What is the purpose of life? How to find your purpose, meaning in life? What is the God driven life? Life is a journey or at least that’s what I’ve heard. Rabbi Alvin Fine famously began his poem, Sympathy, by writing, “Birth is a beginning / And death a destination / And life is a journey.” And though I’d agree with the Rabbi that birth is a beginning and life is a journey, as a Christian I take issue with the idea that death is a destination. While in Jerusalem, Jesus told the crowds that real death – spiritual death – is something we experience every day. Death is all around us – it isn’t something we only encounter when we breathe our last. We are the walking dead. A close friend once confided in me, “I don’t understand why we’re here. We live, we suffer, and we die. What’s the point?”
Questions about purpose of life
What is the point? That question has plagued humanity since creation.
- Science tells us that the point is passing on our genetic information.
- Buddhism tells us that the point is Nirvana.
- Consumerism tells us that the point is self-fulfillment.
- And Nihilism tells us that there is no point, so why bother?
So is there a point? And if so, what is it? Why are we on this journey of life? And is there a destination or are we all simply wandering around until we collapse and die?
According to Christianity, there is a purpose to life. Jesus and his early followers taught that God has something in mind for all of creation: redemption, peace, and abundant life. But this kind of life is more than hearts beating and lungs breathing. True life isn’t biological – it’s spiritual. And our destination and purpose of life isn’t a hole in the ground – it’s a feast at God’s table.
Life is a journey. But death isn’t the destination. God is. He is our purpose of life.
Life is a journey. God is the destination. He is our purpose of life.
So, if that’s true, how do we get there? How can we enter into the throne-room of creation’s king? How can we meet and get to know the God who made us? Does anyone really know the way?
Someone once told me that an atheist asked them why God didn’t appear physically to humans. The Christian responded, “He did. And they nailed him to a cross.” But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Before we get to Jesus’ death, let’s talk for a bit about his life.
Finding God driven life meaning – Jesus life
The Hebrew prophet Isaiah spoke about Israel’s future king – it’s Messiah – in grand, sweeping terms. Listen to his words as he looks forward to the day when the true king of Israel will finally establish his rule: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6 ). Isaiah saw this king as more than simply a king. He gave him titles that only God could properly wear: “Mighty God” and “Everlasting Father”.
But could it really be? Would God himself come and show humanity the way to his presence? According to Jesus, that’s exactly what he did. This is part of the reason Jesus healed so many bodies and performed so many miracles. He wanted to leave no doubt in people’s minds that he had the power and authority of God behind him.
Who is Jesus?
Jesus came to show humanity the way to life’s true purpose. To show God driven life mission. But who would believe a poor Galilean Jew? The Jews thought they knew the way: the law given to Moses. Likewise, the Romans thought they knew the way: leading a good life. And both groups of people had big names backing them up. The Jews had Moses and the prophets. The Romans had all of Greek philosophy.
By doing things that no man could do – things like raising the dead, calming storms, multiplying food, and healing every kind of sickness – Jesus was giving evidence that he had real authority. He knew the way to God because he had God’s seal of approval on his life.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
There’s an interesting conversation that takes place between Jesus and his disciples in John’s Gospel. Jesus predicts his upcoming death by saying, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going” (John 14:2-4). Think about what Jesus is saying here. He’s telling his friends that life’s ultimate destination and purpose of lilfe is a house – God’s house. Then, he tells them that they already know the way.
But, this just leaves them confused. So a puzzled Thomas says, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” (John 14:5). Like many people today, Thomas realizes that life has a destination and purpose. He even realizes that our true purpose of life can only be found in God. But, Thomas throws his hands up and says, “How can we know the way?”
How do we get to God? There’s no tower high enough to reach him. God doesn’t have a telephone number or an e-mail address. There is no road that leads to God’s house. So how do we make it there?
Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t leave Thomas and the other disciples wondering. He responds, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6-7). This is extraordinary! Jesus says that he is the way to God. But…what exactly does that mean?
Thomas, still confused, says, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (John 14:8).
What does Jesus mean when he says that he is the way?
Let’s stop for a moment and review what we’ve learned so far. Life has a destination. That destination is God’s house. And Jesus is the way there. But we’re left with a really important question – perhaps the most important question: what does Jesus mean when he says that he is the way?
This is the question that drives Thomas to say, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Thomas is basically saying, “If you’re the way, then lead us there! Let’s go right now!”
But Jesus doesn’t put his sandals on and say, “Alright then, come on, let’s head out to God’s house.” He says something far more interesting.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.’” (John 14:9-11).
Before we move on, go back and read that passage again. Okay, do you see what Jesus says here? He says that when we look at him, we look at God himself. When we hear Jesus speak and act, we see God speak and act. Jesus is the way to God because Jesus is God in the flesh.
And if anyone knows the way to God, it’s God. He is the purpose of life.
What is our destination?
So what did Jesus actually say about life’s destination? I mean, there’s a whole book that Christians read and believe. What does it really mean for us to make our way to God’s house? What is God’s house like? Is it a building? A state of mind? A bunch of clouds where we all play harps?
The New Testament uses several metaphors to describe our destination and purpose of life. Though there are two in particular that seem to come up again and again.
As we’ve already seen, Jesus describes our purpose of life and destination as the house of God. And when he spoke of a house, he meant more than just a dwelling place. God’s house is where God’s household lives. It’s a place for people. And not just any people – God’s family. So, the first metaphor we find in the pages of the New Testament is that of a family.
