On the sixth day of creation, God did something He had not done before. When He created the world and everything in it, He merely spoke it all into existence (Genesis 1). But on the sixth day, He reached down into the clay and formed a man. He then “breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). The breath of God created an eternal soul in the man. God made mankind in His own image; that is, Adam and Eve were more like Him than anything else He had created (Genesis 1:27). Humans would live forever, just as God will. He told the first couple to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it (verse 28). He had created them for a purpose, and all the people that came after them were created for a purpose, too.
Scattered throughout the Bible are hints about the reasons God made us. Our first hint is in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 2:15 says that God took the man He had created and put him in the garden to tend it. God had created a caretaker for His earth. He gave man dominion over everything else and gave him a job to do (Genesis 1:28). Man’s first job was naming all the animals (Genesis 2:19–20). God could have named the animals Himself, but He enjoyed working with Adam the way a loving parent enjoys watching her preschooler learn a skill. So we were created for work, but not work in the way we usually define it. Work was designed to be a fulfilling way we experience God by working in harmony with Him to accomplish His goals.
We know from Psalm 139:13–16 that we were each formed by God while inside our mothers. We are His masterpieces, created by Him for unique purposes (Ephesians 2:10). God is intimately involved in our creation: “The word of the LORD came to me, saying: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I set you apart and appointed you a prophet to the nations’” (Jeremiah 1:4–5). That statement alone should overwhelm us with wonder. The Lord God Almighty, Creator of the universe, chooses us individually and then creates us exactly as He wants us to be. Scripture is clear that every human being was created by God for His pleasure and His purpose (Colossians 1:16).
If we are going to fulfill our purpose, we need to consult the Bible. The Bible tells us about who God is, who we are, and how we should live our lives. Many people try to find purpose in happiness, fun, or popularity because they are unaware that God has greater purpose for their lives. Sadly they end up empty and frustrated. But they don't need to. God has given us His Word (the Bible) so that we could learn who He is and who we are. When we consult it for direction, we have opened the roadmap that leads to our purpose.
One thing we learn is that God loves us and proved that love by sending His Son, Jesus, to show us what He is like (John 14:9). Although God loves us, our sin has separated us from Him (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Jesus came to earth and offered Himself in our place. He took the punishment our sin deserves (2 Corinthians 5:21). God raised Him from the dead three days later, proving that Jesus is Lord over everything, including death (Romans 10:9–10). Then God decreed that everyone who places faith in Jesus will be forgiven and enter a relationship with Him (John 3:16–18). So God’s first desire for every human being is that we come to know Him through faith in His Son. When we know who He is, we can discover who we are.
God’s goal for each of His children is that we take on a family resemblance. He wants us to be like Jesus (Romans 8:29). So He gives us spiritual gifts that enable us to serve Him in supernatural ways (1 Peter 4:10; 1 Corinthians 12:7–11). As we learn to walk in harmony with God and use our gifts to serve others, we are living our purpose.
God created us for a purpose, but that purpose will look different for every person because we are each unique. To be created in the image of God means that we were created to be mirrors of God’s glory—one-of-a-kind mirrors that reflect the diverse aspects of His nature. A mirror serves no other purpose than to reflect something else. A mirror is useless when covered in mud; likewise, when we are covered in sin and turned away from God, we are not living out the purpose for which we were created. But when we respond to God’s offer of salvation and allow His Holy Spirit to clean us up, we turn toward our Creator, and His glory is reflected in our lives. It is not our light or beauty the world needs to see, but His (John 8:12; 9:5).
Micah 6:8 tells us what God expects from us: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” God created us to walk with Him, talk with Him, discover His attributes, and bless the world from that perspective. To act justly is to hold ourselves to a higher standard than our old sin natures followed (1 Corinthians 10:31). We seek to learn God’s commands so we can obey them. To love mercy is to become channels of the same mercy and grace that rescued us (Titus 3:5). We offer forgiveness to those who offend us and leave final judgment to God (1 Corinthians 4:5). We walk humbly with our God when we stay close to Him in good times and bad, thanking Him for every good gift and running to Him when we feel threatened (1 Thessalonians 5:18; Proverbs 18:10). When we walk humbly with our God, we store up treasure in heaven as we seek to know and follow His will. By living our lives on earth for His glory, we can one day step into His presence knowing that we have fulfilled the purpose for which He created us (1 Timothy 6:18–19; Matthew 6:20; Luke 19:17).