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The Meaning of Life :

 

 

THE MEANING OF LIFE

As humans, we struggle to find and define purpose and meaning in life. We either agonize over the issue or totally ignore it because it is too difficult to face. But the Bible is clear and concise, when it comes to the meaning of life. The Word of God leaves no ambiguity or lack of clarity. If fact, an understanding of the meaning of life as scripture frames it gives one all he or she needs to set the course of one’s life and insure fulfillment and satisfaction.

God’s intention for us is to know what life is all about and to live accordingly, thus living life exactly as God intended. The natural result of this knowledge is to live a life without regrets. Too many people face the end of their lives with the empty feeling that the years were wasted and without meaning; nothing is sadder. What is available to all of us instead, is the prospect of looking back on our lives with a sense of thankfulness and satisfaction. If this is so, then we must look to God’s Word for the meaning of life.

“Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going. Thomas said to Him, Lord, we do not know where you are going, how do we know the way? Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me.” John 14:1-6

A conference held at one of the local universities and following the conference there was an article published that was very telling. You see, the theme of the conference was ‘THE MEANING OF LIFE’. A simple subject, and everybody has the answer to it, right? People from the fields of philosophy, religion, and theology, all having different perspectives, were there. All had come together for this conference.

At the very end of the conference, one of the students from the university who had attended the entire conference was interviewed and quoted in the article. The student stated, “Well, I came to the conference not knowing the meaning of life, and I still don’t know it.” I thought about that reflective statement and began to understand, when reading all the different reactions, why it would have been impossible to come to one conclusion. A quote right at the beginning of the article by one of the professors responsible for putting the conference together stated, “Yes, this was a conference on the meaning of life, but let me qualify that: we went into it knowing that there are no absolutes.”

In other words, we are looking for the meaning of life and there is no answer! It is interesting to search for something when you do not believe it is there. It is like that classic gag on the old Red Skelton show where you would see him in the center of a dark stage under a streetlight. He is down on his knees looking for something and a policeman comes by and says, “Did you lose something?” And the man says, “Yeah, I lost my very valuable ring.” They both get down on the ground together and start looking for this valuable ring and after awhile, the policeman asks, “Are you sure you lost it here?” To which the man replies, “Oh no! I lost it over there, but the light’s much better here.”

We do that sometimes; we look for things in the wrong places or we look for things we really don’t believe have an answer. I think this very simple statement we have been looking at, THE MEANING OF LIFE, requires the Word of God to be read in a certain way. There are times we need to read scripture from start to finish and times we just need to grasp as much as we can, but there are also times we need to read it more closely. We need to look at this passage as if through a microscope. A close examination is often the way we must look at the Word of God because it is so rich and so deep. Sometimes we zoom over the words when we ought to zoom in on them.

Listen to what Jesus said in just a few words: “I am THE life.” The definite article, THE, is in the original text. Jesus, in those few words, states very powerfully that there is a meaning to life. Scripture reveals what God intends life to be.

Let us look at the book of Genesis and see what God’s intention is for life. Let us zoom into Chapter 1, verse 24 and read a few passages to understand this thing called life. Then God said,

“Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind, cattle and creeping things and beasts of the field after their kind and it was so.” And Chapter 2, verse 7 says, “The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being.”

God, in His very infinite, wonderful mind designed this thing called life. Not only did He design it, He created and formed it from the dust and then He literally gives it breath; saying to us very clearly and very powerfully… life comes from God - He is the creator of life. No matter from what perspective or frame of mind you approach the book of Genesis in this particular instance, you can see very clearly that God designed, created and began life for mankind.

But then we need to look a little further in Chapter 2, verse 16. The Lord God commanded the man saying,

“From any tree of the garden you may eat freely, but from the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in that day that you eat from it, you shall surely die.”

God, recognizing the threat to life, protects it, knowing that there is a particular thing called sin, which would kill life. And so God tries to protect man.

It is interesting that in the intentional design, you discover a couple of things. Think about this for a minute. First of all, God intended that life be immortal. Jesus said to Mary at the death of her brother Lazarus,

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me shall live even if he dies and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

These are the words of Jesus Christ, The Creator, and this is life as God intended.

Secondly, He intended life to be purposeful and fulfilling. Tragically, what unfolds in the Garden of Eden is a tale of man throwing away what God had given. Man ignores God’s warning, disobeying His commands. Listen to the punishment man brings on himself.

“So He drove out the man; and at the east of the Garden of Eden, He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword, which turned every direction, to guard the way to the tree of life.”

God steps in and drives Adam and Eve from the garden and brings upon them a judgment of death. Man forfeited much by this act of disobedience. I think it is interesting to note in context here that; not only did sin separate us from God, it separated us from life as God intended it. That is, life with God in the Garden of Eden. Apart from God there is no meaning in life. Do we try to find meaning? Do we continue to strive to understand life? Does man still try to find and create a meaning for life? Yes, absolutely! But what most people call life is a poor substitute.

We attempt to fulfill our lives by the pursuit of pleasure, power, and popularity. The fact of the matter is that it is futile and empty to try to find life apart from God. According to the Scriptures and according to God’s design, life and the meaning of life, is impossible apart from God. For life is, by its very definition, what God intended it to be. To try and find life elsewhere is futile. Life can only be found in light of what God had intended.

Let us go back to the words of Jesus in John 14. The disciples had heard Jesus speak of very difficult things. Jesus spoke about His blood and how it would be necessary for salvation. He symbolically spoke of partaking of Him. The disciples could not grasp these spiritual concepts, and the multitudes began to drift away. Jesus said to His disciples, “Do you wish to leave, too.” They replied, “No, to whom else shall we go, for you have the words of life.”

