A Life Worth Living
For those who believe in God, it is understood that there is meaning and purpose in life. We are not here by accident or pure chance, but by God’s design and intent. God’s revealed word, the Bible, also answers for mankind the three great questions of life: Where did we come from? Why are we here? and Where are we going? The God-given answers to those questions tell us life is not by accident or by pure chance, but by God’s purposeful design; that being true, life itself has purpose.
One wise man sought meaning and purpose in earthly pursuits and concluded, “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13), because everything else was “vanity” — useless. Those who reject and deny the idea of God’s existence deny this and look for meaning in other things, but it still seems like a useless pursuit, if honestly evaluated. In a series of interviews with professing atheists,1 there was a variety of answers as to the ‘meaning of life,’ and those answers are revealing. Consider just a few:
Jerry Coyne, evolutionary biologist: “People like me don’t worry about what it’s all about in a cosmic sense, because we know it isn’t about anything. It’s what we make of this transitory existence that matters.”
Susan Blackmore, psychologist: “There isn’t any point. And somehow, for me – I know it’s not true for other people – that is really comforting…I find that comforting, to say to myself that there is no point, I live in a pointless universe. Here I am, for better or worse, get on with it.”
Dr. Adam Rutherford, geneticist: “A meaningless universe does not mean we live our lives without purpose.…I try to live my life replete with purpose. Be kind; learn and discover as much as you can; share that knowledge; relieve suffering when you can; have tons of fun.”
Robyn Vinter, journalist: “All I know is we’re here and we might as well not have a horrible time, if we can help it. I do feel that life is ultimately pointless, but I honestly don’t care. I’m just squeezing as much happiness out of it as I can.”
Dr. Buddini Samarasinghe, molecular biologist: “It means that I am free to do as I want; my choices are truly mine.”
I am not the most intelligent man who ever lived, but even I can see a common thread in all these answers: All state in one way or another that the absence of a Creator and Supreme Being [God] means an absence of purpose, so make life whatever you want it to be. In other words, you are god. You answer to no one.
I also found it revealing that Dr. Rutherford began by saying, “It’s just self-centered and arrogant to think that there might be something that might bestow its secrets upon us if we look hard enough” -— and then answered in a way that showed himself to be “self-centered and arrogant” by asserting his life’s purpose was to “have tons of fun.” Of course, he alone can define what ‘fun’ is. Arrogance, indeed!
Let’s shift gears for a moment and address another false concept of the “meaning of life,” but for those who are believers and who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ. This false concept is the result of believing a greater and more widely-spread false concept of God’s plan for our salvation. First, the false concept of salvation commonly known as Calvinism says that God has already predetermined all the ones who will ever be saved, and because He has predetermined this, there is nothing they can do to change that. The consequential misconception that arises from this is the argument and claim that it doesn’t matter how a Christian lives [since it cannot affect his eternal salvation].
Some defenders of the Calvinist view of salvation will deny this is the logical result of their doctrine, or that anyone would ever even think such is the case, but this is merely an attempt to distract you from hearing that is exactly what some conclude, and argue. The Baptist preacher Sam Morris once wrote in a tract about the old ‘once saved, always saved’ concept of salvation, boldly stating in that tract, “all the sins [the Christian] may commit from idolatry to murder will not make his soul in any more danger.” I can add, too, that I was an eyewitness to a debate in the mid-1970s where a Baptist preacher asserted one night that he could [as a long-married man] “run off with that young lady there on the front pew” and it would not affect his eternal salvation. It is a conclusion that many have drawn from the false doctrine of Calvinism, and it gives a false sense of comfort to many millions who have accepted it as true.
But what does Scripture teach?
The apostle Paul believed it mattered how he lived. It was he who wrote, by Divine inspiration, no less, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). Paul believed that, as a Christian, he could no longer live for himself, but now lived for Christ. It mattered how he lived!
He would also write — by Divine inspiration — “those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:14, 15). Again, it is clear that Paul saw clearly that those who would call themselves followers of Christ must actually follow Jesus Christ by living for Him and no longer for themselves.
In his lengthy address to the Roman brethren, he reminded the brethren there that just as Jesus rose and lived for God, “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:10, 11), and went on to urge them to “not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Rom. 6:12, 13). In other words, Christians do not continue living to fulfill their fleshly lusts, but as instruments of righteousness to God.
The apostle Peter would also write, by Divine inspiration, about the Christian’s purpose in life now as a servant of the Lord, reminding us all that Christ died for our sins “that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness” (1 Pet. 2:24). Our purpose in life now is to live righteous lives before God and before all men — not to continue living however we want! Peter’s words echo the very message of the gospel that teaches us “that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11, 12). In other words, the life of one who professes to be a Christian is one that denies the worldly pleasures and seeks to live righteous, godly lives.
This also echoes the words of John’s father Zacharias, when he said that the fulfillment of God’s promises was upon them, “that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life” (Luke 1:74, 75). Again, the purpose of our lives, as Christians, is to live in holiness and righteousness, not in spiritual defilement and unholiness!
Do you want to live a life that is worth living? Live for God! Live for Christ! Live for holiness and righteousness! It matters how we live, for one day we will have to give an account (2 Cor. 5:10). — Steven Harper
1. The interview with the professing atheists can be found in the Online article “I Asked Atheists How They Find Meaning In A Purposeless Universe,” by Tom Chivers; www.buzzfeed.com