What is the purpose of life?
Once there was a six-year old boy who asked his mother the question: "Mom, Where did I come from?" Thinking this was a great opportunity to explain the facts of life to her son, the mother took a deep breath, and went into a long, detailed explanation of the reproductive organs, conception and birth. But after about 15 minutes, the bored first grader started fidgeting and said, "Well, Jason says He comes from Nova Scotia"
The mother said afterwards, "I had the sinking feeling that I was answering the wrong question."
This morning, we want to begin a new series of messages entitled: "Answering Life's Important Questions" 3,000 years ago, King Solomon asked himself some important questions, in this book we know as the book of Ecclesiastes. They’re basically the same questions we are still asking today. Questions like: How can I be happy? How can I make the most of my time? Why is there so much suffering and injustice in the wolrd? But the question he’s asking in our scripture reading this morning is perhaps the most important we can ever ask: "What is the Purpose of Life?". What is it all about? Why am I here? How can anyone discover the meaning of life?
It's important to know my purpose in life because, when I don't, that can have some very negative repercussions.
Here in our scripture reading, 1st chap - Eccles, Solomon says there are 4 things that happen, when you don't know your purpose in life.
1. Life seems pointless. The very 1st statement Solomon makes: "Everything is meaningless, completely meaningless! What do people get for all their hard work under the sun" You spend your whole life working and toiling away, and what do you have to show for it? If you don't know the meaning of life you may as well just sleep in! What's the use? The world just stays the same anyway. Life seems empty and useless if you don’t why you are here.
2. Life seems tiresome. When we don't understand the purpose of life, we can feel like we're just spinning our wheels, & running in circles. We feel like we're on a treadmill going nowhere. "The sun rises and the sun sets… The wind blows to the south & then turns to the north.. All things are wearisome, more than one can say"
Without purpose, life just seems like one big circle. Just about the time you take down the Christmas lights, it's time to put them back up. We're just going in circles and it seems tiresome -- everything leads to weariness.
3. Life seems unfulfilling. As Mick Jagger complained: “I can’t get no? -satisfaction”. No matter how much we see, we're never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we're not content. We get restless. If you don't realize how restless people are, just put a remote control in their hand when they're watching TV! I read this week that the average person will change channels 350,000 times in their lifetime -- And so Solomon says, "There's nothing new under the sun. I've seen it all, I've heard it all, I'm bored with life."
4. Life seems uncontrollable. v15 "What is crooked cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted." He's referring to things that are beyond our control. Have you ever tried to straighten out something that was crooked? A relationship that just refused to be straightened out? Have you ever tried to solve a problem that you just couldn't figure out? Solomon says eventually we all come to a point in life when we realize: life is out of our control. There are some things in life, no matter how hard you try, you just can't fix them.
And so Solomon comes to the conclusion in this 1st chapter that if you don't know the purpose of life, eventually it all becomes meaningless & unfulfilling.
When you don't know the point of life, you really only have 3 options:
1. Speculation. You can try to make up some kind of meaning. A lot of people do this. Intuitively, we know that we were made to have something at the center of our life. If people don't have God in their life, they have to find something else to fill that void at the center. And so the focus of their life may become making money, or being successful at their work, or excelling at sports, or whatever. People will always try to find something that gives meaning to their life.
2nd option: Diversion. Later in Eccl 8:15, Solomon concludes “So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life.” That is a perfect summary of many people’s attitude to life in our culture today.
If life has no ultimate meaning, then we may as well enjoy it while it lasts. Eat a good meal, watch a good movie, have sex, take drugs. Whatever helps you to escape the drudgery of life. But for many this ultimately leads to addiction, futiility and despair. For some the only real escape is to end it all. We seem to have an epidemic of suicide right now, especially among young people. Why? Because if you don't know the meaning of life, the ultimate result is despair.
But there is a 3rd option: Revelation. If you really want to know your purpose in life, you have to go back to the one who created you in the first place. You see the real question is not “What is my purpose in life?” The question is: “What is God’s purpose for me?” What did He put me on this earth for? You see, the purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment. It’s far greater than your own happiness or even your own peace of mind. You were made by God, you were made for God, and you were put here for His purpose. And until you understand that, life isn’t going to make sense.
