Why God Created Us

The question of why God created us felt as unanswerable as “Can God make a rock so big He can’t lift it?”
on Nov 26, 2013 · No comments

Answer to LifeI recently received an answer to a question I’ve had most of my life. The stock answers had never satisfied me.

When I was a teen, I watched my parents go through a predictable routine. Get up, go to work, come home, eat, watch TV, go to bed. Wash, rinse, repeat. Only punctuated by rare vacations or trips to visit relatives. It felt so pointless. I wanted my life to mean something.

We tend to derive meaning from our accomplishments and/or our relationships. While those fulfill a practical sense of self-worth, they are fleeting. My fulfillment becomes its own circular purpose.

Like Solomon discovered in Ecclesiastes, all is vanity. They don’t give us a real purpose and fulfillment. I’d spent my life moving toward a goal that I felt was important, but when I arrived, it didn’t quell the feeling of “there’s got to be more” ringing in my heart.

Solomon’s conclusion?

This is the end of the matter; all hath been heard: fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecc 12:13 ASV)

Honestly, I never liked that answer. Maybe because it sounded so “works based.” Maybe because it felt like he said, “After all my seeking, this is what’s left. I can’t come up with anything better.”

I didn’t realize then how accurate Solomon’s words were.

For the Christian, however, he did highlight the source of what would ultimately give life meaning: God. For me it boiled down to one seemingly unanswerable question:

God, why did you create me and this world?

Why was it unanswerable? Because by definition God has no need of anything. He is complete within Himself. What possible motivation could God have to create the universe and mankind if He didn’t in some form or fashion need us? If there is no need within God to create us, then there is no purpose to our existence.

The question of why God created us felt as unanswerable as “Can God make a rock so big He can’t lift it?”

For example, some would suggest God created us so He could be loved. That assumes He has a need to be loved. That He’s lonely. It assumes that the shared love of the Trinity isn’t enough for Him.

Another popular answer is we were created to glorify Him. We see this when someone says their purpose in writing Christian fiction is to glorify God. There again this would imply that God created us because He needs to have someone singing His praises.

Am I saying that loving God and giving Him glory are pointless? No. Yet, if He has no real need, then there can be no real purpose to my life. All is vanity. Obeying God is still vanity if there is no point to it.

On a whim recently, I did an internet search for “Why did God create man?” I didn’t expect much. I figured I’d get the above answers, which the first two links did give me. Or I’d get the answer “42”. But then I stumbled across an article that turned on a light.

In the great love chapter, the Apostle Paul says that true love “does not seek its own.” This means that love is not selfish or self-centered. God did not keep His life and love to Himself, but He shared it. He breathed into man the breath of life, and man became a living soul. God created humanity because “He is love,” not for what humanity could do for Him.

I know nothing about the organization who wrote that article. They could be flaming heretics for all I know. But on this point, they helped me connect the dots.

God, being perfect love, wanted to share that love because He is not selfish. He didn’t need to create us to be fulfilled or complete within Himself. However, because He is perfect love, He desired to share that love.

Meaning for my life is gained by participating in His love.

That is why the greatest commandment is to love God with all our being. For that and the second related to it sum up the whole point of the Law. Then we’re back to Solomon’s conclusion. Our meaning and purpose is to obey God.

As Jesus pointed out, if we love Him, we’ll obey Him. If we obey Him, it shows that we love Him. (John 14:15; 15:10) Solomon’s point is that we find meaning in loving God by obeying Him.

We don’t do the commandments to save ourselves, but to participate in and share His love.

That is what we are created to do. That is why I write fiction and non-fiction. Sure, it should glorify God. But that isn’t the foundational reason I write it. Or read it. Or have children. Or—fill in the blank. I do it all to share in His love.

I have something great to be thankful for this coming Thursday: for God so loved us that He gave us life, then when we threw it away, He gave of His life to give it to us again through Christ.

What truths have you discovered about meaning in your life?

