When we look back over life at its end, what will we say has really mattered? As we face each new day now, what deserves our greatest attention and commitments of time and energy? We might respond to both questions by saying, “our Christian faith,” but what does that really mean? What does God most want from you as a human being redeemed by Jesus? What does the earthly life look like which best brings joy to God and satisfaction to us? As we have seen already, it is not merely a benevolent or charitable life. Church meetings and religious activity cannot give ultimate meaning. Diligent Bible study does not assure God’s approval or fulfillment as a human being. As good and important as all these things are, none of them is the essence of our existence on this earth.
That essence is found, I suggest, in what the Reformers called a life coram Deo — literally a life lived “before the face of God.” This was how God created humans to live from the beginning. The Creator formed us from elements of the earth and endowed us with breath of life. We are mortal beings made in God’s image, created to live in joyful and fulfilling relationship with our Maker. When we remember what we are, to whom we owe our existence and the reason for which we are made, life is very good. We know, more surely than we know anything else, that God is great and God is good. God is as near as our very breath; he loves us and we are safe in his presence and love. That sense of creaturely dependence generates gratitude, humility and praise. This is life as God intended it. It is life as it once existed in Paradise. It was human life before the entrance of sin.