What is the ultimate goal of Christianity?
Some Christians look at their faith as the means to attain eternal salvation or to achieve personal happiness and security. Others see Christianity as Jesus’s instructions to live a better life or become a better or more loving person. Still others link the ultimate goal of their faith to the advancement of God’s kingdom, making disciples by preaching the Gospel. But if we examine Scripture in its entirety, I believe we would find that the ultimate goal or “endgame” of Christianity is the very presence of God.
This is intimated when God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah of the establishment of a new covenant. It says in Jeremiah 31:33-34, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” In this promise, God specifically identifies this future covenant as being different from the old covenant. The idea of: “They shall be my people, and I shall be their God,” repeated several times in Scripture, lies at the heart of the difference between the old and new covenants, because only in the new covenant does God accomplish this goal. It was always God’s original intention to annul that which was old, weak and useless, as these were mere shadows to direct us to the substance to which they point.
In this text, the author of Hebrews employs the word “perfect” to describe nearness to God. The fullest expression of the Christian faith then is not found in what we do or even how we do it, but in our nearness to God which we find at the throne of grace. This is something that the Law and Levitical priesthood could never grant, as it was weak and insufficient. But God always had the intention of doing away with these temporary means and fulfilling them once and for all in His Son, our great high priest, who is greater than Levi, greater than Aaron, and greater than the Law!
We often live our Christian lives as if our endgame is found in our Christian walk, when in fact that is merely the means to a far greater end. Yes, love, repentance, forgiveness, sanctification, growth in grace and obedience, are all important factors as we live our Christian lives on earth; but they are only so as they prepare us for God’s presence forever. Even the application section of a sermon is not merely for you to obey God or live a better life, but so that you would become conformed to the image of Christ until the day when you are made like Him and see Him face to face.