Why Discovering What We’re Here For Means You Don’t Miss Out
Desperate times call for desperate measures, especially during a nation-wide lockdown.
In some towns people have tried to satisfy their fast food cravings by going through the McDonald’s drive-through on bikes or simply on foot. Can you imagine the faces of the Maccas drive-through staff? The reason this kind of behavior strikes us as funny is because walking through a drive-through defeats its explicit purpose. That’s not what they’re made for!
Practically everything has a purpose. Imagine a potato-masher being used as a hammer and a hammer being used as a potato-masher. You might eventually get a nail in wood and yummy mashed potatoes, but it will involve a far longer, ineffective and more frustrating process than if you had kept the tools’ true purposes in mind. In the same way, figuring out our own life purpose keeps us from wasting our lives on unworthy ambitions.
In his book ‘Case for a Creator’ Lee Strobel asks, “Wouldn’t it be strange if a universe without purpose accidentally created humans who are so obsessed with purpose?”. The obsession is everywhere, obvious or undercover. If you think about the characters in the books or series you binge, chances are good that they’re trying to figure out what their lives are about. Which is fair enough – purpose is a powerful propeller! Whatever we settle on as our ultimate reason for living becomes our main driving force, whether that’s fighting for social justice or simply being liked.
What makes things tricky is that we’re told conflicting stories about our purpose.
On the one hand, there’s what we hear from many: that we are here by sheer chance, the result of a random atom mashup. Sure, you can make up some kind of meaning for life if it gets you through. But the fact is that we have no inherent purpose beyond keeping the human race going, or so we’re assured. Sound bleak? It is.
On the flipside, there’s what we all experience: a strong pull towards living as if life isn’t pure accident or survival of the fittest. Our Spotify songs, social media feeds, and late night chats betray our intuition that we’re more than a cosmic fluke. That there is meaning to our relationships and efforts, to our loves and losses. They hint that we’re here for a reason, hopefully a good one.
Do you think the people around you are clear on that reason? Are you?
If not, you’re in good company. About a third of Kiwi university students either admittedly don’t know their purpose or they believe there is none. When you’re lacking purpose, the next questions are “So what am I doing in life?” and “What’s the point?”. Some people even spiral down to “Why bother?”. Then when they don’t find a good enough reason, they stop bothering. Stop living. And we grieve as we bury them.
Chronic uncertainty over what you’re living for.
Believing your life is meaningless.
Both have this in common: dwindling reserves of hope.
We’re not talking about wishful “she’ll be right” thinking here. We’re talking about the nitty gritty get-you-out-of-bed-on-the-roughest-of-mornings kind of hope. It’s the vital kind built on a well-placed confidence that things can and will get better in this life or the next. To truly live, we need this kind of hope the same way we need compelling purpose. Our attempts at making meaning for ourselves have a way of coming up empty, of crumbling under the weight of life’s complexities.
Yet what if we were gifted both by the author of it all?
Maybe you’ve never considered it before, but Jesus has a different story to tell about our purpose. He rejects the idea that we’re merely here by chance. Instead he makes a startling claim: that each person to ever exist is known, liked and deliberately designed by God. Why? It’s nothing short of staggering. Firstly, he wants us to enjoy a loving and authentic relationship with him. But we were also made because God wants us to play a vital role in the project given to the first humans: to harness our passions and skills to cultivate the world together, creating societies where all people (and animals) thrive and love life under his leadership.
Obviously we’ve made a right mess of that throughout history. Thankfully, that hasn’t stopped God from entering the mess in Jesus and making a way for us to be restored to our original purpose: relationship and partnership with him and others. His death and resurrection, attested to by a whole lot of eyewitnesses, give us hope for a future so epic that it makes whatever pain we go through now both meaningful and bearable. But that’s a subject for another post.
Perhaps you don’t know what to make of your purpose and you’re wondering “What’s the point?”. The point is this: that Jesus wants you to know him and go through the rest of your life fueled by the gritty hope and purpose only he can provide.
A purposeful and hope-fuelled life: that’s what Jesus gives us. If we’ll receive it, that is.
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Not sure what that looks like? To learn more about what having a relationship with God involves, check out this page.