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What is the purpose of life?

There are three possible answers to this question:

There are three possible answers to this question:
  • Life has no purpose
    Many 20th century thinkers came to this conclusion e.g. Jean Paul Sartre. In which case anything goes. We have no reason to prefer one lifestyle over another or form of behaviour over another. If someone want to give purpose to their lives by helping people and others purpose by killing them, who is to say that one is ‘better’ than another?

  • We create our own purpose
    In the short term this is what most of us do, sometimes unthinkingly. We live for pleasure, the family, the career, our nation or whatever, often by simply adopting the values and ideas of those around us. But is this right? If life has no intrinsic given purpose - why not choose violence over love?

  • Purpose is God-given
    This is the position of the Bible. He is our Creator (Revelation 4:11). We were made to know him and serve him, happily living under his loving rule (Genesis 1 and 2). In short,we were made to have friendship with God. The value and significance we gain from our relationships with each other (as father, son, mother, daughter, brother, sister, husband, wife, friend) may well be an echo of the ultimate relationship we were meant to have with God.

What is the problem?

But if this is the case, how come most of us don’t know have that friendship with God now? He seems at best at a distance, at worst an irrelevance.

The problem does not lie on God’s side, but our side. We have destroyed that friendship by turning away from him and seeking value in lesser things. We do this by nature and by choice:

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. ... They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen.
Romans 1:21-25

This is the essence of ‘sin’-turning our backs on God. The result is that instead of us being his friends, we become the enemies of the rightful ruler of the universe.

What is the solution?

God has taken the intiative to mend the relationship. This is what the coming of Jesus, his death on the cross, his resurrection and heavenly rule is all about.

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Romans 5:8-10

When the vertical relationship with God is put right, then our horizontal relationships with each other begin to be sorted as well.

Jesus put the purpose of life (which results in eternal life) in this way:

Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
John 17:3

The gap between ourselves and God is too great to bridge because of our size, and too blocked because of our sin. The initiative has to come from God’s side, and this is the Good News of the Christian faith. Friendship with God is now possible because God has made it possible through his Son. The gap is bridged because the infinite God became a finite man. The pathway has been cleared because on the cross Jesus took upon himself the penalty for our sin-removing it once and for all. He is alive and reigns from heaven and so can be known personally by His Spirit whom he sends to all those who cast themselves upon his mercy. This same Spirit opens our minds so that as we read the Bible, its pages become alive and God speaks to us. Slowly, but surely our lives change-our values become different, brought more and more in line with God’s and the whole world looks different as we see things differently-properly-as God sees things.You become ‘born again’.

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
1 Peter 1:18-23

All these questions and answers lead to this point: the need to personally respond to the Christian message as truth.It means coming to God, one-to-one .Talking to him (prayer), asking him to forgive you and accept you as a friend, not because of anything you have done or promise to do, but because of what he has done through His Son Jesus. Your eternal destiny depends upon this. Miss this and you miss out on the purpose of life.

"Dear God,
I know that I am not worthy to be accepted by you.I don’t deserve your gift of eternal life. I am guilty of rebelling against you and ignoring you. I need forgiveness.
Thank you for sending your Son to die for me that I may be forgiven.Thank you that he rose from the dead to give me new life.
Please forgive me and change me, that I may live with Jesus as my ruler.
Amen"

 

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