In James 4:14 in the NT, the apostle asks: “What is your life?”. What is your life? What is the meaning of your life? What’s it all about? Songs have been written about it: ‘What’s the meaning, what is the meaning of life?’. Films have been produced about the subject, the meaning of life. Indeed, for many, there is no greater question to be answered, there is no greater pursuit in life than to find what the meaning of life really is.
The answer to that question, for most people, at least some, is crucial to why they are here. It’s probably the most asked philosophical question by humanity at large, and yet most people believe that they probably will never ever find the true answer to what the meaning of their life is, for whatever reason.
Common answers often are these: the meaning of my life is to find happiness, to find fulfilment or flourishing. Some say, ‘Well, I want to fall in love, and I want that love to last a lifetime, that’s what I want to find’. Some feel that compassion is the reason why they live, and some folk go to no mean feats to express human compassion to others who are in need across the world. Others feel they’re here just for pleasure, ‘I’m here to have a good time, to enjoy the days and the hours while I have them’.
Other people think it’s to reproduce, to have a family, or just to enjoy sex. Some believe it’s power, ‘I want to get as much power as I can, perhaps to earn as much money as I can have’. Some intellectual folk think that it’s knowledge, you want to learn as much as you possibly can, and that enhances your life through understanding or wisdom. This is a huge question, and I hope you’ve thought about it. If you are a Christian, you might say your life is linked with God, however you perceive Him to be … and there are others who don’t know the answer at all.
At least that’s being honest.
Many years ago in the UK, the Birmingham Gospel Outreach, produced a cartoon gospel leaflet, and it’s called ‘His One Mistake’. It was given out to people when the church conducted outdoor services. It goes from frame to frame in this man’s life, and there’s a picture of him standing with a briefcase in his hand, and his suit on, and he’s going to work obviously. This is how the tract goes – imagine the pictures as they reel through from frame to frame – first, he always made it into the office on time. He kept up with the news.
The doctors examined him twice a year. He knew a few jokes. He ate lots of fresh fruit. He played football on Sunday mornings. He slept at least eight hours every night. He never smoked. He never drank or lost his temper. He took healthy walks when he could in the clean air. He kept himself clean. He did his daily exercises. He was all set to live to be a hundred…the funeral will be held on Thursday. His one mistake: he forgot God. He lived as if the world was all, and now he is with those – the tract says – who say, Jeremiah 8 verse 20,’The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved’. He lived a full life, it would appear that he lived a life filled to capacity with meaning and purpose, and pursuit and fulfilment, and satisfaction – yet he forgot God! He missed the whole point, and that’s why James says: ‘What is your life?