If I were to ask you, “What is the purpose or meaning of life?” what would you tell me? I asked a couple of my friends that at work not too long ago and their responses were what you would normally expect. They told me what they had aimed to do with their life from the beginning was to get a good education so that they could get a good job which would hopefully turn into a great career so that they could ultimately make lots of money. My follow up question: “What would you do with all the money you made?” They thought it was ridiculous for me to ask a question like that, wondering why I was completely oblivious to the reason for making money. They went ahead and answered my question anyways with a response that you would also expect. They wanted to make money so they could have status, buy whatever they wanted, enjoy life, retire early, give a good inheritance to their family, etc. I wasn’t surprised at their response because they are unbelievers but the weird part is that sometimes we as believers have the same outlook on life.
Though we are believers, we often live life with the mindset of an unbeliever. We sometimes get so caught up with the world around us that we lose sight of our true purpose. Christianity soon becomes just another activity in our lives. Rather than completely consuming us, it just takes up a small piece of the pie right between our career and education or whatever else occupies our time. One of the realest examples of this was when I was driving to church this past Sunday and saw my friend had “Checked-In” on Facebook with the caption, “On that Sunday morning God flow.” At that moment it hit me – that’s often what our life comes down to. We get so caught up with ourselves that our faith soon becomes just another flow of life rather than our life being completely about our faith. Keeping this in mind lets come back to our original question: What is the purpose and meaning of life? To get a better understanding let’s take a look at what the Bible says:
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.
All things have been created through Him and for Him! That statement alone summarizes our life’s purpose. In anything and everything that we do, it should be a service to God. We were not created to live for ourselves, to pursue our goals, to make a name for ourselves, or to be successful. The only reason we were created is so that we could serve the Creator. I feel that if I stop here it would be selling you short of what this truly means. I want to consider two passages in scripture that define this purpose of serving the Creator.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Reading from this passage, the first way we serve the Creator and fulfill our purpose in life is through the way we live our lives. In verse one of this passage, we’re told to present our body as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God. What does it mean to be a “living and holy sacrifice?” To get a true understanding of where this comes from, we need to take a look at the Old Testament. In the time of Moses when God gave his law to the people of Israel, He made it very clear to them that He was a holy God and could not be in the presence of sin. Whenever the people disobeyed God’s law, they had to make atonement for their sins so they could be reconciled with God and enter His presence again. God made it very clear in His law that the only way to obtain forgiveness of sin was through the shedding of blood. It couldn’t be just any sacrifice, it had to a perfect, spotless, flawless sacrifice. An animal without any defect or deformity had to be sacrificed in a specific way so that the sins of the people could be forgiven. In the same way God has called us to live our lives according to the same standard. He wants us to live lives that are perfect, spotless, and flawless. Of course, because of our sin nature we cannot live perfectly, but we can strive to do so. God knows we will fall to sin because we are not yet completely like Christ, but we should strive to become more and more like Him. That means understanding what our sin is when we commit it, taking steps to ask for forgiveness, and living our life in light of that as we push forward.
That same verse goes on to say that doing this would be our spiritual service of worship. When we think of worship, the first thought that comes to our heads involves songs, prayers, and sharing thoughts from the Bible. What we often overlook is that even the way we live our lives is a form of worship before God! So though we may go to church during the weekend and worship God with the congregation, the way we live our lives outside of church is just as important.
The last piece of this passage that I want to look at is the phrase in verse two where it says, “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed but the renewing of your mind.” D.L. Moody once said, “The Bible was not given for our information but for our transformation.” The Bible isn’t just given to us so that we have interesting stories to read and good motivational thoughts to memorize, but rather to change us, mold us, and transform us into the image of Christ. This is the only book you will read that has the power to truly change people. In order to fully and completely serve our Creator we need to be transformed more and more into the likeness of Christ.
Not only are we called to live righteously, but we’re also called to be witnesses. This next passage defines our purpose:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
From these verses we read we are the “light of the world.” What does that mean? Jesus explains this in two analogies, one being a city set on a hill and another being a light on a lamp stand. So I was reading in an article that Dallas recently won the title of Best International Skyline in the world, beating some renowned cities like New York City, Chicago, and Toronto. When looking into the reason why a reasonably small city had won compared to some of the big ones, it was because of the lights! If you have seen downtown Dallas at night recently, it looks stunning! It’s like a mini lightshow every night that can be seen from almost all the nearby suburbs. That is exactly what Christ meant when he mentions the city on a hill – there is no way for it to be hidden. The light shines so bright and radiant that everyone from miles around can see it. Our lives as believers should be the same. We saw from the previous passage that we are called to be “living and holy sacrifices.” The reason we are told to do so is not only to worship and serve our Creator, but also to be a witness that testifies of what Christ has done for us.
When I lived with my parents and the electricity would go out in the house, the first thing my mom would do was light several candles. Once those candles were lit, we could see where we were going as long as we had the candle with us. We are called to have the same affect on those around us as the light in a dark world. So many people are wandering in darkness around us; they have not received the light of the Gospel and God has put us where we are so that we can share it with them. Witnessing doesn’t just come through our words alone but also through our actions.
I read this in a message a while back in regards to the previous passage from Matthew 5:
”George Barna’s research has shown that the average Christian in the average evangelical church is almost indistinguishable from the rest of society. He is not talking about being different in some artificial and outward way that you might see in some legalistic churches. Rather, he is talking about the fundamental moral and ethical difference that Christ can make in how we live. When our teens get pregnant and do drugs at the same rate as the general teenage population; when our marriages end in divorce at the same rate as the rest of society; when we cheat in business, or lie, steal, and cheat on our spouses at the same statistical level as those who say they are not Christians – something is wrong. Perhaps that is the reason why our influence has not been felt in a way that points people to Jesus. Think of it, over 25% of the population of America claims to be born again. Based on the impact they are having, that doesn’t seem possible. But what if there are over 50 million Christians in America, just what would happen if they would really start living like citizens of the kingdom of God? Does your life make a difference? What kind of difference do you make? Jesus is clear that we are to make a difference. When Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth” (v.13) and “You are the light of the world”(v.14), He made a statement of fact. He did not say you should be the salt or you should be the light of the world. He said you are salt and light. The crucial thing is for us, as believers, to function as salt and light are intended to function.”
In summary, the reason we have been put here and the purpose of our lives is to worship our Creator through the way we live our lives and by witnessing to others. We are called to be AND make disciples. That’s it. As long as we are doing those two things we are fulfilling what we have been created for. This is not to say that we shouldn’t do anything else with our lives, but rather to realign our goals and purposes for doing what we were made to do.
If you are in high school, your ultimate goal is not your diploma but to be and make disciples among your friends. If you are in college pursuing your undergrad, masters, or doctorate, your ultimate goal is not that degree; it is to be and make disciples on campus. If you are working full-time and pursuing a career, your ultimate goal is not to get promoted and make more money; it is to be and make disciples in the workplace. If you are single or married with a family, your ultimate goal is not to seek your spouse and kids; it is to be and make disciples among your friends and families.
In anything and everything we do, we are called to be and make disciples for Christ. If we happen to do all these other things, they are just benefits of our purpose and NOT our ultimate goal. Let’s seek to fulfill our purpose by being AND making disciples for Christ through our lives in the coming days!