The purpose of life is almost universally misconstrued. Contemplative minds, young and old, have pondered or continue to ponder the question of what life is all about. A plethora of answers has been provided to this question. Many of such answers are human-centered postulations. For example, it is suggested that: We are on earth to accumulate wealth, enjoy life, and help our fellow human beings. Lofty though this may seem, particularly the last part about helping our fellow human beings, the suggestion is a fallacy. It is human-centered, bound to fail, has indeed failed in the past, and will continue to fail in the future.
Overwhelming evidence shows that we have collectively failed to live up to this suggested life’s purpose. This is fundamentally because it is a misconstrued purpose. The evidence of our collective failure is found everywhere. Comparatively speaking, only a small number of people are wealthy. Enjoyment of life is fleeting for some and completely elusive to the rest. As for helping our fellow human beings, we have also failed to accomplish any meaningful success. Various altruistic endeavors have managed to temporarily help some people but only in some transient respects. Both the helped and the helpers still face overpowering distractions, interferences and challenges.
Take a look around. Disasters and turmoil of various kinds persist in our world. There is no trouble-free zone. People treat others inhumanely even in many so-called civilized societies. The right thing to do is often not known in varying circumstances and situations. Many proposed solutions to personal, social, political and economic affairs appear to create more problems. Shall we blame God for all of these? Of course not!
The problem is completely ours with our misconstrued notions about why we exist. Many of us go about life as if we are our own saviors and the saviors of mankind. Here are some examples that reveal the failures of human endeavors. For instance, there is a universal enslavement to the tyranny of time. We have created so many time saving devices: For our food, we have rapid growth hormones and automated processing systems. For our raiment, we have the sewing machine. For our shelter, we have pre-prepared lumber through automated sawmills, and we have power nail drivers for building our houses. For travel, we have jet planes. We even have spacecrafts. For communication, we have from the ball point pen to cyber space and more. We have created time management strategies. A Google search brings up 35,000,000 or more results for “Time Management Strategies”. Yet, the most common yearning today is for more time to pursue or complete all of our interests or tasks. The most expressed frustration, no matter where you are, is due to delays of some sort.
And here is the part that is most puzzling. Everyone, it seems, wants to be given the allowance to do things for other people at a comfortable pace. However, when it comes to the individuals wanting things done for them, the expectation is for these things to have been completed “yesterday”. A common cliche, you might say? It is. This may not be everyone’s experience nor does it happen in every situation. However, from my observation, very few recipients of services are willing to wait (that is without complaining at all) for service providers to work at their own pace, particularly if the recipients are paying for these services.
There are rushed demands by people who are in turn rushed to produce or provide services. Anger and frustration are perennial with so many people because of this rushed existence. There is road rage because of impatience. This has proven to be fatal in some instances. Almost everyone we meet appear to be under one form of stress or another. This seems to be getting worse even with all of the technological advancements and what not.
Now that we are considering these facts, we might say that the obvious solution is for us to simply “relax and take life easy”. But who is going to be the first to consistently stay relaxed even if his or her time expectations are not being met? What would sustain this relaxed state of being?
There is another enigma. It has to do with our seemingly fleeting satisfaction with life. We have invented so many things for human comfort? Yet many people are not completely content. There is always more to be had for greater comfort.
You have probably heard the famous story about how John D. Rockefeller answered the question, “how much money is enough?” “Just a little bit more”, he said. “Just a little more!”(footnote: #1).
Many of us have not had the first hand experience with having so much money to worry about. Perhaps we should say: “Thank God”. There was a recent news headline that read: “Facing Losses, Billionaire Takes His Own Life” (footnote: #2). Of course, the fleeting sense of satisfaction extends far beyond the scope of having or not having money. Some people do not have friends. Others have uncooperative family members or no family at all. There are betrayals at work and in business transactions. You name it, we have it as a problem.
So what is the answer to the nagging question? Why do so many of us find it hard to have a peaceful and fulfilled existence? What really is the purpose of life? The notion of simply accumulating wealth and enjoying life does not seem to have done it for the wealthy. The suggested altruistic focus of helping our fellow human beings has not caught on as a universal ideal that governs everyone’s life. Peace and contentment remain elusive and many people remain unfulfilled in life. Does this mean that we are faced with an enigma that cannot be resolved? This is not the case.
There is a reasonable proposal that we would do well to consider. It starts with the understanding of the true purpose of our existence. This understanding takes us away from the human-centered focus and efforts. It takes us beyond the simple suggestions for us to accumulate wealth, enjoy life, and help our fellow human beings. It is an understanding that is derived from studying and properly applying Biblical truth and precepts.
All of the aforementioned perplexities are sufficiently resolved by God’s revelations in creation and in his Wordthe Bible. A carnal mind is sure to err in its attempt to explain why this world exists or why we are here. The proper answer to this question is found only in the Bible.
This life does not merely provide the opportunity for human enjoyment. Although life is to be enjoyed, it is not the reason for our being here. Some observations and suggestions are provided in the book Vital Truth and Precepts (footnote: #3). The following are some excerpts:
“Contrary to many misconceptions, we have been placed in this world by virtue of our position within God’s creation. We are here to learn about God and his grace. This life provides us with the unique opportunity to learn, by experience, the redemptive grace of God. This life prepares us to live in the reality of God’s grace now and forever. We are essentially being groomed to appropriately worship God from a perspective that is uniquely and exclusively ours through the experiences of this life.
The Bible instructs us to train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he shall not depart from it’ (Proverbs 22:6). God exemplifies this perfectly. On earth, we are the beneficiaries of God’s training unto perfection in Christ Jesus. It is a good work that he resolved to begin in us, and he will be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6). We are in a soul school, if you will. Our teacher is God himself: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Our text is the Bible. We have drills in the form of experiences and struggles. Evil has been allowed to take its course that we may be both challenged and made aware of God’s infinite mercy, grace, and power.
Through many examples in the lives of individuals, God shows his power, sovereignty, and infinite wisdom. All that we have been commanded to do are opportunities for practice. We are being prepared to dwell with the Most High. All of our experiences, whether good or bad, are designed to create in us an eternally active and enduring appreciation for God’s grace.” (footnote: #3)
So you see? The true purpose of life is not human-centered. It is God-centered. The purpose is not accomplished through human efforts. It is ordained by God and accomplished through the grace and power of God. While the human-centered purpose is a fallacy and bound to fail, the God-centered purpose of our lives is the true purpose and it is bound to be realized. We exist to worship God.
Footnotes ( referenced sources):
Footnote: #1: New World Encyclopedia
Footnote: #2: Billionaire Takes His Own Life
Footnote: #3: Indicated Bible references and excerpts have been taken from Vital Truth and Precepts, Philadelphia, PA: Xlibris, 2008, Pp 83 to 88.