What is the Meaning of Life?
For those who flat out deny the existence of God or even those who believe 'a god of some kind' is the cause behind our universe, there are plenty of things to occupy their lives apart from the bare essentials: They can seek meaning in building something, or endlessly pleasing their senses. Some have a penchant for games, gossip or sitcoms; others desire a lifetime in formal education. Others might seek the praises of their peers (or the power they can have over them).
But if this is all you spend your time pursuing, the following words might be an apt description of your life:
For since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse. 21For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened. [ Romans 1:20-21; The NET Bible. ]
In recent generations, some have imagined a new way to avoid thinking about our Creator: Searching for other life forms in our galaxy, in the hope they can tell us what life's all about; to help us fulfill this need we have for some 'purpose', and maybe remove some or all of our diseases, disasters and even give us a much longer life to do whatever we enjoy the most. Since people were created by a personal God, they'll always be seeking some way to fulfill their need to know and serve their Creator; even those who deny his existence.
If you believe in God, do you think our 'purpose in life' is to go to heaven? If so, why doesn't the Lord take us there as soon as we're redeemed by him? No, our purpose as Believers is to trust in and obey God to carry out whatever plan he has for us on this earth first, and then also in heaven. Now let's examine that purpose in detail:
Why Did God Create Us?
All errors in this essay are
copyright©2008, 2010 by Daniel B. Sedory; any wisdom, understanding
or encouragement you gain from it are blessings from the Holy Spirit working in your life, praise God!
Let my cry come before You, O LORD; Give me understanding according to Your word. [Psalm 119:169]
As a preface, I offer some advice I'm sure the Apostle John would have also recommended: Since we do not have the same nature as God, it is impossible for us to exhaustively understand anything about Him. This concept is clearly expressed in Isaiah 55:8-11:
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. 9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. 10 "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. [ New American Standard Bible, Updated edition, 1995. Unless otherwise noted, all Biblical quotations are from this version. ]
Analogies have been made to the differences between man and other creatures in an effort to explain how vastly different God's thoughts are from ours. But I believe the gap between God's mind and our own is in fact immeasurably greater than that of even an insect compared to the most intelligent human. However, because God created us "in His own image" (Genesis 1:27), that made it possible for us to have direct verbal communication with God! Thus, Adam could understand God when he was commanded not to eat "from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Genesis 2:17). And today we can still learn about God and all He wants us to know, through His written Word.
Think about how difficult it would be for an infant or even young child to understand the sum total of human knowledge, throughout all history. Then try to imagine the difficulty any of us would have in understanding any topic in the same manner as God does; it would be impossible for us to even begin to grasp! But Adam didn't need to have the same knowledge that God does, nor do we today; only that which is required of us to live for Him on this earth. And after Adam disobeyed God and brought sin into His perfect creation (Romans 5:12; cf. Genesis 3:17), God showed His love for us by promising a means of salvation from our sin. We know this, because God commanded His prophets to record the significant events in history leading to the realization of that salvation. About 2000 years ago, the Messiah took on human nature and lived among us. And at a time God had planned for all along, His human nature experienced death for all our sins. His apostles were then led by the Spirit to record everything God wanted us to know, about how to be saved and to live our lives for Him.
So continue to seek the LORD in the midst of all of your doubts and desires, and if you truly believe in Him, you'll find His answer to all your questions, and a peace which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Let's read a few more passages about God's nature and the relationship we have with Him from Psalm 40, Proverbs 3 and Psalm 147:
I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. 2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the LORD. 4 How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood. 5 Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count. [ Psalm 40:1-5 ]
Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. [ Proverbs 3:5-7 ]
He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. 5 Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite. [ Psalm 147:4-5 ] Also compare Isaiah 40:26 and Psalm 19:1 ("The heavens declare the glory of God"; KJV).
I can't help but point out, that mankind could only begin to realize the full implication of the phrases "He counts the number of the stars" and "gives names to them all" just 85 years ago. Think about the meaning of those words, now that we know there are more galaxies full of trillions of stars than all the individual stars we could see before that time! As our knowledge of the heavens has increased, so should our appreciation of the words from Psalm 147: God's understanding is infinite!
If we do indeed trust in the LORD (and why shouldn't we, since He's done so much for us!) and have read enough of His words in Scripture concerning His holy, eternal, loving and all-wise nature, then any issues which cause us difficulties in understanding, cannot shake our faith in Him. There are some, however, who would lead us astray from the truth of Scripture, some who believe the reason evil exists in this world is because God is not all-powerful (they believe He can not put an end to evil even though He desires to) or that He is not all-wise (that He really did not know what was going to happen, so couldn't have prevented Adam or Eve from sinning, though He should have)! Beware those who teach such things. As the prophet said in Isaiah 40:28, "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable."
Now my prayer for you would be the same as Paul's (and the Spirit's) in Titus 1:
For the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, 2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, 3 but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior. [ Titus 1:1-3 ]
I pray that each of you might find satisfying answers to your questions in Scripture. They may not be realized immediately, especially since it takes quite some time to read through and attempt to grasp how all the words of Scripture fit together, but Scripture is sufficient for all we really need to know from God and about Him.