As a young teen, R. L. Copple played in his own make-believe world, writing the stories and drawing the art for his own comics while experiencing the worlds of other authors like Tolkien, Lewis, Asimov, and Lester Del Ray. As an adult, after years of writing devotionally, he returned to the passion of his youth in order to combine his fantasy worlds and faith into the reality of the printed page. Since then, his imagination has given birth to The Reality Chronicles trilogy from Splashdown Books, and The Virtual Chronicles series, Ethereal Worlds Anthology, and How to Make an Ebook: Using Free Software from Ethereal Press, along with numerous short stories in various magazines.Learn more about R. L and his work at any of the following:Author Website, Author Blog, or Author Store.
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  1. Good thoughts! As the creatures around the throne say in Rev. 4:11: “thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” As you point out, giving/sharing love gives pleasure, and God created us for the pleasure of loving us. Boggling!

    I didn’t plan it this way, but your post leads nicely into mine tomorrow.

    • bainespal says:

      As you point out, giving/sharing love gives pleasure, and God created us for the pleasure of loving us.

      I disagree. Giving and sharing love more often brings pain than pleasure. Equating pleasure with love is what leads to premarital sex and all that. Real love is miserable and not romantic. Love demands loyalty and cold-hard duty no matter what you may feel. That often brings pain.

      • R. L. Copple says:

        I think this is true only in that we are fallen creatures living in a fallen world. Within God Himself, pleasure does not equate to fulling a passion, a driving need to do this or that, but arises from who He is. Perfect selflessness in love. Not tainted by our fallen view of pleasure. Whatever pain God experiences results from the fall, not love itself. And the same could be said about us as well.

      • notleia says:

        Jeez, then what’s the point if love is miserable and a cold-hard duty? Then again…being alone is its own pain.

        I’m not sure how much I want to share this with the Internet, but I’ve just recently gone through a lot of romantic-relationship turmoil. It’s taken me weeks of anti-depressants and some therapy to even begin accepting that it’s probably better that we split up, despite six years of being together, than struggling with some incompatibilities that would only worsen and come to a head if we lived together. But a lot of it was good. Otherwise it wouldn’t hurt so much. It was easy to wish it hadn’t been as good as it was so it wouldn’t hurt so much. But he wasn’t happy. He’d been in denial about our incompatibilities — I was some combination of oblivious and in denial even after he brought up his concerns. But he couldn’t face our love becoming miserable, cold duty. I have had to admit that that was a real possibility and that I wouldn’t want it, either. But there are plenty of moments that it’s easy to question whether this pain I feel now is worth the hazy chance of some future, better relationship.

        • Literaturelady says:

          I’m so sorry you’re going through that, Notleia. I pray that you will heal from the pain soon.


        • bainespal says:

          Jeez, then what’s the point if love is miserable and a cold-hard duty?

          I don’t know. But then, the only kind of love that I personally understand is sacrificial love — someone dying, either literally or in the many possible metaphorical ways, for his or her friend. Any other definition of love confuses me.

          “Death is lighter than a feather, and duty is heavier than a mountain.” — my favorite quote, which I believe originated in ancient China and was appropriated by Robert Jordan in The Wheel of Time. That quote has spoken to me ever more deeply as I have pondered it. It suggests that the only escape from duty is death. Maybe the paradox is that duty is a kind of death. The escape from being crushed to death by duty is to surrender and die. But how do we do that? What is the right way to die? Is love the good death that brings freedom?

    • mflabar says:

      I’m not sure it matters, but some modern translations don’t render this as “for your pleasure,” but “by Your will.” See here for several translations, including the KJV:

  2. bainespal says:

    God, being perfect love, wanted to share that love because He is not selfish. He didn’t need to create us to be fulfilled or complete within Himself. However, because He is perfect love, He desired to share that love.

    That brings to mind an image I had — God cutting himself and bleeding at the creation of the universe. I imagine the universe being born out of the drops of God’s blood.

    Of course, I don’t take that image seriously. But if God is perfection, creating the possibility of imperfection in order to share love with other beings would have been a sort of a death for God. Not that God is dead, because God can’t stay dead — when He sacrifices Himself, He is always reborn along with those He sacrificed to create or to re-create.

    • Were that the whole truth, God would be a masochist, would He not?

