The question that often scratches at the soul – if and when we can slow down enough and quiet the noise of life enough to even consider it – is this: ‘What are we doing here?’ or ‘Why are we here?’ It’s a more specific question i think than the generic, ‘What’s the meaning of life?’, which has all but become cliche now. It’s the soul’s search for purpose in a world where philosophers wax eloquent but leave only fog and mist to cling to, and the strong voices of evolutionary science cry out, ‘Nothing! You have no ultimate purpose!’
The problem is that how you answer that question will shape your entire life. If you begin with the ‘fog and mist’ of philosophy and Oprah-isms, you chase after a lot of nice sounding, lofty ideals that end up not satisfying. And if you begin with the meaningless existence of evolution, life becomes about me alone and how much i can consume and enjoy before i die. Ironically, many who would espouse an evolutionary world view, live out a hypocritical existence of denying that life has any purpose, while at the same time campaigning against things like world hunger and oppressive regimes. If life truly has no purpose, doesn’t it then beg the question: why help anyone?
There is another answer to the question however, that is both life giving and able to live up to it’s promises. Life giving, because it tells us we absolutely have a purpose in life, and able to live up to it’s promises, because it is given by the Creator of life Himself. The shorter Westminster Catechism answers the question: What is the chief end of man? (viz. Why are we here?) with these words, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” So, according to this historic collection, we were created to glorify God and also to find joy/happiness/meaning in Him forever. A few Scriptures to back that up. Romans 11:36 states, “For from Him [God] and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever.”, and in Revelation 4:11 we read, “Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created.” In Psalm 16:11 David writes, “You make know to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” This ‘purpose’ for our creation could be fleshed out to a much larger degree of course, but we can infer (at least) from these Scriptures that any such popular notions today of God creating us because He a) needed us or because b) He was lonely, are completely false.
We learn further in the creation account in Genesis, that we were created as image bearers of God – both male and female (Gen. 1:27). This means then that we were both created for a purpose and that we have inherent dignity and value because – unlike anything else in creation – we carry the image of God. We (the human race) were also given dominion over the earth and told to care for it and fill it with more people (Gen. 1:28-30) so we have a ‘job’ to do as well; a ‘direction’ if you will.
Much (if not all) of this way of thinking flies in the face of our modern age that says we either set our own purpose, or we have no purpose at all. Beyond that, our rebellious, finite hearts are provoked by the idea that we were created for the glory of someone other than ourselves, and people end up making a lot of foolish sounding statements about God being ego-centric; ignoring the whole time that we have no issue at all with everything being about us!But when at last we see the goodness of God’s purpose for us, and consider the second half of His purpose for us as well – to find our life/purpose/joy/happiness in Him forever – we see that God is absolutely FOR us and has created us with our joy in mind. He didn’t create a choir to sing songs to Him or slaves to dote on Him. 2 Cor. 3:17 tells us that where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom, and in Galatians 5:1 we read that “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” God’s purpose for our lives is good because God knows that when we submit to Him and give glory to Him, we realign ourselves with the way He created the universe to work and life to work best. Beyond that, we see the goodness of God’s purpose because we are not alone in this life; left to wander and figure it all out for ourselves. Instead we have a loving Father who made us, gave us value and dignity, who set His love on us and redeemed us at great cost to Himself, and gave us a purpose that is about our ultimate joy.