THE SOURCE OF MEANING AND PURPOSE

The Bible describes people without God as 'lost'.

In our contemporary society we can see the deep meaning of this human lostness perhaps far more clearly than a few decades ago. A residual superficial veneer of Christian values still characterized much of the western world at that time and the prevailing optimism of secular humanism still anticipated a utopian world. Life still held some meaning. Life still held some purpose

Today, however, secular humanism, with its denial of all things supernatural, with its removal of all concepts of 'god', with its replacement of absolutes with relatives, has produced its logical and inevitable outcome: the removal of meaning and purpose.  

Despair, not hope, now characterizes human existence. Depression holds many in merciless bondage. Young people and old struggle to find an identity, a purpose, something, anything, to give meaning to their lives. They look at life, with its pain and its struggles and its inevitable termination in death, and wonder what on earth is the point of it all.

The lostness is deep, deep within, and it is very dark. The human heart cries out: Who am I? Where have I come from? What am I here for? Where am I going? What is my life worth? The high suicide rates, the normality of escape into addictions, the increasing levels of both anger and angst prevalent in our society ... all of these indicate the frequency with which these questions are being silently asked and given a nihilistic answer: There is no meaning, no purpose, no identity, no truth, no absolute value.

The removal and denial of God has also removed and denied the meaning, purpose and dignity of human life.

Yet the Bible gives high meaning and value to human existence, indeed to every human life.

In Isaiah 43:7 God states that he created us for his glory; this endows human life with purpose.
In Genesis 1:26-27 we learn that God created us 'in his image'; this endows human life with identity and dignity.
Genesis 1 also teaches that God put humans in charge of the earth and its creatures.
Colossians 1:16 teaches that we are created by Jesus Christ and for Jesus Christ.

Creation by God is the source of meaning. When we remove God, and  the concept of creation by a personal God, then  the meaning and purpose of human life are automatically removed as well.

In removing God secular humanism seeks to honour the human - to ascribe to the human an intrinsic honour and dignity. It is an impossible goal for it is in conflict with the very nature which God imbedded in us when he created us: he created us to have a reflected glory, not an intrinsic glory, to be most truly human when we most fully image him. We are most glorious when we are reflecting his glory.  We cannot be what we were created to be while we are cut off from our Creator, for our purpose, meaning and dignity as humans is only possible in connection with our Creator.

A sail is nothing without a boat. It cannot achieve its purpose, it has no glory, no meaning, unless it is attached to the boat. It is a lifeless thing, even a useless thing. It cannot do what it was created to do except it is connected to the boat. Similarly a human without God is robbed of meaning and purpose.

Jesus Christ, the perfect human, summed up his life this way: 'I have glorified you on earth - I have finished the work you gave me to do' [John 17:4]. At all points in his life Jesus lived in dependence on God and reflected the nature of God: he said the kinds of things God the Father says, he did the kinds of things God the Father does [John 5:19-21], he aligned himself the will [John 6:36] and the nature of God the Father, to such an extent that he said: he who looks at me sees the Father [John 12:45].

We might, in our ego-centric thinking, object to this concept that we are to find the meaning of our lives in glorifying God. Yet Jesus Christ considered glorifying God his number one priority ... and he, of all men who have ever lived, has been most honoured by other men.

Creation teaches us, and Jesus Christ demonstrates to us, that the meaning and purpose of human life is this: that we are here to glorify God: to image or reflect God. It is when we glorify him in our lives that we are most truly and most fully human.