Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
The prestigious media outlet USA Today had a survey asking people an intriguing question: What would you ask God or some other supreme being if you could ask one question? After the results were in, the number one question would be: What is my purpose in life?
I thought this was fascinating, and thought-provoking—do you know what your purpose in life is? Have you ever thought about it?
Let me put it another way. Once you know what your purpose is, there is so much more meaning to life. It may sound simplistic, but I believe it to be true. Some people think it’s a waste of time thinking like this—but remember what Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Do you have energy and passion—a desire to contribute something unique to the world? Do you have a clarity about where you’re heading in life? Some people may ask, Why have a life purpose? Why not just live life as we know it and ignore everything else? Why not chill out and relax until we die?
You can pursue your current goals and tasks for 10, 20, 30 years, then realise down the road that Hey, this isn’t what I really want after all. As Stephen Covey once said, “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place.”
Relationship With God Is Our Ultimate Purpose
The Bible tells me that we are created in God’s image for relationship with him. Being in that relationship is the only thing that will ultimately satisfy our souls. Until we come to know God, we’ve had many wonderful experiences, but we haven’t hit a nail. We’ve been used for some noble purposes, but not the one we were ultimately designed for, not the one through which we will find the most fulfilment. St Augustine summarised it in his famous prayer: “You [God] have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You”.
Life has to be more than pleasure-seeking, partly because the enjoyment doesn’t last. It’s here for a moment, then gone. Author Ravi Zacharias said it well: “If there is no larger meaning to life—then life is without a driving force, without overall substance or explanation.”
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Even in the midst of a Nazi prison camp, Corrie ten Boom found God to be wholly satisfying; she wrote: “The foundation of our happiness was that we knew ourselves hidden with Christ in God. We could have faith in God’s love—our Rock who is stronger than the deepest darkness.”
Jesus helps us look beyond ourselves to find our purpose. You see, our purpose in life is a combination of ‘out-of-this-world living’ and ‘living our lives for others’. Jesus states our purpose for us in a book of the Bible called Matthew. In Matthew 22:37 and following, Jesus unveils that purpose. He removes any doubts about what matters, and what doesn’t.
He states our purpose with crystal clarity. He says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” He then goes on to say, “Love your neighbour as yourself.” With these words Jesus directs us to live for God and for others!
Our Purpose-Driven Life
Real life is a life filled with fulfilment, acceptance and purpose. We find it in a relationship with Jesus Christ. No-one in human history has made the claims Jesus made and given such great proofs to back them up. He claimed to be God, to be able to forgive sins, and to be the only way through which we can know God the Father. Jesus backed up those claims through his resurrection from the dead. He is, truly, the most unique person who ever lived—much more than a great teacher!
The Bible says that Jesus was God who became man: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” He was ‘the exact representation of his [God’s] being’—that’s how the Bible puts it. In short, Jesus Christ revealed exactly what God is like.
The mega-church pastor and author Rick Warren has captured the imagination of millions of people with his book The Purpose Driven Life, because he very powerfully answers this question. It’s a book you need to get. He says:
It’s not about you. The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfilment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.