh out the ways in which these sorts of believers will pursue God in order that they may find pleasure in God’s love and in God himself, and that they may ascribe glory to the Sovereign God.
We call the ways in which Christians pursue God, the means of grace. Means of grace are the vehicles that spiritually confer to the participating believer some measure of God’s grace for the purpose of encouraging the believer in his faith journey, assuring him of his acceptance by God because of the work of Christ, and equipping that believer with spiritual gifts that are to be used to strengthen body of Christ.
[NOTE: There is more to come. I am just getting started.]