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The key and central motivation for studying Lie groups and their Lie algebras appears to be to characterize symmetry in Lagrangian mechanics through Noether's theorem, just start from there.
Notably local symmetries appear to map to forces, and local means "around the identity", notably: local symmetries of the Lagrangian imply conserved currents.
The fact that there are elements arbitrarily close to the identity, which is only possible due to the group being continuous, is the key factor that simplifies the treatment of Lie groups, and follows the philosophy of continuous problems are simpler than discrete ones.