What is the purpose of the Christian life?
In previous posts I have argued that the goal of the Christian life is to grow in the likeness of Christ. Now, I wish to address the question: what is the purpose of the Christian life?
I am going to make a statement that may very well sound blasphemous. I assure you that it is not. So, before you cease reading, please allow me to clarify. The statement is: “Jesus did not finish the job.” Granted, this sounds extremely blasphemous; downright heretical. Nevermind my plea for clarity. You should stop reading this blog. Clearly I do not hold to an acceptable theological position. Before you do that (I hope it is not too late. Though if you are reading this sentence, I guess it is not), allow me to clarify.
The reason why this statement looks blasphemous is that for most Christians “the job” that Jesus came to do is usually limited to: atoning for sin, defeating death, inaugurating the resurrection, and providing for the forgiveness of sins. If this is all that is meant by “the job,” then, of course, Jesus finished the job.
But, what if “the job” extended beyond these? After all, if “the job” was only to die and rise again, then why did Jesus minister for three and a half years? Why didn’t He just get baptized, go to Jerusalem, and die? Or, better yet, just go to Jerusalem and die? And why do the gospels make so much of the life and ministry of Jesus?
Now, I suspect that some might respond here by saying that the life and deeds of Jesus serve as a model for us. We should be kind like He was. We should love our enemies like he did. We should pray often like he did. These are fine suggestions. Surely, as we have seen, there is a call to imitate Jesus.
The NT writers intimately connected the ministry of Jesus to the coming of the kingdom. In other words, according to the NT the totality of the life and ministry of Jesus, as well as his death, resurrection, and ascension, and the coming of the Spirit, mark the beginning of the kingdom of God, or the New Creation.
What is essential for us grasp, both in regards to understanding the NT and the purpose of the Christian life is that in Christ the new creation has begun, but it does not end with Jesus!
The purpose of the Christian life and the call of God’s people, then, is to carry forth the work of Christ. Consequently, in order for us to understand our mission as the church, we must understand the mission of Jesus—which I will elaborate on in the next post!