Saturday, September 4, 2010

What is Our Purpose in Life

So much in life depends on having strong foundations to your thinking.  Every decision you make and every goal you pursue must have a reason behind it.  Forming a coherent view of the world will make these decisions and goals much easier to arrive at, lending a strong purpose to your life.  Even the most joyful and un-depressed of us need a reason to live, otherwise our lives are shallow and empty and we are doing things for mere selfish happiness.

First, let me look at how you might find an accurate view of the world.  Then, I will show you my view, some of how I arrived at that view, and what that view does for giving me purpose and direction.

How to find an accurate view of the world
I’m assuming, of course, that we would want an accurate view of the world (and existence as a whole).  If we didn’t then that means we are happy to live in self-delusion rather than potentially shattering our false reality.

There are a number of things that a world view needs to address.  Here are a few of those things:
  1. Where did everything in existence come from?
  2. What is the nature of man?
  3. Does God really exist?
  4. If God exists, what is His nature?
  5. What is the meaning of life?

Some places that people look to answer these questions are friends, parents, books, religion, experiences in life, studies, etc.

In order to form an accurate view of the world you need to accept that there is a true reality and that it can be know to at least some extent.  Otherwise, why bother looking?  Better to remain in self-delusion again.

So the search for an accurate view of the world is really a search for truth about the world/universe.

My view of the world and how I arrived at it
I am a bible believing Christian so my answers to the above 5 questions are:
  1. God made it (except Himself because He is not subject to creation as a being who exists outside of creation)
  2. Currently, man is in a fallen state of existence and is wicked down to the core of his character.  Though he might perform “good” deeds, he does so without the proper motivation.  Those who are new creations have been fixed of this core wickedness but this fixing will see completion at a later date (when Jesus returns).
  3. Yes.
  4. God is holy (something completely different and special from everything else), God is good, God is just, God is merciful, God is in control of everything.  God is a whole lot more than any description man gives to Him.
  5. The purpose of man is to glorify God through lives of worship.  Enjoying the life of worship is so closely related to glorifying God that amounts to the same thing, but God’s glory must come before our happiness, otherwise we can never truly be happy.

How I arrived at this view amounts to the same as how I became a Christian.  This story has many facets but I’ll give one side that is relevant to the above.

I figured that the universe doesn’t come from nothing and that it couldn’t exist without some reason.  This led me to believe in a Creator.  The order in the universe (largely seen through a science background) led me to believe in truth.  The search for truth led me to the bible as a source of truth, which after reading convinced me that it was the source of truth.  I saw the truth of myself as a wicked person at heart, I desired to change, and then the glory of the cross gave rise to a light inside of me that has been at work ever since.

How that view gives me direction and purpose
Every decision I make can be brought down to one key principle that is applied using the question: “Which decision will give the greatest glory to God?”  While there might be some work in deciding where the greatest glory for God will come, it gives a starting point for every problem, question, and choice that is before me in life.  All obstacles become manageable.

Through the lens of this question, I can learn how to deal with all of my thoughts, words, and deeds to bring them into line with the purpose of my life.  It becomes easy to make moral decisions because all I have to do is frame the outcomes of each choice with God’s glory.  That’s how I can say that killing someone is wrong, because it is effectively defacing the image of God (in which He created man).  That’s how I can say that war is, at times, justifiable; because it is protecting those who are unable to protect themselves from harm, and they are also made in the image of God and deserving of protection.  The greater glory is to kill those who deface the image of God in their unjust actions.  Because God is a God of justice, I know that I can take action to ensure that justice is done, even if it means causing a civil war.

Other world views have their own answers to the questions I listed.  Some are quite shocking in their moral outcomes.  I would suggest that you need to do a bit of searching if you can’t answer any of those questions for yourself.  It would mean that you have a fairly shallow life that is more about bouncing around in a reactionary way, purely influenced by the culture of the world around you and not by rational thought.  Don’t live a life that revolves around a deluded view of reality.  Search for the truth.  It will bring you lasting happiness when you find it and when it frees you!