Q&A: What Is The Meaning To Life?

Last night the students I have the opportunity to lead engaged in a “Theology Q&A Night.” I took questions submitted anonymously from the students and spent the service attempting to answer their questions. There were many good questions but this one, what is the meaning to life, really struck me. All the time I hear of people looking for “God’s will for my life” or something of the sort. I am going to share with you what I shared with the students, this is the meaning of life.

Ecclesiastes  1:2 says this, “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” Another way of saying this would sound this way, “Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” King Solomon wrote this verse and was a man of great wealth, many wives, beautiful palaces, and anything he wanted. He once wrote anything his heart desired, he pursued. Yet, this is how he summed like up: meaningless. A man who had all he wanted and gained so much described it all as meaningless. Why? Because created us for something more. Something more than we can experience in our finite lives in the here and now. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”

Go back to Genesis 1:26, man was initially created in the image of God. Created to reflect the image of the invisible God, sometimes that Christ did perfectly according to Colossians 1. In the first three chapters with that in mind we see four things that God set aside for humanity to provide fulfillment in life.

1) He created humanity to have dominion of the earth (Genesis 1:26)

2) He created humanity to work (Genesis 2:15)

3) He created humanity as social beings (Genesis 2:18-25)

4) He created humanity to fellowship with Him (Genesis 3:8)

These things gave life meaning to humanity, fulfillment in life, and responsibility in life. However, the fall that happens in Genesis 3 with the ushering in of sin deeply distorted all of this. The good news is when we read Revelation it will all come full-circle and will be restored once more as God intended, but we are not there yet. So we ask, I am here today so what is the meaning until that is resorted? Real meaning in life, right now and for eternity, is found in the restoration of our relationship wit God that was lost with Adam and Eve’s fall into sin. That relationship can only be restored through Jesus Christ.

Real meaning in life does not stop though at crying out to Christ to save you. Rather, real meaning in life is one surrenders, submits, and beings to follow Christ as a disciple. Learning of who He is, spending time with Him in His Word, communing with Him in prayer, and walking on obedience in light of His commands.

To the unbeliever that may sound unappealing, or even to a Christian. To submit your life and give God a blank check and say I will do whatever you call me to. Look to these verses though to prove doing that will give you the meaning you are searching for:

              “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.          Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart,   and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”

Matthew 11:28-30

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly”

John 10:10b

“Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”

Matthew 16:24-25

What these verses are saying is you have to make your mind up. We can continue to seek and lead our own lives, which will result in emptiness, or we can fully submit to follow God and pursue after Him, as He pursues us, and let Him have control of our lives. This will lead to a life of joy, fulfillment, purpose, satisfaction, and contentment. This is what God wants for us. It may not result in the easiest life, but it will result in one that makes a difference for the Kingdom and one the glorifies God. The meaning of life is to glorify God in everything that we do.

Summed up: The meaning of life is to know God and enjoy Him forever.

Are We Giving God Our Best, or What’s Left?

Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament, and a book we probably do not hear from a lot. However Malachi teaches an important lesson in chapter one verses 6-14.

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name? ’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you? ’ By saying that the Lord’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts. And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts. Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord. Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.” Malachi 1:6-14

Israel was giving blemished sacrifices to God. If you know anything about the Law of Moses, Israel was commanded to give an unblemished lamb, a holy God requires a perfect sacrifice (Leviticus 23:12). Israel had become guilty of giving injured lambs, stolen lambs, blemished lambs, and so on in their sacrifice. There sacrifice was not actually a sacrifice, it cost them nothing. A sacrifice requires giving up something we want or need to God, if what we give isn’t a sacrifice to us we are not giving God our best. A sacrifice cost something. Worst than that Israel didn’t see why it was such a big deal! Are we not guilty of the same? Do we not fill our lives up with non-meaningful things that do not matter when it comes to eternity.

At FUGE Camps on the third day we take-up a missions offering to go overseas to support missions around the world. Students walk up front and put their money in the basket. One year a girl did something different than the norm. She walked up front and instead of putting money in the basket she looked at it, and then stepped in it. Proclaiming God I do not have money to give, but I will give you my life. How profound. Are we giving God our lives? Are we proclaiming with out lives that nothing is more important that God, and what commands?

