What’s the bestselling book of all time? You guessed it: it’s the Bible. But what about the second-bestselling book of all time? Many of you have heard the answer: Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life. The book’s popularity attests to the fact that we all have a deep longing to discover the purpose for which we exist. What is life’s purpose? Why are we here?
None of us can reflect on the deepest existential questions on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. Of necessity, we’re engrossed in the daily tasks of getting the kids to school, doing our work, and keeping our marriage healthy and strong. But once in a while, it’s important for us to sharpen our spiritual and mental vision and focus so we can live more fully in line with our life purpose.
What Do People Say the Purpose of Life is?
Just like Jesus asked his followers, “Who do people say that I am?” it’s interesting to see how people in our culture answer the question regarding the purpose of life. So what do people say the purpose of life is? For some, the purpose of life is just having fun. Others may admit that they don’t know or are confused about what gives life meaning. Yet others may say what gives them meaning is doing good for others. A common answer is that family and friends is what life is all about, or that to live life to the fullest, you must embrace a transcendent cause.
What Do You Say? And What Does the Bible Say?
The Bible is a story about God entering into relationship with his creation. It provides compelling answers to four major questions: Why are we here? What went wrong? What did God do to make things right? And: Where are we going? In reading the biblical narrative on life’s purpose, the opening two chapters of Genesis, the following reflections come to mind.
Why Are We Here?
1. Genesis is the beginning of a love story: God fashioned us and loves us.
2. God wants us to live in his presence; he is our loving heavenly Father.
3. God made us for a purpose: he made us to be like him and wants us to reflect his glory.
4. God put us in charge and commissioned us to rule the earth for him
5. We are dependent on our Creator and should trust him.
6. God made a beautiful, orderly universe.
7. God prizes unity and harmonious relationships.
8. God made humanity male and female, and he made marriage for life.
9. God delights in children and families.
Where to Go from Here
There are 3 major takeaways from our reflection on the first two chapters of Genesis. Why are we here? And what gives our life purpose and meaning? I’ll leave you with the following application points.
1. Everything takes on meaning when we do it for God, whether family or work. Therefore, let’s consciously live for him, and do so with integrity and excellence.
2. We’ve been created to live life the way God intended: properly related to him, to one another, and to the world he has made. In large part, life is about God-honoring, God-centered relationships.
3. The goal of our mission is to help restore God’s order and supreme reign over the universe as we move toward a new creation.
When I was converted, my first thought was: What’s next? Now that I was saved, what was left for me to do while I was still on this earth? God did not merely save us, he gave us a calling, a purpose, a mission, in keeping with his overall purpose and mission for this world. What’s your purpose in life? Reading the first couple chapters of Genesis and pondering the reflections and takeaways listed above would be a great place to start.
Note: This is the essential outline for a LIFE class lesson I taught recently at Providence Baptist Church. The basis for our curriculum is the book Life on Mission, to whom some of the terminology above is indebted. Thanks also to the pastors of Providence Baptist Church for their work on this curriculum.