THE PURPOSE OF LIFE
When my Dad was ill, he commented sadly…
“I’m useless; good for nothing; a drain on the NHS; put me on the scrapheap!”
I was joking with an 87-year old lady about a pretty brooch she was wearing: “Your brooch or your life!” I joked.
She replied: “You’d better have my life then; it’s not worth much now, is it?”
Do you recall a film some years ago: “What’s it all about, Alfie”?
- Well, what IS it all about?
- What factors determine whether a life is well lived… or not?
A man I know of died towards the end of last year… he was not particularly old…
His obituary was very moving… all about a loving father, devoted husband, much-loved brother to so-and-so and uncle to so-and-so. Sadly missed, etc.
- However, a reliable source told me that the man was anything but loving and devoted… in fact, quite the opposite
- Why the glowing obituary? Who’s to say what a life is worth!
Life can be very confusing sometimes…
- Just when you think you’ve got it sorted…bang!
I recall a colleague, who was going through a tough time, looking at me with a bewildered face and asking: “Why is this happening to me!”
We are all born (if we’re not aborted)… most people grow up, have all sorts of experiences, reach our teens… 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s…
- Life ends… a service of remembrance is held…your possessions are divided up
- A photograph of you is placed on the mantelpiece… and perhaps a small urn with your ashes!
- And life goes on for everyone else!
So… what’s it all about, Alfie?
King Solomon in the Bible grappled with such matters…
‘I wanted to see what was worthwhile for people to do under heaven for the few days of their lives’
SO WHAT MAKES LIFE WORTH LIVING?
I want to suggest seven reasons…
- 1. God made us for His pleasure and delight
- What a difference it makes when we know that someone truly cares for us
- Some years ago, the Soviets carried out an experiment to see what would happen if new babies were deprived of affection, though otherwise cared for… sickness and death followed
- To know that we are cherished by God should transform our lives
- He says: “I have loved you with an everlasting love”
We are not God’s ‘toys’ for Him to have fun with!
- We are the crowning glory of His creation
- Though when I look in the mirror each morning it’s hard to believe!
- 2. God has a plan and purpose for our lives
- My uncle used to say, “If the bullet’s got your number on it, you’ve had it!’
- Doris Day had a famous hit song: Que Sera Sera (whatever will be will be)… But is life just a series of random occurrences?
- There is a famous verse in Jeremiah to reassure us that life is anything but random:
“I know the plans I have for you… plans for good and not for evil to give you a future and a hope”
However, God’s plans can be thwarted…
- I have a friend who once told me that “if it’s the Lord’s will, it will happen; if not, it won’t” Is this true?
- We need to distinguish between trusting (‘having faith in’) God in every situation… and fatalism where every event is fixed
- We can actively hinder God’s plans if we choose to ignore Him … He never forces His will upon us
- We are not robots or clockwork mice… we decide whether God has His way in our lives… or not
But how wonderful to know that you are never out of His mind… He keeps a close eye on your life… and a plan for good and not for evil
- 3. We have opportunity to worship and praise God today
- One of the most amazing events in the Bible is when Paul & Silas are singing praises to God while chained in prison
- God is still God regardless of our circumstances and feelings
- True praise and worship is living a life that reflects the Person of Jesus Christ… and offering that life back to Him
- Praise and worship is more of a condition (a state of being) than an event!
Of course, there are special occasions when we rejoice and thank God, not least during formal services of worship…
Paradoxically, such times can create tension in church life…
- Should we sing old hymns or modern songs?
- Stand still or wiggle!
- Sing fast or slow
- Have drums and guitars… or a pipe organ
- Wave our arms or keep our hands still
- Pray spontaneously or use prayers from a book
- Dance, bounce and wave banners or meditate silently
It’s almost impossible to please a 17-year old and a 77-year old in the same service! We all need much grace and willingness to be accommodating of other viewpoints.
- But we should all be worshippers… thankful… giving God the glory… It makes life so much more satisfying
- 4. We have the privilege of growing more like Jesus Christ
- We can’t grow more like Jesus simply by trying hard!