      But where in scripture does God describe Himself that way? Where is God’s love ever about the pain and suffering it requires? When Israel “adorned herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers and forgot [the Lord],” (Hos. 2:13) does God say, “Behold, I shall beat My breast and put on sackcloth and ashes and have Myself flayed alive and crucified for the sake of love”? Not at all. Instead, He focuses on the endgame:

      “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.” (Hos. 2:14-20)

      Yes, God’s courtship required His suffering and death. His bride is bought with a price. But the price was never the point. The price is a means, not an end. The end — God’s motivation, the point of it all — is pleasure. Pure, sweet, absolute, overwhelming pleasure. Why did Christ endure the cross? For the joy that was set before Him, despite its shame. (Heb. 12:2) Though the shame was necessary on our behalf, it’s never the reason God cites for His sacrifice. Pain, though — as you say — a crucial component of love on this Earth, is only temporary. For those who’ve partaken of Christ’s pain, Joy is eternal. (Phil. 3:10-11) Pain characterizes Act II. Joy culminates Act III.

      And God plays for the endgame. He sees the whole story. He is the Storyteller, after all.

    • As Yvonne notes above:

      As the creatures around the throne say in Rev. 4:11: “thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”

      Christ also obeyed the Father and fulfilled the Godhead’s plan for the joy set before Him (Heb. 12: 1-2).

      Even “cross-centered” Christian materials may miss this point. To be sure, we will always remember the Cross. Christ’s death must not be minimized. but even Christ’s great sacrifice was a means to the greatest end of God’s own love/glory/pleasure, overflowing to be shared with His undeserving yet exultant creation.

      Desiring God Ministries has some of the best materials about the “chief end” for which God created anything. In one sense, “because He is love” only approaches the Ultimate Answer. I’m certain we’ll spend eternity only further approaching that asymptotic Mystery. Yet for now, the definition of God’s glory helps us to approach it now — and it clarifies, not upends, the “because He is love” answer.

      Search “Christian Hedonism” for more.

      • R. L. Copple says:

        I see God’s glory as a result of who He is and what He’s done. Since we, His creation, play into that, giving Him glory arises both from acknowledging the truth of the situation (good analogy being the potter and the clay) and sharing in His love. Those who do not recognize either are not giving God glory either in word or deed.

        But from God’s perspective, He desires glory, that is, acknowledgement of who He is and what He’s done, because it reflects the truth, not from a need to receive glory or praise. But that arises because He created, not the reason why He created.

        In that, I see obedience and glory as closely linked. We glorify Him because of His love and our sharing in that love. As such, like obedience, glorifying Him is one way we express our love back to Him. In that sense, it becomes part of our purpose, but a purpose based within the ultimate purpose of love.

        To paraphrase, “If you glorify Me, it shows that you love Me. If you love Me, you will glorify Me.”

        In that same dynamic, Obedience is also one of our purposes to exist, as Solomon defined. But both are there because of God’s love.

        It’s all so interesting. But the foundational point is that God created because of who He is, not because of a lack in Himself. Glorifying Him and obedience to Him may show our love to God, and thus factor into why we focus on them as means to share in His love, but they cannot be the basis for why God created us and the world. For then we’d have to admit that God’s nature includes the need to have someone to give Him glory and obedience.

        Selfless love, however, not only acknowledges the truth of God’s character, but provides for God’s motivation not out of need but by who He is. Which is also glorifying Him. 🙂

        I’ll be out of pocket until sometime this evening. Pesky real life work! 😉

        • notleia says:

          Very Perelandran, the connection between obedience and glory, but it’s one of the things that I don’t necessarily agree about with Lewis, though I don’t think Lewis had the emotional and/or cultural baggage that a lot of women have with the word “obedience.” I’m just not a fan of the power struggle that’s pretty much inherent in authority/obedience systems (or to phrase it another way, domination/submission systems). I guess that’s one reason why the happy-rainbow-hugging-Jesus denominations have begun to look appealing to me.

          • R. L. Copple says:

            Two notes. One, we are talking about God, not man. I can understand some resistance to obedience to a human, especially if one has been hurt by such, but certainly we don’t classify God in the same category.

            Two, those are the words of Jesus. Don’t know how the groups you mention get around that to jetison any form of accountability, but I’d be leery of anyone that tried of being true to God’s Word to do so.

            Three, bonus point, most people don’t understand obedience correctly. Or humility for that matter, as it relates to each other. Yes, for a lot of people the word does carry a lot of unnecessary baggage, due to inappropriate implementation of what Scripture was talking about.

            Now, I must go obey my wife who says I should be busy packing for our trip we’re headed out on tomorrow. 🙂

What do you think?