Does Life Have a Purpose?
Is there any meaning in life? Is there any purpose that outlasts death?
Russian author, Leo Tolstoy had succeeded in all of the areas of life a person could desire. He had it all, so to say, but he wrote this: “My question—that which at the age of fifty brought me to the verge of suicide—was the simplest of questions, lying in the soul of every man . . . a question without an answer to which one cannot live, as I had found by experience. It was: ‘What will come of what I am doing today or shall do tomorrow? What will come of my whole life? . . . Is there any meaning in my life that the inevitable death awaiting me does not destroy?’”
Certainly, if we are honest with ourselves, we can relate. Even comedian Louis CK joked on Conan that people are obsessed with their phones because they are afraid of the gut-wrenching black hole in their gut that cannot be filled - a void of loneliness.
Would it surprise you to find that this exact wrestling is the theme of one of the books of the Bible? In Ecclesiastes, the author (referred to as the teacher) writes, “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
Throughout the book of Ecclesiastes, the author wrestles with all the ways that he tried to find satisfaction. His conclusion is that everything is meaningless. Wealth is meaningless because you will die and someone else will get it. Wisdom is meaningless because all the learning in the world won’t stop you from tragedy and sickness. Pleasure is meaningless because it fades away and you never have enough. The eye never has enough seeing. The ear never has enough meaning. Everything feels like you are chasing the wind. He concludes early on: All of it is meaningless. Death comes to us all.
Where the Bible stands in contrast to naturalism is here: if death is the end and there is nothing after, then there cannot be any real meaning or purpose in life. Since death destroys it all, life is lived in vain because nothing can stop death’s sickle.
The modern, educated world will tell you that you exist by chance, a unlikely mash-up of atoms. The Bible, however, suggests an alternative: There is a God life, our existence is not accidentally, and life is actually pregnant with meaning and purpose. None of it, however, can be found outside of God as part of the created order of things.
According the the Bible, we are part of a divine plan, created by a loving God with a created purpose. He wants us to walk in that purpose, to walk in the good works that he prepared for us to do, but we rejected that purpose, and God’s authority over us, and still do to this very day.
The story of the Scriptures is all about God’s great narrative of rescuing people from death, from meaninglessness, from themselves and restoring them to their original design. This came at great cost to God - the death of the man who was God, Jesus Christ. Jesus died to rescue humanity from the oblivion of self.
C.S. Lewis described it this way: “God made us; invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.” Everything else is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
But your life can have purpose. Your life can have eternal purpose.
The United States is among the most affluent, comfortable, advanced cultures in the world. We have more time for entertainment and more access to pleasures or knowledge than the vast majority of the world and certainly the majority of history. By all logic, we should be content.
But look around you. Often those who are the most beautiful, the wealthiest, the most learned, and the most successful are plagued by depression, addiction, and a host of destructive problems. With all of our creature comforts, we are less content than we’ve ever been. Why? Because these things might numb the pain, but they don’t deal with the root of the problem. They don’t provide lasting purpose.
Yet, because of Jesus Christ, your life can have meaning. You can fulfill that for which you were created - to glorify your Creator. Your life can have purpose, even eternal purpose, but it is only found through a relationship with God.
Want to learn more? Come to Revolve Church or any of the other churches participating in the Explore God sermon series this coming Sunday. For more information, including more articles and videos like this, check out www.exploregod.com.