John 10:10, one of my favorite verses, says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that you might have life and have it abundantly.” The thief is the one who would give us the substitutes to life. If you are trying to find life in anything else that the world has to offer, whether it be pleasure, power, relationships, or whatever else; you are buying stolen goods and that is a lie. But look at what Jesus offers when He says, “I came that they might have life and might have it abundantly.” This is life to its fullest, life to its max! In other words, the life that God intended is fulfilling.

Do you sometimes wonder what it is all about? Do you sometimes have emptiness? The life God offers is totally satisfying. It is totally fulfilling.

In John 17:22, Jesus says again in prayer,

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (NIV)

You see, life, as God intended, is very focused. God has a particular plan for us; a particular way in which we should live our lives; a particular purpose that each of us should fulfill. There are so many people looking for a purpose in life when it is right there before them in the life that God intends for them.

What is interesting as we look at what Jesus said when He said, “I am the life”, is that it tells us very clearly that the life He intended, this eternal life, this fulfilling life, this focused life, can only be found in Jesus Christ. He is THE life and looking for it apart from Jesus Christ is futile. Then the question is: How do I find it in Jesus, and what does it mean to have life in Jesus, practically speaking?

You see, life isn’t just in platitudes; it is in practical living. So what does it mean for you and me to live a life in Jesus Christ? Again, we have to turn to the very words of Jesus. John 12:24 says,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal.”

Interesting words; a paradox – but in that paradox is, in fact, the meaning to life. The paradox says that in order for us to gain life as God intended, we must forfeit it, but not in a physical way. It is unfortunate that I have to qualify that these days, but there are people who have tried to tell people, literally, that suicide is life (and it is certainly not). What Jesus is speaking of is a spiritual forfeit of our lives. This forfeiture admits that the way that I have tried to find meaning in life, the way that I have tried to live out my life and find fulfillment has been wrong. I must acknowledge that the things I have in my daily life, the pursuits, the desires, the dreams and the goals that I have apart from God are meaningless and futile. I must come to recognize that I want what God wants for me. In order to do that, I must forfeit my dreams, my desires and, most important of all, my will. I must say “God, if the way life is intended to be lived is the way Jesus lived it, then what I need to do is live the life of Jesus. AND THAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE.

Live life as God, Himself, demonstrated it. The only way to do that is to say, “I give up control of my life and ask Jesus to take charge.” The first step is for salvation; it is a decision that says, “Jesus come into my heart.” Then in a daily sacrificial offering of your life to God, you say, “Today, Lord, I don’t know what I’m going to face. I don’t know the issues or the decisions, but I want you to live your life through me. And the life that I want to live today, Lord, I give it up to live Your life.”

Can you imagine the possibilities that prayer opens? Can you imagine what God could do if everyday each of us would say, “Lord, what do you want to do? I had goals and plans and hopes and dreams and I give them to You.” Now, the Lord may give back and even fulfill those same dreams and goals. Then we know that what we are doing is according to the intention that God had for us. But, even if God doesn’t do things our way, it is still better to experience that which God had intended instead of our agenda, our plans. This is the meaning of life – to live it according to the Lord.

I once counseled a young man. Talking and praying with him, I found that he was someone with a very interesting background. He was an ex-convict, a very rough individual who had accepted the Lord as his Savior. In talking together over the weeks, at first very uncomfortably, I could see while growing in the Lord, he was in a very real spiritual wrestling match. He had come to a conflict with another person, a very minor conflict really. He said to me, “My first inclination is to either take him out or to say, ‘no, you can’t do that to me, I’m not going to let you’.” But something inside of him, something in this new life that was struggling to find its way to the surface, said, “I know that’s not right.” It was such a blessing to see his growth, and yet I had to ask him, “What do you think Jesus would do?” He knew the answer instinctively.

As we read through the Scriptures to understand what it was that Jesus wanted him to do, he humbled himself to let a little more of that old pride and ‘you can’t get the better of me’ attitude die. Sometimes living life as God intended on a daily basis, means that there is going to be a little more dying to self, a little more breaking of ‘me’, of what ‘I’ want. But the blessing is that when it happens and God begins to live in us and we see that our lives change, we come to know that it is much more fulfilling and satisfying to live the way God wants us to live. Galatians 2:20, one of my key verses for life says,

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”

You see, that is true life. Life is found in death. It is found in dying to self and living to Jesus Christ. In recognizing that the very meaning of life was shown to us through the life of Jesus and saying, “God, that is how I want it. Please live your life in me.”

The question before us now is, do we want to live life as God intended, or do we want to continue to find life on our own, to search for it in the futile corners, in the tidbits that the world would throw us? That may make us happy or fulfilled for the moment, only to find emptiness; but we find true meaning and happiness in life by giving it to the Lord, surrendering our lives to Him. Contemplate, and don’t be afraid to come to conclusion and closure and say that from this time on I want to live life as God intended it.

If it is your personal desire to experience life as God intended it, stop right now and pray this prayer:

“God, I believe in your Son Jesus Christ. I believe He came to earth to show me how to live. I believe He died on the cross to pay for my sins. I believe He rose from the dead to secure for me eternal life. I now commit my life to you. I wish to live only as you intend me to live. I wish to live according to your Word. Please show me “day by day,” what you what from me. In Jesus name, Amen.”

 


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