It may not take a mid-life crisis for someone to start asking about the purpose and meaning of life. But, no other subject seems to boggle the mind, nor can any other topic so readily stem out of or possibly lead to depression. That is, the subject is heavy. Those who dare to stare life in the face for a minute out of their “busy” day will agree.
Views on life are a dime a dozen. Marxism says meaning is found in what one creates/produces in his life. Now, we all agree that men like Steve Jobs change the way we live by his many innovations. Yet, marxism’s end offers that if you haven’t the opportunity or means or strength or health, then you’re nothing. So, kill all the weak, inferior, non-productive, elderly, etc?
Buddhism teaches the meaning/goal of life (enlightenment) is to eliminate desires, and so, the causes of pain. I know that is an oversimplification, but it highlights the problem of existence – that something is innately wrong with us humans in our desires. While that is accurate, Buddism has one relying on self to rid one of self. Furthermore, this most basic tenet of Buddhism does not touch on the meaning of life.
Hinduism is much the same. If one is what men judge to be of superior birth, then great! However, if one is of inferior cast or even outcast, then one (either intentionally or by nature of the system) steps on others in order to scratch out a meager existence, let alone attain Nirvana and stop being reborn in a low state. It is either passively accept my lowliness (that I am a bad person due to “past life” and Karma), or it is scrape and scrap in my own efforts. These two elements lead to humanly contrived discouragement. It is just back to frustration from striving and doing good deeds for the gain of “self betterment” instead of sincere love; and, too bad, if you are too low.
What about ancestor worship which ultimately says, “my existence is because of and for those in my lineage”? Are ancestors perfect, or were they just people too? Why live for dead people… so that one day a living person will live for you when you are dead? Isn’t that self-exaltation? There is no power of life in that – just the facts of mortality.
Those who worship spirits for power are admittedly held captive by them – no freedom in that, only fear.
New age philosophy is just old-age philosophy re-spun: either you do it because it feels good, and so, get all the enjoyment you can out of life [selfishness and temporal living]; or, your own judgement and reason must guide you [pride and self-exaltation]; or, abstain from all things passionate because ill comes from passion [back to Buddhism again]; or, you “become one with the universe” by meditating, and so, let the “universe” guide you through life [passive aimlessness and trust in faceless chance].
While all the above may present philosophies on going through life, notice that none actually deal with the meaning of life. The question is simple in form: “Why am I here; why are we all here?” That question can not be directly answered by telling someone a philosophy for living or describing his present duty (what he should or should not do with the life he has), or by telling him how he can be a “success” in this life (in others’ eyes). No, no. The answer must transcend all philosophies of living and human opinions on what is success. The meaning of life must satisfy that part of us that screams out, “why life; why live?” It must sound like: “we all are here, because…” or, even better, “you are here, so that….”
And, here is the simple answer. We are all here because THE creative God, who loves to love, wanted to love some more. So, he created us… and also the rest of the things in this world, so that we’d have an enjoyable place to dwell and a place where he would meet with us. In fact, God wanted the love to be so genuine between himself and his human creation that God provided us with a free will. We could choose to love him back by trusting him and learning from him, or we could choose to not trust him, and so, not follow his instruction. In short, he created us to know him and to know his love. And, he gave us a world of other creatures (including humans) for which to demonstrate that love. That’s what he wanted. You were created to be loved and to love in turn. You were made for a relationship with God and others.
Sadly, mankind chose early on to not trust this all-good and loving God, and so, not to love him back. Instead, we chose to follow our own reasoning when it came to God’s specific commands. And, yes, God calls that sin. We’ve each been doing this ever since the beginning; and since then, the parameters for life’s purpose have changed a little. It went from experiencing God to not experiencing him. Life became a mystery, aimless, wondering, lonely, unloving.
God calls the unloving, non-trusting human mentality, our “own way” (Isaiah 53:6). We mistook a temptation for an opportunity to be something greater and better, and we believed God was somehow holding out on us by keeping us down and holding us back (Genesis 3). In actuality, God proves he withholds no good thing from those who love him, trust him, and follow him. All the things humanity thought were being withheld indefinitely surely would have been given in the right time and way. The result of mankind’s choice was inability to know God and his love. The nature of man was ruined so that we became desperately sickened by having our “own way,” and each one’s relationship with God was eternally offended. The earth became a place of hard labor because of that. Life became lonely and harsh. Even the rest of created things began to suffer and work against us humans instead of with us. And, then, people started to know physical death as well as the spiritual death they already experienced by being separated from God.
One thing that mankind has not changed is the fact that God loves to love. Immediately, God began to reveal his plan to buy back the creation that sold itself out. The God of life and love would sacrifice himself, so that offenses would be lawfully paid and each person could use his free will to choose the Savior of all mankind, Jesus Christ. All those who would humble themselves, being tired of their “own way,” would receive not only complete forgiveness but also the restored ability to love and know God properly. Thus, the original purpose of life would be remade. Through a union with Jesus Christ spiritually, the believer takes on a new identity and receives a regenerated spirit, which partakes of the Divine Nature. That means a change of desires.
So, here we find ourselves in the middle of this timeline and epic account of God and humanity. Some will say, “But, Christianity is just another religion about getting to heaven and escaping Hell, about forcing people to do things and scaring them if they don’t.” Not so! Hell is real, yes… just as is Heaven. However, the meaning of life and its restoration through Jesus Christ was first given the title Christianity by those living in Antioch, 1st Century A.D. Until then, it was called “that way.” And, as I have just repeated for you, Christianity is not about escaping Hell so that one can use God like a tool in order to be selfishly assured of eternal bliss. That would be religion. What I describe is a reconciled relationship with the all-loving God, whom you can and ought to know. Change your mind about these things, and believe on Jesus Christ as the Savior of all mankind, and know the meaning of life.
For all those who believe on Jesus, the purpose and meaning of life couldn’t be clearer. Love God, because he first loved you. Live for him. Then, tell everyone you can about the true meaning of life.