What is the meaning of life? It’s an age old question with obvious ramifications, but who really spends much time thinking about it? We are usually too busy trying to keep up with requirements and expectations to think about the meaning of it all, or even how to enrich our lives.
- Is life about accepting Jesus as our savior, trying to be “good” (i.e., sin less), do Christian things like read the Bible, pray, and evangelize; and finally, go to heaven?
- Is life about enduring this crazy, screwed up, sin-cursed world and hanging on for the rapture or the resurrection?
- Is life about investing in our most important relationships and loving others like God loves us?
- Is life about following our own personal passion in a pursuit of self actualization?
Is life about being good, hanging on, helping others, or pursuing our passions?
In a sense it is about all of the above inclusively, but non of the above exclusively.
Thinking we can reform our life is both responsible and impossible. We are responsible for our own behavior, but we are not usually very successful in changing deeply ingrained patterns of behavior. Understanding and accepting God’s unconditional love is a more effective motivation for change. Self reformation seems punitive, unrealistic, and in a sense, egotistical to think we can perfect our own life.
Hanging on until Jesus comes reminds me of the need to persevere, and that’s something we really need in this life. But life needs to be much more than just hanging on. It seems like a cop-out to not be fully engaged in this life and bringing a bit of his kingdom to life here and now.
Loving and investing our life in others is about as altruistic as it gets. Relationships give our life a lot of its meaning. But we can’t rely on others to provide all of life’s meaning for us. That’s just not fair to other people and will lead to major disappointment.
Self actualizing and making our personal contribution to the world is a logical and fulfilling way to set a course for this life, but It needs to be balanced with a life of loving others. The two go hand in hand.
How can we make sense of these competing motivations?
- Be responsible, but bask in God’s love. Understand that every step we take will not be a step forward, but it didn’t catch God off guard and it is not the end of the world. His love is the most important thing in our life.
- Be unstoppable, because the road of life has more twists and turns and bumps than we could have even imagined.
- Be heart driven, because there is something within you that will make the world a better a place. Always pursue it.
- Be loving, relationships are the context for it all.
There is one more thing that I must bring up. As I indicated at the beginning of the article, most of us probably don’t spend much time thinking about the meaning of life. We should. It is easy to get caught up in the responsibilities, the expectations, and the patterns of life until it becomes downright oppressive or boring. It is the easiest, most likely course of life to fall into. It takes effort to get out of the well worn rut. But we must. Otherwise some sort of functional depression will settle over us.
It is time for us to write our own story and make an edit in the course of life, so that we feel truly alive, focused, and purposeful.