MEANING AND PURPOSE TOPIC 2
What is the purpose of MY life?
What is the meaning of life? Indeed, what is the meaning of MY life? Does life have a purpose? Why did God create humans at all? This topic is one of the most liberating and inspiring for God’s children. It also provides the basis for profound discussions with non-Christian family and friends, because it taps into our fundamental human need for love, hope, freedom, joy and meaning. Indeed, understanding our God-ordained purpose, which is to give Him the glory He deserves, helps us to see how God’s plan for us answers all these deep-seated needs.
Many of us at some time in our lives will search for meaning in our lives. We look for meaning in our relationships, our work, our status, our causes, our wealth, our achievements. So many long to leave a legacy, something by which they will be fondly remembered. If death means that everything we have done and loved is ultimately meaningless, it’s an affront to our sense of meaning. The Coronavirus pandemic has focused our minds more clearly on death. Perhaps our friends are feeling this more as we watch people die and see lives changed forever.
But can we understand our true purpose and derive meaning if we don’t understand God’s purpose in creating humanity? God has created everything, including every human, to bring him glory.
God’s purpose in creating humanity is for us to see him for who he is in his magnificent holiness, to enjoy him and his creation, and to respond by deeply loving and honouring him above everything else. And we love him ultimately by living our lives for him. When we align our lives with God’s purpose, our lives will be meaningful and we will flourish, even when life becomes tough. And our purpose and meaning will be eternal.
The Bible is God’s love story of creation and redemption and his eternal plan to bring his people, who are flawed by sin, into an eternal relationship with him where we can enjoy him forever. As John Piper says “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”
As we explore the topic of Meaning and Purpose, our prayer is that you will gain a deeper understanding of God’s holiness and glory. And that as you draw closer to him and come to know him better, he will reveal the love, joy and freedom that comes from loving him more than anything else.
How to find meaning
“One characteristic that appears to be uniquely true of human beings is that we are meaning-seeking creatures. Our difficulty, however, lies in knowing where to find it.”
This opening statement by Dr Jo Vitale is particularly challenging to Christians because we so easily turn our gaze away from Christ. Vitale outlines 4 ways that we can seek meaning in our lives: through belonging, purpose, transcendence, and storytelling. But the great truth is that meaning does not come from what we do, but from what God did when he made us.
Our True Purpose
The truth of the Bible explains that our purpose in life comes from our creator and transcendent God. Our purpose is not transient. It is eternal and is the cornerstone of God’s plan in creation and salvation. We are designed to know God personally, to see his transcendent magnificence and to respond in thankfulness and love that gives him the glory that he deserves. In doing this we experience being loved by God, we experience his joy and peace and we have a sure hope of a magnificent future with our God that we love above everyone and everything else.
These podcasts from John Piper answer the questions:
What is the glory of God?
How should I respond as I come to understand the glory of God?
What is my purpose in life, and the purpose of all humanity?
How can I experience God and better understand His glory?
How can I live to give glory to God in my daily life?
THREE QUICK THINGS YOU CAN SAY
It seems like (your job, family, security … add what is important to them) is the most important thing in your life? Have I understood you? I’d love to understand why it’s important to you? How would you manage if you did not have this? Where do you think true meaning comes from?
Everything we chase after is ultimately unsatisfying and meaningless unless we know why we were created.
Just like everyone else, my life is not always easy or successful. But as a Christian, whatever I do, and no matter how hard it is, my life has meaning. I know that the purpose of my life is to bring glory to God. And I know that can never fail, because it is in his hands and not my own.
THREE WAYS TO TURN DISCUSSION TO THE GOSPEL
I look around at the world and see so much sadness, anxiety, conflict and pain and a deep sense of hopelessness. In Christ I have found true meaning in life and I feel deeply loved and free to live my life with purpose. I know life is not always easy, but my relationship with Jesus means that I can be content even when things get tough, because he has a perfect plan for my life and he’s promised me that I will enjoy this loving relationship with him forever.
