Ultimate Questions, part 3
Why Do We Exist?
Why are you alive or what is your reason for being? Do you ever consider this? It’s important you do lest you waste your life.
As we look around, there are no shortage of answers. Yet often the answer is more lived out than written down, more demonstrated than articulated. Four flawed answers seem to exist.
Some see their reason for existence as accumulation of pleasing possessions and earthly treasures, as if life were nothing more than a long money making enterprise where the next purchase brings joy and the one with the most toys wins. Why else would two people build a house of enormous dimensions, far beyond anything they could ever need or use? And then attach to that house a four car garage to keep cars and toys they could seldom drive? More and bigger and better is never enough because this is not our reason for existence.
Perhaps the pleasure of entertainment is. Make me laugh or cry, get scared or excited or at least pay attention! Music and movies, video games and web sites, books and sports, scintillating romance novels to cliff hanging who dunnits, reality t.v. to political fireworks all become demanded forms of more entertainment. We must surely be the most visually stimulated and entertainment saturated culture in the history of the world! 300 satellite channels and nothing to watch. Thousands of songs on our wrist. Endless video streaming on demand.
In the endless pursuit of amusement, work becomes a necessary evil to keep the entertainment coming, which more and more people pursue while at work. Some workplaces now require phones be turned in first. Thinking is downplayed and entertainment pursued so we don’t have to think. We watch reality TV to escape our own reality. Family is often a hindrance or outright barrier to the next visual and audio adrenaline rush.
As technology expands, the possibilities boggle the mind and frighten the soul. With enough money, you can almost live in a virtual world, indulging in every form of vice and entertainment you can imagine through digital deception and virtual reality. The cry is no longer, “Give me liberty or give me death.” It’s “give me noise, or give me death” or “give me screens or give me death.” Neil Postman was right. We are amusing ourselves to death.
Do we eat to live or live to eat? Food and drink seems to be the reason for many to get up each day. Everything is planned around food. Thoughts are consumed by what’s next to consume. The obesity problem in America has many layers, but usually it’s a heart problem that causes heart problems. We get up from the table and start grazing. Food isn’t fuel, it’s entertainment for the palate.
As vital spiritual life slips into a carb-induced coma, we are left with the physical pleasures and desires. And high up on that list is food and drink. Pay attention to how many restaurants dot our landscape, to how many food and drink commercials flood our airwaves, to how food is portrayed and elevated and even idolized in those commercials. After tasting some variation of a taco, one commercial actress says “mind blown.” Really? A chaulupa or tacolupa can blow your mind? What does that say about that mind?
Others react to the above and live for people. Whether their own kids or those in Africa or suffering souls at the homeless shelter, some see the folly of materialism, amusement, and gluttony and decide they exist to serve other people, to even live for other people (there are a thousand varieties of this).
Certainly this is a better, more noble path on the surface, yet something isn’t right if mankind is the center of your world. The quickest path to pain and disappointment must surely be living to help people as your ultimate reason for getting out of bed. Sooner rather than later, we all disappoint, respond poorly or ungratefully use others. People matter, but only in the right order.
Consider a better path. If we are made in God’s image and came from His loving hand, then the answer to why we exist becomes evident. We exist because God gave and sustains our life. We exist because the Creator of the universe wants us to exist. We exist from Him, through Him and for Him.
If there is no God, if life is simply survival of the fittest with no afterlife, then we are nothing but dust in the wind, merely higher forms of animals and nothing we do matters. End of article.
But if God is real and personal and if we were hand-crafted by this Master as the Bible reveals, then there is ultimate purpose in life as determined by our Inventor, not us.
The truth book answers this question like this:
“For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” I Cor. 6:20
“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I Cor. 10:31
“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” Romans 11:36
We exist to glorify or honor God, to bring Him fame, attention, praise and worship to Him, not to ourselves. As Christians and His beloved children, we exist to be known and loved by God through Christ and then to know and love Him in return. This is the primary way we glorify Him. Nothing but Bible-saturated, Spirit-filled, gospel-centered Christianity can give anyone the meaning for life she craves. In this way only can we fulfill our purpose and then rightly love and serve people.
You can try to glorify a Corvette, a rib-eye steak or the Spurs, but in the end the Vette will rust, the steak turns to waste and the Spurs don’t win the Finals way more than they do.
You can try to glorify your children or grandchildren, but look close enough and you will see the warts and flaws of fallen sinners and mere creatures, weak and frail.
You can try to live in a hall of mirrors, but all you will know is emptiness and smallness of heart. We die a thousand deaths living to honor self because the creature wasn’t created to honor the creature. The creature was created to point to God and say – isn’t He great and awesome? Isn’t He good and beautiful? Isn’t He altogether glorious?
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Unless otherwise noted, all posts are written by Pastor Chris McKnight