The Meaning and Purpose of Life
Just this once I’ll post here what I’ve written for “Connections.” That’s because I’m thinking of putting it in my online library and would welcome any feedback. What do you think? Be honest and brutal.
“The Meaning and Purpose of Life”
What’s the meaning of life? I’d be lying if I gave an answer. And I encourage you to avoid looking. Why? Because it’s greater than any one of us can embrace. To think otherwise would reduce God to a cartoonish image of what we can contain.
We could say that the meaning of life is to come into relation with God, but that’s part of an infinitely bigger reality. The world he’s created, and that mankind has developed, is far too diverse and complex for us to claim any one meaning. We can only find meaning in what we personally know, not in what we don’t know. And everyone will find meaning from a different point of view.
I also encourage people to avoid a grandiose purpose of changing the world. The truth is that few people ever function at this level—and most who do would probably deny such an audacious claim. Those who aspire to a world-changing level and never reach it will wrestle with feelings of failure. How sad when people compare themselves to others or strive toward improbable expectations.
Yes, the Bible says of believers, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13 NIV). But that means you can do everything you were created to do. Other people were created to do something else.
Yet by nature we crave a sense of meaning and purpose. So what do we do about that?
I believe the best response comes in a simple statement by, of all people, Pablo Picasso. He said, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”
Re-read that. Think about it.
The meaning in life is to find your gift. Find why you were created. Discover your spiritual gifts, your talents, your strengths. Identify and clarify your interests and passions. Put that together with your the experiences of the unfolding journey called your life, and you’ll eventually get a grasp of who God made you to be and what he made you to do.
That is the substance of the meaning of life—your life—life as you live it.
The purpose of life is to give it away. Do something with it. Share it for free, or get paid for it. Whether you influence the whole world or just the people you know, your life takes on a sense of purpose when you give out what you were created to do.
Do these things—and you will always have meaning and purpose in your life. Guaranteed. What could be better? It’s why you were created.
Photo credit: www.Sanctuary.net