We can never really understand the purpose of anything unless we understand why it's maker created it. Likewise we can never understand our purpose as human beings unless we understand why we were created the way we are. May I share with you what the Bible says about why you were created and why you exist? It brings a freedom that you may never have imagined possible.
Perhaps tell this old joke: There is a child crawling on the ground near a lamp post, looking for a lost coin. A passerby asks, “Where did you lose it?’ The child answers “Down near the corner.” The passerby asks “Then why are you looking here?” The answer of course is, “Because there is more light here!”
We can ask our friends whether the world’s answers have worked. Have the world’s purposes given us meaning? If not, is this because we haven’t got it right yet and we need to keep trying? Or is it perhaps because we are looking in the wrong place? Only God can give meaning and purpose to the life that He has created.
FIVE BIBLE PASSAGES CONCERNING MEANING AND PURPOSE
Ecclesiastes 1:13-14 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
Ecclesiastes 12:13b Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.
Proverbs 3:5-8 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
GROUP OR PERSONAL REFLECTION
Think about what it means to look for purpose and meaning in the things of this world, or to look for meaning inside yourself. What challenges do our non-Christian friends face as they attempt to do this? What do you think it would be like to live your life without believing that there was any purpose or meaning? How can you use these thoughts to frame a discussion with a non-Christian friend?
The purpose and meaning for our lives are ordained by God.
What do you understand about God’s glory? How would you describe it to a Christian friend?
How would you describe your personal response to gaining a deeper understanding of God's glory? Are there loves that you put ahead of loving God? How could knowing God better and understanding his purpose for your life change the way you live your life?
What did you take from John Piper’s description of how he reads the scriptures and experiences God?
How does understanding our purpose as God-given provide a freedom that the secular world cannot experience as they seek purpose and meaning without God?
What can you personally do to better reflect God’s glory to the world?
Think about some of your non-Christian friends; how could you ask them personally about what they find meaningful in lives?
How would you explain how God’s plan for creation brings you peace, joy, love, purpose, meaning and hope?
In one of the videos John Piper said that the vindication of God’s glory is the ground of our salvation and the exaltation of God’s glory is the goal of our salvation. What does this mean? How can we look over the complete Bible and see God’s purpose being played out?
In Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 the Teacher encourages us to do our duty, remembering that God is our judge. How does God's full plan for our salvation which is revealed in Jesus’ sacrificial love, enable us to live out his plan for our lives?
PRAYER FOR MEANING AND PURPOSE
I know that you created me to live for you and to give glory to you in everything. Lord God, you deserve the glory. You deserve my everything, purely because of who you are. I realise that I fail to give you the glory you deserve because I cannot fully comprehend you and I cannot fully appreciate your holiness and magnificence. Please help me to gain a deeper understanding of who you are. Please reveal to me your magnificence and your holiness each and every day so that my awe of you and my love for you grows daily.
I especially ask you to help me realise how much you love me and that your ultimate gift of love is a deep relationship with you, which is only available to me because Jesus paid the ultimate price for my sins when he willingly rescued me from the eternal death I deserve. Help me also to see how undeserving I am of your love, so that I may be more appreciative of you.
I want to serve you with my life so that everything I do and say brings honour and glory to you. I want to be content in you and rest in your love even when life is difficult. Lord I find this difficult and I know that I can only live my life this way in your strength and power. Therefore I ask for your grace each and every day so that my life is transformed and I can live out my true purpose of living my life for you.
Finally, I recognise the ultimate value of being forgiven and being your child, and I mourn that family and friends that I love do not know you. Please give me the opportunity, wisdom and words that I may speak about you and your magnificence and your love and share with them how you only can give them the hope, satisfaction, love and peace they are desperately seeking.
In Jesus' name. Amen.
What does the Bible say about the Purpose of Man (Humanity)?