Why Did God Create Humanity?
So, "Why did God create us?" Are there any passages in Scripture that answer this question? A related question, which I'd like you to consider at the same time, would be: "Did God have to create anything?" There are some who either teach outright, or imply, that it was necessary for God to create us. They say things such as: Without man, God wouldn't be able to show His love. But that's not what we find in Scripture! That's merely an assumption on their part, and just as bad as many of the other false assumptions made about Him.
The simplest of answers to our main question is: God created us just because he wanted to! (There is a deeper answer which we'll examine further below.) Unlike all of us, God exists in three persons (Father, Son and Spirit). The word person being the best we can come up with in human language; not because it's the most accurate way to speak of Him. Therefore, God had no need of another being to share His thoughts with, to communicate with, or to love! One might just as well ask, "Would you need to create (just assuming for the moment you possibly could) some tiny form of life in a microscopic world, in order to show your husband or wife or child that you love them?" Of course not! God had an infinite number of ways to show love within Himself; our creation was not a necessity for Him, in any way! Yet create us He did.
Does Scripture ever express any supposed need for love on God's part? Was God ever lonely? On the contrary, in John 17, verse 24, Jesus Himself declared: "...so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world (John 17:24)." One might suppose this passage could be interpreted similar to Ephesians 1:4-5 (which speaks of the love that God had for those whom He chose "in Him before the foundation of the world"), as some kind of knowledge the Father had about how that love would be shown to the Son after He took on flesh and dwelt among us. But unlike us, the Son existed "before the foundation of the world" as the Word (John 1:1-3). So in some way we can't even begin to imagine, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit not only communicate their thoughts with each other, but also love each other; without any need for us.
But let us move on to a possibly more satisfying answer, beginning with a phrase found in Isaiah 43:7: "Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made." God created us, just as He did the whole universe, to bring glory to Himself. It's downright sinful, what many humans have done in an effort to "bring glory" to themselves. But there's nothing wrong with the Creator of the whole Universe asking His creatures to glorify Him; after all, He "made us, and not we ourselves" (Psalm 100:3). We have never existed as independent beings; we owe everything to God. In the same way that God created the earth and all that is in it (especially when He created Adam and Eve), to bring glory to Himself, so to, has He re-created every Believer (i.e., when we were "born again" in Christ) to glorify Himself in a way that no others can. Jesus said: "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." [Matthew 5:16] And although the word "glorify" isn't used in the following passage, it's certainly implied:
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. [ Ephesians 2:8-10 ]
Believers do not do "good works" in any way to earn salvation, but rather to glorify God. And just as we mentioned above concerning the topic of love, God didn't even need to create us to bring glory to Himself. Jesus said in John 17, verse 5:
"Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was." [ John 17:5 ]
But in order to increase His glory, God created the universe, both visible and invisible, and all that is in it. "The heavens declare the glory of God" (Psalm 19:1; KJV). And because He created creatures that can appreciate how great a task this was, we can glorify Him in our worship, and praise Him for all He's done; especially for our salvation from sin.
Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created. [ Revelation 4:11 ]
Once again, God did not need us in order to bring glory to Himself, or for any other reason. In Acts 17, Paul said:
The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything,... [From, Acts 17:24-25 ]
God created us, and all that is, just because He wanted to. He did it as Scripture declares, for His own joy, for His own "good pleasure" as seen in these concluding passages:
For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure'; [From, Isaiah 46:9-10 ]
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. [ Philippians 2:12-13 ]
I'm sure we could find even more about this topic within the Scriptures, but my body is weak, my eyes are weary and there's only so much time that God has given to each of us.
In His mercy, grace and love, Daniel.
1[Return to Text] Although some already guessed it was true years earlier, on January 1, 1925, Edwin Hubble announced he had conclusive proof (from observations and photographic plates made with the 100-inch Hooker Telescope on Mt. Wilson), that what many believed were only gaseous nebulae within the Milky Way were in fact separate island universes outside of it. It may seem strange now, but prior to this, most astronomers thought the entire universe consisted of only the Milky Way! (Which is why "universe" and "the galaxy" were synonyms before that time.)
Today, the observable universe is estimated to contain about 170 billion (1.7 x 1011) galaxies, each of which is made up of, on average, about one trillion (1012) stars and other matter (such as dust and gases). Some recently discovered galaxies are called giants, because they contain an estimated 100 trillion (1014) stars. And with instruments like the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and the Herschel Space Observatory (June, 2009), we are continuing to find even more galaxies. As it stands now, it's possible for us to observe about 1012 stars in each of an assumed 1012 galaxies, for a total number of 1024 stars! Yet God has a unique name for each of them !!
(Note: There have been many new 'astronomical discoveries' in just the last few years; some of which I hope to provide, with references, in the near future.)
2[Return to Text] Of course, some Believers may have their faith "upset" by the words of false teachers; see e.g., 2 Timothy 2:17-18.
Written on: October 16, 2008 (2008.10.16),
Revised: July 17, 2010 (2010.07.17), and
Last Update: August 22, 2010 (2010.08.22).
Minor update: September 3, 2011 (2011.09.03).
You can write to us here: contact page (opens in a new window).