We talked briefly last week at my New Members’ class, concerning the Shorter Westminster Catechism, and, specifically, its first question: What is the chief end of man? That is to say, what is the most important purpose of human beings? And the catechetical answer is, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”
I think I have spent much of my life and ministry in faith focused only on the first of those tasks. I endeavor to glorify God by my words, by my actions, by my treatment of neighbors, and I have preached the same rather thoroughly.
By contrast, in my secular life, I have focused on the enjoying bit. I have played video games, eaten good food, imbibed an excess of Dr. Pepper (not where you thought THAT was going, was it?), made it a point to buy warm and cozy slippers.
I think the problem there should be obvious – that I need to remember Who it is that I am called to enjoy. Easy for me, sipping my Dr. Pepper, to feel grateful to the Dr. Pepper/7 Up Company of Plano, TX, and not the God who crafted my taste buds.
On another note, in the post-modern era have stopped caring quite as much as once we did about purpose – the question in Westminster is a product of its time, certainly, but may not have so much applicability to post-modern American people as it did to early modern Northern Europeans. I struggle to think what the first question in a modern Christian catechism might be, a catechism for the 21st Century, in the post-Christian West. Maybe, “In whom is your identity found?”
Where would you start a 21st Century Catechism?