What is the Meaning of Life?
What is the Meaning of Life?
That question. It’s been a stumbling block for humanity for about as long as life has existed. Why am I here? What is the point of all of this? Does my life matter? The way we answer this question of purpose shapes everything else we do.
“Wow, Layna. This seems a little bit intense for what is supposed to be a relatively light-hearted blog. What gives?” … Fair enough, you make a valid point. Let me back up a bit. A week and a half ago, our young adult ministry, The Porch, took a trip to Canaan Valley, WV. While there, we did a lot of hiking, some sightseeing, and hit the slopes for skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. The highlight of our time together, however, was the time we spent digging into some of the hardest faith questions.
Over the course of five days, we worked through ‘The Thinking Series’ (which can be found on RightNow Media). Andy Steiger and his team at Apologetics Canada took a poll of students across a few different campuses and asked them what faith questions they had. The majority of questions boiled down to five main topics, starting with “What is the Meaning of Life?”
This brings me back to where we started this little chat. In leading our group through this conversation, I was challenged and encouraged, and I wanted to write about some of the highlights of our time in an effort to share that encouragement with the rest of our church family.
In order to land on a solid answer to the question as a whole, we need to first talk about what it is that gives anything meaning. I’m sure many of us have experienced a literature class that required us to read a short story or poem and then write a paper about what the author meant the themes of that story to be. I am also confident that I wasn’t the only one sitting in class trying to figure out how my teacher was finding all of these secret meanings behind a plot that seemed to be mostly just two dumb lovesick teenagers who had a thing for balconies. (If you are an English Lit teacher, I apologize. Please forgive me and my uncultured sass!)
What I always came back to was a strong feeling that I would be able to really understand the point of the story or poem without speaking to the author. The same is true of any other kind of art! I don’t have any ability to discern the purpose behind most of it until I get some kind of direction from the artist. The creator of a thing is what gives that thing its meaning.
I’m sure you’re starting to anticipate where I’m going here. If meaning is given by a thing’s creator, then for the answer to our question of “What is the Meaning of Life?”, we have no choice but to look to The Author of Life for our answer. Many of us spend years, even decades, of our lives trying to give our lives meaning through our work, our marriages/parenthood, our physical appearance, our socioeconomic status… you name it, we’ve tried it. But at the end of the day, we don’t have the authority to give ourselves meaning, because none of us has created ourselves. The term ‘self-made man’ can never be an actual reality.
So what does the Creator, God, say that our meaning is? The answer can be found in Jesus’ words in Mark 12: 28-31:
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Our God is a triune God… He is 3-in-1. This means that He is constantly in perfect relationship with Himself. Did you know that God, our Creator, created us in His image (see Gen. 1:26-27)? Because of that, a need for relationship is written into the fabric of who we are. As we seek to understand the meaning of life at large, and the purpose of our individual lives, we can find the answers in relationships.
We must always begin with our relationship with God. Everything we are starts and ends with Him as our Creator. It is an indescribable grace that a relationship with God is something available to us in the first place, and yet that is the first place that the Author of Life prescribes us meaning. In loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we find deep purpose.
The second kind of relationship in which we find meaning is in our love for our neighbor. How we care for others in relationship is evidence of our relationship with God. His Name is glorified and made great across the nations as we serve and love our neighbors (those around us).
Our purpose is found and rooted in the fact that we have a Creator who gives our lives meaning through relationship with Him and with our neighbors.