- We can’t do it by saturating ourselves in theology or attending conferences or listening to sermons… though such things are often helpful
We have the joyful experience of growing more like Jesus by spending time with Him and with fellow-believers, listening to His Word, conversing with Him and sharing our lives with Him
- We read that “with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, we are being changed into His likeness, from one degree of glory to another, for this comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
- “From one degree of glory into another” Wow! It’s a continuous process… and lasts a lifetime
- None of us have “arrived” yet but we are promised the opportunity to grow more and more like Him
A farmer cleared his land of boulders… but when he ploughed the field, he discovered lots of medium-sized stones just beneath the surface… After much effort, he cleared the stones and started ploughing again, only to discover hundreds of small pebbles…
Growing more like Christ is a bit like that, isn’t it? Just when you think you’ve “arrived” as a Christian, the Holy Spirit shows us further areas of our lives requiring attention!
- How wonderful to know that we can be “clothed in the righteousness of Christ” and be free from the penalty of sin
There is a story of a man who came to a Mission House asking to see Jesus… it turned out that “Jesus” was one of the missionaries, who was so kind and good that naively but wonderfully, the man innocently assumed that he was the Saviour
There are some folk who trust Christ for salvation and believe the Gospel message… but whose faces and behaviour suggest something different!
- Perhaps the greatest compliment we can ever receive is for someone to say~ “I can tell you are a Christian; it shines out like a beacon the moment you enter the room”
- 5. Our lives can witness and be a blessing to others
- They can be… but it doesn’t always happen!
- Jesus has returned to heaven
- The Holy Spirit comes to live within every believer…
- So why isn’t the life of every Christian equally powerful in witnessing to and blessing others?
The American preacher, DL Moody once made this statement: “The day came when DL Moody died and Christ took up residence”
- The more we relinquish control of our lives, the more the light of Christ shines through us
- The more we submit to His will, the more we become salt on the earth
The closest that people get to Jesus is through their contact with you and me!
- We are His representatives… His presence on earth… our words, our reactions, our attitude to others
- It’s not merely a case of being witnesses in the sense of preaching the Gospel… but being His ambassadors through the lives we lead
Is it said of you and of me? “I’m so glad that I know him/her… he’s such a blessing to me… such an encouragement… so caring…so interested in me as an individual”
- Some of us need to do much better in this area of our lives!
- It makes life so much more worthwhile when we bless others
- 6. We can ‘move the hand of God
- You might feel unimportant, insignificant and with little ability
- But you can be a powerhouse in the Kingdom of God… through prayer
One resolute and committed person can accomplish a lot…
- One lady was determined to rid telephone boxes in London of cards advertising sex for sale… and eventually succeeded!
- But also… one determined lady made sure that prayer was banned from schools in the USA
- One determined politician pushed through the Abortion Act in England and Wales (1967) that has so far cost the lives of well over 7 million of the unborn in England and Wales
In the Letter of James we read:
“The fervent prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”
- So prayer in itself is not enough…it must be ‘fervent’ and ‘righteous’
- There is no place for perfunctory prayers tossed out casually as a good-luck charm or used as an insurance policy
- Prayer is first and foremost for us… to seal our relationship with our heavenly Father…to praise the Lord … to engage in spiritual warfare
- It strengthens our faith and provides us with a supernatural weapon to use for God’s glory
The privilege of prayer gives life greater meaning, as we become an integral part of God’s Kingdom work
- 7. Life is worthwhile because this life is not the end
A younger man met a much older man after many years: “So you’re still in the land of the living!” he asked mischievously.
“No”, the old man answered. “I’m not in the land of the living. I’m in the land of the dying… but one day— maybe soon— I shall be in the land of the living… and never die again”
One of the best reasons for living well is that we are able to die well with confidence about the future
Eternity doesn’t begin when we take our final breath… For those who trust Jesus Christ as Saviour, it begins TODAY