The ultimate purpose of man (humanity), is to glorify God (Isaiah 43:7). We are to know him and make him known by glorifying Him with our lives. This article provides practical ways we can live out our purpose of giving glory to God.
The article concludes with this inspiring thought - the more we know God, the more we love him and understand his plans and purposes. We all have unique plans and purposes designed for us by God from before we were even born.Estimated read time: 2:36Author: Compelling TruthPublisher: compellingtruth.orgDate accessed: - 1/09/2020
The Meaning of Life - A Biblical Answer by Brandon Clay
Psychoanalyst Carl Jung wrote, “Really, I don’t know what the meaning or purpose of life is, but it looks exactly as if something were meant by it.” Brandon explains that unless we understand the nature of people - where we came from, where we’re going, or who made us - we are unable to understand our true purpose. He explains that every human will bring glory to God. This includes the wicked who will show God’s glory in his holiness and judgement (Proverbs16:4).
Brandon explains how our meaning and destiny are found in Jesus Christ and that we can only find meaning in our Creator and Saviour. He shows how Christ’s love secures our destiny through his death and resurrection. This guarantees that we will live forever giving glory to God in the new creation.Estimated read time: 7:0Author: Brandon ClayPublisher: Theolocast - terolocast.orgDate accessed: - 1/09/2020
Is Science the Answer to Death? A Secularizing Society Grapples With How To Think About Death During a Pandemic
In the first part of this podcast (and transcript) Mohler looks at scientific efforts to extend or transcend life, and reminds us that even curing Coronavirus will not defeat death but just delay it. When it comes down to the meaning of life or for that matter, the meaning of death, God has the last word.Estimated read time: 9:51Author: Albert MohlerPublisher: albertmohler.comDate accessed: 1/09/2020
The lies our culture tells us about what matters — and a better way to live
In this Ted talk David Brooks (not a Christian speaker) ponders what matters in life and why.
Brooks’ talk is very interesting for Christians: He identifies so clearly some of the lies that we fall for (eg That career success is fulfilling; That I can make myself happy; That you are what you accomplish), but then substitutes his own homespun alternative - that we can copy other community builders and fill the hole inside ourselves.
Of course we know this will not fill the God-shaped hole in our heart but perhaps some of our friends think like David Brooks.Duration: 14’46”Speaker: David BrooksPublisher: TED TalkDate accessed: 1/09/2020
Trusting God In Suffering, Sacrifice, Disease and Death: A Lost Art?
In this article Peter Adams looks to the lives of past believers and sees that they welcomed suffering as God’s gift. They could welcome death, knowing that ‘to die is gain’ (Philippians 1:22).
Our Western society has lost this perspective. Even some Christians can see suffering and death as “unmentionable”.
Instead we can face and embrace suffering, because those who fear God have nothing to fear.Estimated read time: 14:32Author: Peter Adam Publisher: The Gospel CoalitionDate accessed: 1/09/2020
Where is God in a Coronavirus World? - John Lennox
The Coronavirus pandemic prompted Oxford mathematician John Lennox to write a short book that imagines a coffee shop question, “Where is God in a Coronavirus World?” His reply points us to the sure and certain hope of the Christian worldview.
The book is available in a number of different formats, and a number of interviews are accessible on the internet.
Author: John LennoxPublisher: The Goodbook CompanyDate accessed: - 01/09/2020
Coronavirus and Christ
In his book, Coronavirus and Christ, John Piper invites readers around the world to stand on the solid Rock, who is Jesus Christ, in whom our souls can be sustained by the sovereign God who ordains, governs, and reigns over all things to accomplish his wise and good purposes for those who trust in him. Piper offers six biblical answers to the question, What is God doing through the coronavirus?—reminding us that God is at work at this moment in history.
We have included this book because death has become more real for some at this time and death is the ultimate decider about whether where we seek meaning and purpose is durable and substantive.
This page was posted on: 4/09/2020