Here is a big topic for the next few minutes: what is the meaning of life? Wow. I’ve only got 4.5 minutes to try and answer this one. It’s huge!
Four psychologists did an extensive study of notable quotations from notable people around the world, about the meaning of life. They looked at the quotes of 195 people from the past 200 years, and the results are very interesting. I wonder what you would say?
Different Views about the Meaning of Life
Many said: Life is to be experienced and enjoyed. Make the most of the moment and the journey. Janis Joplin is best known for her lyric: “Get it while you can.”
Others said: We live to express compassion to others, to love, to serve. Thirteen percent endorsed this theme (Albert Einstein, Mohandas Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama). Albert Einstein stated: “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” That’s a very popular quote.
Life is a struggle. Eight percent endorsed this theme (Charles Dickens, Benjamin Disraeli, and Jonathan Swift). Swift wrote that life is a “tragedy wherein we sit as spectators for a while and then act our part in it.” I find that quite sad.
Life is unknowable, a mystery. Thirteen percent endorsed this theme (Albert Camus, Bob Dylan, and Stephen Hawking). Hawking wrote, “If we find an answer to that (why we and the universe exist), it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we would know the mind of God.”
And then 11% said: We are to worship God and prepare for the afterlife. People like Desmond Tutu, Billy Graham, Martin Luther King Jr, and Mother Teresa supported this view. Desmond Tutu said, “[We should] give God glory by reflecting his beauty and his love. That is why we are here, and that is the purpose of our lives.”
Three Questions about the Meaning of Life
I think there are three basic questions about the meaning of life:
Why am I alive? For thousands of years people have asked this question. Many people of the Bible did. Jeremiah asked this question, “Why was I born? Was it only to have trouble and sorrow? To end my life in disgrace?”
Second, there’s the question of significance: Is there some meaning and purpose to my life? Is all that I’m doing just a waste of time and energy? Is my life significant?
In Psalm 89, David asked, “I remember how short my life is [in other words, it’s not that long]. Why did You create us? For nothing?” Job asked the question, “Why should I work so hard for nothing?” If there’s no meaning and purpose, why am I even doing this? Solomon in the Old Testament even questions the significance of pleasure. He says, “Laughing and having fun is crazy. What good does it do?” Is there any significance to what I do? Why keep going? Without meaning life is petty, trivial, and pointless.
God has made each one of us for a purpose.
And there’s the question of intention: “Is there a purpose for my life?” Isaiah said this: “My work all seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and for no purpose at all.”
The British philosopher Bertrand Russell, who described himself as an atheist, said, “Unless you assume a God the question of the purpose of life is meaningless.” In other words, if there is no God, there is no grand scheme or significance to anything. If there is no God, your birth was an accident. You simply represent a random chance. If there is no God, there is no right or wrong and no Heaven or Hell.
God has made each one of us for a purpose. Nothing matters more than knowing God’s purpose for our lives and nothing can compensate for not knowing it—not success, wealth, fame, or pleasure.
But the amazing thing is it’s never too late to discover our God-ordained purpose. God makes everything with a purpose. Every plant has a purpose, every animal has a purpose, and because you’re still alive, he has a purpose for your life.
(Read The Meaning of Life – Part 2)