Beginning Sunday, October 26, I am going to spend a few weeks in our Sunday gatherings addressing “God’s purpose for the rest of your life.” To get us thinking in that direction let’s talk about life’s three greatest questions: 1) The question of existence – why am I alive; 2) the question of significance – does my life matter? 3) the question of intention – what is my purpose? Let’s take them one at a time in three separate blog entries. This is a little lengthy but if you miss the ending you miss it all.
QUESTION OF EXISTENCE: WHY AM I ALIVE?
This first question, the question of existence – “why am I alive?” is not exactly a new question. It was asked thousands of years ago. In the Bible Jeremiah asked, “Why was I born? Was it only to have trouble and sorrow, to end my life in disgrace?” (Jer 20:18) There have probably been times in your life when you felt that way, too. Was I born just to have a bunch of problems? Was I put on this planet just to have heartache, grief and stress?
Arthur Ashley Brilliant says “my life is a superb cast, but I can’t figure out the plot.” Jack Hanley wrote, “I hope life isn’t a joke, because I don’t get it.” A guy named Dr. Hugh Moorhead, who is the Chairman at the Department of Philosophy at the Northeastern University, once wrote to 250 well-known philosophers, scientists, writers and intellectuals of the world and asked them, “What is the purpose of Life.” And then he published all of their responses in a book. The book is quite discouraging and depressing. Some of these people offered their best guesses. Some admitted they made up a purpose in life. Some admitted they didn’t have any idea as to what the purpose of life was and if Dr. Moorhead knew, would he please let them know. Carl Yung, the famous psychiatrist said, “I don’t know the meaning, the purpose of life, but it looks as if something was meant by it.” Isaac Asimov wrote, “As far as I can see, there is no purpose.” Joseph Taylor authored “I Have No Answers To The Meaning of Life And I No Longer Want to Search For Any.”
You know, those are tragic statements, because life without purpose isn’t a life worth living. It is no coincidence that the suicide rate in our society has gone up. It’s now the No. 2 killer of teenage students. You see, if you take God out of the equation, you don’t really have very many alternatives. You can try the MYSTICAL APPROACH – the mystical approach says “look within and find your purpose within.” You know if that really worked, all of us would know our purpose. I’m sure you’ve tried that. I have and I bet everyone else has, too. And I didn’t find it there. It takes more than looking within.
Oprah Winfried did a show a while back on discovering your purpose of life. At every single break during that hour show, she would say “Now, come back because we’re going to tell you your purpose.” And every time they would come back and did they tell you it? No! They didn’t even come close. They didn’t even attempt it. In fact, as the credits were rolling at the end of that show, she kind of looks at the credits and says, “And remember, you’ve got to figure it out by yourself.” Looking within is not the answer.
Then you can try the PHILOSOPHICAL APPROACH – the survivalist says, “The purpose of life is just to stay alive.” In other words, live as long as you can. The Naturalist says, “The purpose of life is just to perpetuate itself.” In other words, you’re just here for biological reasons. Rap artist, Ice Tea, wrote, “The only reason we’re here is to reproduce. Just chill out and reproduce. Keep the species alive.” Doesn’t that just motivate you to want to jump out of bed in the morning? It may motivate you to jump in to bed, I don’t know. The Hedonist writes, “The purpose of life is pleasure – have fun, party-hardy.” The Materialist says, “Life is all about the acquisition of things.” You’re life is measured by the things you own. You know the problem with that is that he who dies with the most toys, still dies. And so, these are not really satisfying answers.
Or you can try the SELF-HELP APPROACH. You can go into any bookstore and find countless books that talk about discovering your life purpose. They all are basically the same thing. They say the same thing; “You’ve got to invent your purpose.” You’ve got to create your own purpose in life. And they all give the same basic approach –“ discover your dreams, go after your goals, have some ambitions, dream big dreams, aim high, believe you can achieve, have faith, figure out what you’re good at, never give up, involve other people.” Now those are all good advice and they will, if you do those things, make you a success in life. But being a success and knowing your purpose in life are not the same thing. You can be a raving success in life and still never know, “What on earth am I here for?” What did God put me on this earth for? You see, the purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment. It’s far greater than your own happiness, even your own peace of mind. You were made by God and you were made for God and you were put here for His purposes. And until you understand that, life isn’t going to make sense.
Okay, why does God want us here? Why are we alive? Why are we on this planet? Is there a reason? Well, the Bible says this in Proverbs 16.4, “The Lord has made everything for His own purpose.” It’s for His purpose. Now God has never made anything without a purpose. Every rock has a purpose, every plant has a purpose, every animal has a purpose and if you’re alive, you have a purpose. If you want to know if God still has a purpose for your life, check your heart. If it’s still beating, God still has a purpose for you here on earth.
So what is God’s purpose, God’s motive for our existence? Check this out. ”Long before He laid down the earth’s foundation, He had us in His mind and settled on us as the focus of His love to be made whole and holy by His love.” (Eph 1:4) Notice the words, “the focus of His love”. If you forget everything else don’t miss this. As we begin our discussion of God’s vision for the rest of your life, I want you to understand this, God says He made you, to love you. You were created to be loved by God. God is love and God wanted to create something to love and so He created you. He didn’t need you. He wasn’t lonely. But He made you in order to love you. He didn’t need you, He wanted you. And before we can talk about anything else, you have to understand this is what on earth you’re here for – to be loved by God.
How does that make you feel?