But there’s another one. In his first sermon, Jesus preaches, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). So our ultimate destination isn’t just a new family. It’s also a new kingdom – a new nation.
These two metaphors are used constantly within the pages of the New Testament. For example, in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul writes, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). Paul sees Christians as being part of a new family, “the household of God”, and a new nation, “fellow citizens with the saints.”
Likewise, Peter is able to write that “it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God”, referring to the church (1 Peter 4:17). But he also describes Christians as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” (1 Peter 2:9).
What is the purpose of life, meaning of life, mission of life? God desires for all humanity to enter into his family, a new nation that he is building from the ground up. This is our purpose of life and our destination. And the way in is not through a series of complicated rites, rituals, or classes (however useful those things may be). The way in is Jesus Christ.
But what exactly does this mean? I’ve found it helpful, when thinking about entering God’s Kingdom, to think about it in familiar terms. This is the reason, after all, that God speaks in metaphors throughout the Bible. He uses things that we do understand to make sense of the things that we don’t. So, what does it mean to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven through Jesus Christ?
There are many people who wants to get citizenship of other countries. No matter how much they want it, they must go through the proper channels and put in the required effort, time, and money before they can turn that desire into a reality. In the same way, citizenship into the Kingdom of God is something that must be entered through the proper channels.
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
Jesus once told his disciples, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9). He made it clear that citizenship in the Kingdom could only be obtained by going through him. He’s the office of immigration and naturalization for God’s Kingdom and as a result, if we want to be part of that nation, we must go through Jesus.
Fortunately, rather than fill out countless reams of paperwork, take civics classes, and complete a citizenship test, entry into God’s Kingdom is contingent on one action: belief. When Paul was asked by the Philippian jailer about the process of entering God’s Kingdom, Paul responded simply, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). When we come to God in faith, we are instantly “translated into the Kingdom of His dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). We don’t have to wait in any lines or take any tests. And we don’t have to enter a probationary period or experience second-class status for a period of time. We go from citizens of the Kingdom of Darkness to members of the heavenly community, this is our purpose of life and our God driven life mission.
Give up this world to enter God’s Kingdom
Let’s follow this metaphor a little more and see if it can illuminate our understanding of our relationship to the Kingdom of God further.
The United States is a nation that allows dual citizenship. If someone moves there from Australia and wants to enjoy the benefits of being a member of both counties, he can legally to do so. Some nations, however, don’t allow dual-citizenship. After all, if someone is a citizen of two nations, where does his ultimate loyalty lie?
Loyalty is an important part of what it means to have citizenship and our ultimate allegiance can only in two directions as long as both nations are in total harmony. But what happens when a disagreement occurs? When dissension rises, a person’s true loyalty reveals itself. At that moment, it won’t matter whether he has legal citizenship in both countries, his actual citizenship will be made clear
Unlike the United States, God doesn’t allow dual citizenship in his Kingdom. When John the Baptist said, “Repent!” he was saying, “Revoke your earthly citizenship.” If we want to be a part of God’s Kingdom, we must be willing to give up any claim we may have to earthly kingdoms. Jesus put it plainly when he told his disciples, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24). He made it clear that we can only have one true allegiance. We cannot split our loyalty down the middle or give fealty to both God and this world. We must choose.
If we want to enter God’s Kingdom, we must give up this world. If we want the world, we must give up God. No one can have both. Jesus’ brother James wrote, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4). Believing that we can be both citizens of this world and of God’s Kingdom is as absurd as thinking that someone could have served both the United States and Nazi Germany during World War II. We must choose a side. Which side will we join?
Jesus made the requirements of discipleship totally clear when he said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26). These are harsh words and almost sound unchristian. Is Jesus really telling us that we should hate our own family? I think he’s actually getting at something deeper.
As humans, we have a natural tendency to associate with and give loyalty to our own families and nations. It’s universal among human beings to give allegiance first to our families and then to our countries. You can think about it like this, what are people willing to sacrifice or even die for? Their families and their nations.
This is part of the reason that these two metaphors are used so much throughout the New Testament. Jesus is telling us that we are part of a new family and a new nation. And since that is so, our loyalties must shift. We’re no longer ultimately committed to our country or our kin. We’re first and foremost committed to God’s Kingdom.
And this brings us to an important final question. What does it mean to be committed to God’s Kingdom? You see, we’ve learned that we all have a destination and purpose of life – God’s Kingdom. We’ve learned that there’s only one way into that Kingdom – through faith in Jesus Christ. But then what? Once we’ve become part of the family and Kingdom of God, what happens? Do we just sit around waiting to die so we can go to Heaven? Or does being part of God’s Kingdom actually entail much more than just saying, “Yea, I’m a Christian.”
The answer to this question is found by understanding that faith means far more than simply agreeing with a statement. Faith includes the idea of trust and even faithfulness. A person of faith is a person who is committed to that which he has faith in. So faith is visible. It can be seen in our actions, words, and attitudes. True faith is evident in every word we speak and every decision we make.
True faith in Jesus recognizes our rebellion against God and Jesus’ death for our sins. But it doesn’t end there. That’s just the beginning. And though, in one sense, we reach our destination and purpose of life the minute we come to faith since we enter into God’s Kingdom at that moment. In another sense, we will spend the rest of our lives finding and pursuing that purpose of life and destination: living in the presence of God.
Purpose of life, finding a meaning of God driven your life mission, remember:
- Life is a journey.
- The journey of life have a destination.
- God’s Kingdom is the destination.
- God is our purpose of life.