1st June 2014

What is the meaning of life?

There are many answers, such as:
• We make our own meaning.
• There is no meaning.
• Somehow everything is controlled by fate or the stars or some unknowable force, so resign yourself to your destiny.
• You find meaning in acquiring wealth/possessions, sporting achievement, sexual relationship(s), family, career, power, hobby.
• The purpose of life is to enjoy yourself and get as much pleasure as you can.
• Some questions have no answer – best not dwell on it!
Christians say that life definitely has meaning, that we are in this world for a purpose. We believe that each one of us has been created by God, and are not here by accident. God created us for his loving purposes, to give us a life that is fulfilled and everlastingly happy in his presence, with important work to do in this world and the next. We are given free choice, so that we can choose our own meaning if we want to, perhaps through seeking pleasure or wealth; but we will only be truly fulfilled if we choose God’s purpose rather than anything else.
Jesus said, ‘What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?’ Our free will is not illusory; our destiny is not fixed by fate but is a consequence of the choices we make. If we seek meaning in possessions or achievements or our human family, or in anything that is limited to life on earth, then when life on earth is ended so is the meaning, and that is that. But that is not what God created us for.
Jesus spoke often about eternal life. In our gospel reading he says that God has given him universal authority in order that he might give eternal life to people, ‘to those God has given him’ – those who come to him, whom he will never turn away (John 6:37). Notice what eternal life is: it is not simply ‘everlasting life’; it is ‘knowing you, Father, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.’ When the Bible talks about ‘knowing’, it is not merely talking about knowing facts. It is something that arises from personal encounter and experience.
‘Knowing God’ means having a personal relationship with God, a relationship that always depends on faith (even if we’ve had some kind of spiritual experience of God), and is characterised by love and obedience. That’s the essence of eternal life.
Knowing God involves knowing Jesus. He is the one who brings us into relationship with God; he is the Christ, the Messiah, whom God has set in authority over us. Jesus’ task is to bring the whole world into harmony, with himself as the human focus of that harmony. We will only experience complete fulfilment when that task is complete. For now, as Jesus’ task force, carrying out his plans, we have work to do! And character to develop!
1) What is the meaning of life for you?
2) What do you think your role is in helping Jesus fulfil his plans?