Life's purpose (Sept 2022)
Updated: Sep 10, 2022
This post has been updated to reflect the sad news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
There is a purpose and meaning to every life.
Life is not an accident. There is a purpose and meaning to every life. Christians believe that God created the Earth and everything that lives on it. God knows each person individually, from the baby that tragically lives just a few minutes to the great-grandmother who celebrates her 100th birthday. God created all people and he loves them. He made people to worship him and to enjoy a relationship with him forever. God wants us to love him – and each other.
When Jesus was asked ‘what are the most important things a person should do’, he replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength… and love your neighbour as yourself’.
Jesus told a story that illustrates just how God thinks of people. The story, known as the Prodigal Son, tells how a father enthusiastically and joyfully takes back a rebellious son who has frittered away his inheritance and is now destitute.
The Bible says that God made people ‘in his image’. That is not about any physical likeness – it refers to other qualities such having a conscience and knowing the difference between right and wrong; having the capacity to love; having the desire for justice; and having extraordinary creativity. Another ability that marks us out as different to the rest of the created universe is that we are able to have a relationship with God himself.
How should we live?
Jesus said, ‘I have come that they may have life and have it to the full’. Christians believe that choosing to follow Jesus makes life immeasurably better. In doing so they develop a different perspective, realising that their time on Earth is a small part of their eternal existence. They enjoy a greater sense of security, purpose and self-worth. Having a close relationship with God enables them to face the challenges of life such as loss and bereavement. They are able to move on from the things they have done wrong because they know that they are forgiven.
Consequently, Christians should be an influence for good on the world around them. For example, they should love and value each other and even want the best for people who hate and persecute them; they should be hospitable; they should live in peace with others; they should put the needs of others before their own; they should love what is good and hate what is bad. The Bible teaches that God helps Christians to do all this, even when it feels impossible. And the purpose of life extends beyond dealings with others: the Bible says that God made people to rule over the Earth - not to exploit it or damage it, but to bring it under control and help it to flourish.
Jesus: ‘I have come that they may have life and have it to the full’.
What does this look like?
Many Christians have made it their life’s purpose to change the world around them for the better. Christians were at the heart of movements to end slavery, to improve conditions for the poor, and encourage civil and human rights. In recent years Christians have founded Foodbanks and the Street Pastors movement, which helps to keep people safe in towns and cities at night. As we respond to the climate crisis, Christians are actively involved as we seek to steward what we have been given by God, for the sake of all. What can you do? What is your purpose?
Ecclesiastes was written by someone called Qoheleth, who was incredibly wealthy, popular and wanted for nothing. Yet he concluded that much of life is empty and meaningless – in the end, there is no value in possessions, intellect, wealth or power. But the book ends with a twist. Qoheleth, having experienced the best that the world can offer, finishes by saying that purpose of life is to ‘fear God and keep his commandments’ – in other words, respect God and follow his instructions for life.
Our Queen's love and purpose
After this reflection was first published we received the sad news of the death of our Queen, which has deeply shaken our nation.
At her Coronation in 1953, Queen Elizabeth said these words:
"I have in sincerity pledged myself to your service, as so many of you are pledged to mine. Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust."
Our Queen put her duty to serve God and others before her own preferences. She loved by giving herself to others (us). Her purpose in life was not simply the fulfillment of an ancient monarchical tradition; her motivation and direction was established on her faith in Jesus.
In 2002 she said:
“I know just how much I rely on my faith to guide me through the good times and the bad. Each day is a new beginning. I know that the only way to live my life is to try to do what is right, to take the long view, to give of my best in all that the day brings, and to put my trust in God!”
Queen Elizabeth has passed from time, into eternity. She is with her Heavenly King, having fulfilled her purpose.
Please do come and join us as we seek to follow God and fulfill our purpose. If you have questions of purpose or ‘why believe’, do contact us.