Prov 16:4 (NLT) “The Lord has made everything for his own purposes” God has a purpose for everything he has created, including you and I.
What is that purpose? Eph 1:4-5:
“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure."
What is the point of life? It says here that you were made to be loved by God. You were created as an object of God's love. He made you because He wants you to be a part of His family, and one day He's going to gather everybody who is a part of His family, and we're going to live forever with Him. Forever! If you don't get anything else this morning, then I want you to get this: What is the purpose of life? Life is preparation for eternity. You were made to live for eternity. It says, "He has set eternity in the hearts of men." You were made to live forever. It is an understatement to say that God has long range plans for your life. His plans are not just for the 60, 70, 80 years you live here on earth, but forever and ever and ever. You're made to last forever. Life here on earth is preparation for eternity.
Now I know that goes contrary to most of what the world teaches us. The world says to live for today, & don't worry about the consequences. But the Bible teaches us that what we do today, has eternal consequences. If we are to understand the purpose of life, we need to have an eternal perspective. You need to use this life, God says, to prepare for all the rest of eternity. How do I do that? Let me suggest 4 things God wants you to do with your life, that help us to define the purpose of life.
1. Establish a relationship with God. That's the first thing. How do I do that? John 1:12 "To all who receive Him, Christ gives the right to become children of God." Accept what Christ has done for you, allow him into your life, and get into God's family. Once we establish a relationship with Christ, then we then need to get to know him. To have any relationship, involves knowing that person, trusting that person, communicating with that person, listening, spending time together. You establish a relationship with God the exact same way. Spending time with Him, talking with Him, listening to Him through His word. God wants you to have a relationship.
If he wanted to, God could just take us to Heaven the moment we accept him. But he doesn't do that, because he has other purposes for our lives here on earth. He leaves us here for three other reasons:
2. He intends that we become like Christ. In our thinking, in our behavior, in our inner character. “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son“ Rom 8:29
The Bible tells us that life is a school of character development. God wants to use everything that happens in your life to build Christ-like character in you for eternity. Love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self control. These are some of the character qualities God wants to build in your life. He wants to make you like Jesus. If you want to know what God wants you to be like, just look at him. This has been God's goal from the very beginning. It's not anything new. In the very first chapter of the Bible, Genesis 1, God says "Let us make mankind in our image."
The Bible says that everything that happens in your life, once you are a believer, God is using to help you get to know Him and become like His son Jesus.
We need to understand that so that when painful & difficult experiences come into our lives, then we can realize what God is doing. He's working on your life to make you like Jesus Christ. That purpose has never changed. You say, "Doesn't God want me to be happy?" Of course He does. But not at the expense of preparing you for eternity. And God is far more interested in your character than He is in your convenience and comfort. This is just the first inch of life. The character you build now you'll enjoy for the rest of eternity.
3rd thing God wants me to do is to use my life in serving others. Jesus said, "If you try to save your life you'll lose it, but if you give your life away, you'll find it." The person who holds on to his life, who tries to just live for himself, is the person who is unsatisfied, unfulfilled, finds no meaning in life, bored, doesn't find the true existence. But the person who gives his life away, who is willing to give up his life here and now for others and for God, he is the one who will find life to be fulfilling and signficant. And so God wants you & I, while we're here on earth, to learn to think of other people and not just ourselves. God has given each of us talents and abilities and He wants us to develop them. Meaning in life comes from serving. If you don't realize that, then you're missing the point of life.
4. Share life's purpose with other people. 2 Corinthians 5:19 "This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others." Why does God leave you here on earth after you become a believer? He wants you to share the good news. To tell others.
Here at our church, we are committed to helping you find God’s purpose for your life. We want to help you establish a life-changing rel'ship with Christ, to get to know him, to learn how to serve others, and share your faith, so that God's purpose is realized, and you can be equipped to serve him.
The greatest tragedy is to live your entire life without ever knowing the point of it. But you don't have to live like that. You can take that first step and begin that relationship with God today. Begin living for the purpose God made you for.