Beneath every decision we make is a hidden motivator. Purpose. Whether consciously or subconsciously we move in the direction of our purpose. When we commit a kind deed, it comes from somewhere deep inside of us. A yearning to fulfil what is somehow empty.
What is the purpose of life?
This question may not have an answer for many people. For others, the purpose of life is what each of us decides for ourselves. However, this mentality runs into problems.
One person can decide their purpose is to be as selfless as they can, another person can assign their purpose to be successful financially, another person can say their purpose is to rob as many banks as possible.
If purpose is whatever we like, if it is subjective, each purpose is equally valid. It’s your prerogative to choose. If somebody decides on a completely materialistic or hedonistic life, it is equally as valid as somebody who only wants to ruin lives of others.
There seems to be real problems occurring when we live in a worldview were purpose is subjective.
Moral to the end
How about we all just agree to live morally. This is so great because everybody understands morality. “The line between good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn)
But have you ever asked why? Why be moral? What does it actually accomplish? Why is virtuous living fulfilling?
Obviously, we are moral citizens because it is the right thing to do. But the questions continue, why does it matter to be a person accomplishing the right thing. What even is the right thing?
Saying ‘being a good person’, when asked about your purpose doesn’t quite answer the question. It only raises more.
It even changes the conversation.
When somebody asks what the purpose of life is, they are not asking a personal inquiry. They are saying – there are clouds in the sky, trees on the land, animals in every crevice, the whole earth is filled to the brim with co-existing humans. What is the purpose of all of this? What is the significance of this?
If we answer with, well the purpose is that I am supposed to be a good person, it doesn’t actually make sense. Instead, purpose runs even deeper than morality.
Beginning with God
The way purpose is commonly addressed reveals our selfishness.
I remember reading Rick Warren’s famous book Purpose Driven Life. I was asking all these questions about purpose beforehand and couldn’t find any answers. This book was then gifted to me by my pastor at the time. A real heaven send. What I didn’t expect was to be thrown for a loop at the very first page. These are the very first words.
“It’s not about you.” (The Purpose Driven Life, p1)
Ouch Rick Warren! That stings a little.
“The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfilment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions.” (The Purpose Driven Life, p1)
A real curveball followed by an awesome truth.
Notice this, Warren is implying that for many of us, purpose has become deeply individual. Purpose has become personal fulfilment, our own peace of mind, happiness, family, career, dreams and ambitions.
Yet he makes the claim that this is incorrect. Because the truth is that purpose is not about us. It is about God.
How then do I find my purpose?
Purpose from a creator’s intentions
Purpose starts with finding a creator’s intentions.
What is the purpose of a building? We can find the answer if we know the architect’s intentions. Purpose is sourced from the designer.
If we blow up the proportions, we then ask what was the Architect of Life thinking when he weighed the mountains in the palm of his hands and measured the pillars of the earth?
Genesis 1 is where we find God’s intentions. God made us in his image and likeness. And he said “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Geneses 1, verse 28)
Being created in God’s image is the clue to our purpose. It gives the insight that God intends for us to reflect him. These are the Creator’s intentions. Being fruitful, filling the earth, subduing it, having dominion over animals, are all different ways in which we can accomplish that.
The reflection of God is why we are here. As we reflect God in a multitude of ways, this accomplishes our purpose.
As we are sanctified and become more Christ-like we accomplish our purpose. To be fruitful and multiply is to be like God. To subdue and dominion, to rule and reign is to be like God who does the same. At the deepest level, purpose is about God.
Purpose runs deeper than personal morality. It runs all the way back to the start of time, where God willed this universe into creation and designated mankind his purpose.
Learning about and bringing these truths to the forefront of our mind has an inevitable effect on us. Our hidden motivations are changed. How we spend our time and money is changed. Decision that we are to make, are cast in a different light. Happiness, pleasure, entertainment pale in comparison with fulfilment.
We learn to love God’s glory, and we become purpose driven.
Roden Meares enjoys playing basketball, reading comics and going to the gym. He has a passion for evangelising and helping others in their faith through writing.
Roden’s previous articles can be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/roden-meares.html