What answer do you have for the following question: what is the meaning of life?
I think everyone has thought about this at one time or another. It is a basic question yet shrouded in mystery. Where do you even begin in solving the puzzle – is there a grand scheme and purpose behind life and living? I wish there were easy access to the answer.
If that question doesn’t work for you, how about going about it in a different way? Let’s not be so general in our approach. Let’s make things more personal: Why are you here? Why am I here?
I’m not saying that I am correct in my assertions, but here are some of my core beliefs on the subject.
First, I do not think I am here for the sole purpose of getting out. As a follower of Christ, my goal is not to entirely separate myself from a sinful and broken world so that I may ultimately earn my ticket to escape – evacuate – and find eternal rest and happiness in a heavenly abode.
Why the rush? What’s the hurry? Why so much focus upon leaving? Why would God purposefully put me in such a poor place only for me to be rescued from it all?
Some would say that the world is sinful, and use this as their rationale for escape.
Me? I believe that I was born “sinful.” I was “full of sin.” Please don’t laugh. I’m not talking about bad actions. What I’m talking about is a definition of sin as being self-centered, where everything is about me and my needs. We are all born that way.
Life gives us opportunities to grow to be less selfish and more giving – to learn to love. For me, Jesus Christ provides forgiveness, in part, so that I may forgive. He loves me so that I, in turn, may love others more fully and deeply. This helps me to grow spiritually. I believe this is one of the purposes of life.
There are daily opportunities for this to happens within God’s good creation. This is my classroom to learn, make mistakes, ask for forgiveness, relearn, and reapply.
So, my focus is not a self-serving, self-centered goal of getting out of this place – and to thank God for leaving poor, unfortunate souls behind. It is serving others to the best of my ability while I am here. How about you?
Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for more than 30 years.