What is the Purpose of life? What is the meaning of life? So many people have never stopped to consider these important questions. They look back years later and wonder why they feel so empty, so alone even though they may have achieved what they set out to accomplish in life. An athlete who had reached the pinnacle of his sport was once asked what he wished someone would have told him when he first started playing his sport. He replied, “I wish that someone would have told me that when you reach the top, there’s nothing there.”
In our humanistic culture, people pursue many things, thinking that in them they will find meaning. Some of these pursuits include business success, wealth, good relationships, sex, entertainment, and doing good to others. People have testified that while they achieved their goals of wealth, relationships, and pleasure, there was still a deep void inside, a feeling of emptiness that nothing seemed to fill.
The author of the biblical book of Ecclesiastes describes this feeling when he says, “Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
King Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, had wealth beyond measure, wisdom beyond any man of his time or ours, hundreds of women, palaces and gardens that were the envy of kingdoms, the best food and wine, and every form of entertainment available. He said at one point, that anything his heart desired, his eyes saw, his ears heard, his senses yearned for, he attained. And yet when he came to sum it all up –“life under the sun” – was meaningless, vanity. As empty as a closet full of Armani suits Gucci shoes and Lux Millionaire suitcases.
Why is there such a void? It’s because God created us for something beyond what we can experience in the here-and-now. Solomon said of God, “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). In our hearts we are aware that the “here-and-now” is not “the end and all.”
In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, we find that God created mankind in His image (Genesis 1:26). This means that we are more like God than we are like anything else (any other life form). We also find that before mankind fell into sin and the curse of sin came upon the earth, the following things were true:
1) God made man a social creature (Genesis 2:18-25):
2) God made man to work (Genesis 2:15);
3) God made man to have fellowship with Himself (Genesis 3:8); and
4) God made man to have dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:26).
What is the significance of these things? God intended for each of these to add to our fulfillment in life, but all of these (especially man’s fellowship with God) were adversely affected by man’s fall into sin and the resulting curse upon the earth.
(Read Genesis 3)
In Revelation, the last book of the Bible, God reveals that He will destroy this present earth and heavens and usher in the eternal state by creating a new heaven and a new earth. At that time,
1. He will restore full fellowship with redeemed mankind, while the unredeemed will have been judged unworthy and cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).
2. The curse of sin will be done away with; there will be no more sin, sorrow, sickness, death, or pain (Revelation 21:4).
3. God will dwell with them, and they shall be His sons (Revelation 21:7).
Thus, we come full circle: God created us to have fellowship with Him, man sinned, breaking that fellowship, God restores that fellowship fully in the eternal state. To go through life achieving everything only to die separated from God for eternity would be worse than futile! But God has made a way to not only make eternal bliss possible (Luke 23:43) but also life on earth satisfying and meaningful. How is this eternal bliss and “heaven on earth” obtained?
Meaning Of Life Restored Through Jesus Christ
Real meaning in life, both now and in eternity, is found in the restoration of the relationship with God that was lost with Adam and Eve’s fall into sin. That relationship with God is only possible through His Son, Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 1:12; 14:6). Eternal life is gained when we repent of our sin (no longer want to continue in it) and Christ changes us, making of us new creations, and we rely on Jesus Christ as Savior.
Real meaning in life is found not only in accepting Jesus as Savior, as wonderful as that is. Rather, real meaning in life is when one begins to follow Christ as His disciple, learning of Him, spending time with Him in His Word, communing with Him in prayer, and in walking with Him in obedience to His commands. If you are not a Christian (or perhaps you are a new believer), you might be saying to yourself, “That does not sound very exciting or fulfilling to me!” But Jesus made the following statements:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10b). “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:24- 25). “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart ” Psalm 37:4).
All of these verses are telling us that we have a choice. We can continue to live for self which results in emptiness, or we can choose to live for God which brings contentment, fulfillment. The Christian life is not always the easiest but in the long run it is the most fulfilling.
I was reading recently about Elvis Presley whom some people consider was the greatest entertainer of all time. He was so famous that 25 years after his death one of his albums was the Number One hit in the nation. If you have ever been one of his fans you know that behind that million-dollar smile there was a very unhappy man, a very unfulfilled man.
His wife Priscilla who gave an interview sometime after his death said this about her husband who died of obesity and drug dependency at age 42. “Elvis never came to terms with who he was meant to be or what his purpose in life was. He thought he was here for a reason, maybe to preach, maybe to serve, maybe to save, maybe to care for people and that agonizing desire was always with him and he knew he wasn’t fulfilling it. So he would go on stage and he wouldn’t have to think about it.” Elvis was like a man lost at sea, wanting to be saved but not knowing which direction to turn and hoping that someone would just find him. Personally, I think he found the Lord at the very end of his life.
But life does not have to be that way.
I like the way the old Presbyterian Catechism puts it,
Question: “What is the chief end of man ?”
Answer: “The chief end of man is to love God and enjoy Him forever.”
He is only a Prayer away!
Pastor Robert Bryant