Vol. 29 Num. 1
What are your aims in life? What are your real goals? When no one is listening, what do you say to yourself that your true desires are? What do you think of most, want most, long for most? Perhaps you are striving for financial security or professional achievement. Or yearning for a husband or wife or children. Or longing to be loved by your mate. Or wishing for a relationship with good communication. Or hoping to escape the shadows of past tragedies or present trials. Or aching for relief from pain. Or looking to become a better father or mother or child. I may not have touched on your particular objective or preoccupation, but you get the point -- you can fill in the blank.
Now none of these things is illegitimate in itself, but can any of them count among the “first things,” -- should any of them be our prime ambition? Is there something greater, something higher under which all these dreams are subsumed? You know the right answer because you’ve heard the Shorter Catechism tell you that “Man’s chief end is to glorify and enjoy God.” But is that your answer? Is that what you really think? And, more importantly, is that how you live? Is knowing God truly what you want? Do you want him more than anything else? Does this aim reflect itself in your priorities?
God made us to know him. This saving knowledge is the “eternal life” that Jesus gives: “This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). This then ought to be our prime aim in life: to know the triune God through Jesus Christ. Such an aim and such a knowledge will not mean that all your struggles disappear and that all your wishes are immediately realized, but as J. I. Packer has said: “Once you become aware that the main business that you are here for is to know God, most of life’s problems fall into place of their own accord.” It is my prayer that we will be, together, characterized by our mutual pursuit of the first thing.