The value of what we give is determined by the value it is to us. If it is not of much value to us, then it will not be to God. Giving God one Sunday every few months, a quiet times every so often are not giving God much. Do we take what God says seriously? What Israel was giving displeased God. Are we not guilty of the same? Are we sacrificing things to God, or sacrificing God for things? I have continually ask myself this in my life.

Look to how God responds to Israel. He does not want their worship because they are not a priority. It is not different today. God doesn’t want our Sundays, he wants our lives! He wants nothing to be before him. My prayer is that we hunger so much and thirst so much to know God more that we can’t get enough of him. That we understand the need for community and not only look forward to it, but feel like we can’t miss it. My prayer is that the local church becomes the image of Christ, who is the image of God, on earth today.  A community of believers doing life together, exhorting and rebuking in love, on mission together, and serving God above all else.

We have filled out lives with things. Sports, hobbies, and so on that do not glorify God because they take priority over God. They take priority over meeting as a local church. If we spend our Sundays at the ball field, watching the NFL, or any other hobby more often than we are meting with a local believing covenant community we are in sin (Hebrews 10:25). Are we spending more time reading a recruiting website of our favorite college team, or in the Word of God? We have declared what is most important by what we spend our time doing and where we invest our money. People notice, our children notice, and most importantly God notices. Are we giving God our best, or are we giving him what is left?

How Do I Have a Quiet Time?

If you spend anytime around me you know I am advocate for christian men and women spending daily time with the Lord. The question I usually get after a statement like that is this, how do I have a quiet time? This is not the perfect plan or a must-do guide to having a perfect quiet time. I am going to lay out what I do and you can modify how you do it, the key is to just have one.

Set aside at least an hour each day.

This can seem quite daunting at first. Most christians have enough trouble figuring out what to say for a blessing, how am I supposed to spend an hour with the Lord everyday? Maybe start small. 15 minutes at first and let it grow. The more you do it the more natural it will become. Soon you may see it go beyond an hour.

I recommend the mornings because it just really starts my day off right. However, that is feasible for everyone. One man in the church I serve leaves his house at 4:30 AM everyday to head to work. Just be consistent. If you are going to do it at 7AM then do it that time everyday. Also, be consistent where you do it as well. I don’t like say getting in a routine because it’s not just something to check-off, but if you have a set play of when and where you are more likely to do it.

Spend 10 minutes in worship through music.

Whatever music you like spend 10 minutes in worship before you start. Right now I am on Rend Collective kick in my quiet time, but I often listen to a variety of music including guys like Shai Linne. Songs a lot of times express what we want to say when we don’t know what to say. When you sing think about the words you are singing.

Spend 10-15 minutes in intentional prayer for others.

I once had a seminary professor ask me this, “Jared, if God answered all your prayers the past year how many people would be saved due to God answering those prayers?” Wow! Shot to the heart. How true though that our prayers can become so selfish. So I set aside a different things to pray for each day.

Sunday: All the Bible-beliving churches around the world who will proclaim the gospel this day, and for those who will hear it. Also, a UPG or UUPG.

Monday: My seminary (Students, profs, and its mission)

Tuesday: Churches I have previously served and attended. (Their leadership,   congregation, and so on.)

Wednesday: Former kids I had at FUGE Camps over my 3 summers.

Thursday: Friends and people I know who are lost, by name.

Friday: Missionaries I know, and the countries I have been able to travel to on mission trips.

Saturday: SBC agencies (Other seminaries, IMB, NAMB, ERLC)

I also pray for certain things everyday. My wife, family and in-laws, my church and pastor, the students in my ministry, other pastors at our church, best friends and mentors in my life. If you don’t know what to pray go to the Scriptures and let that be your guide.

Spend 30-40 minutes for worship through the Word.

This is a time you will hear God speak. The Bible is the very Word of God and when read we are hearing His words. If I read an Epistle I try to read the whole thing. The Epistles were letters and they are best read in one sitting, because when you get a letter you read the whole thing not parts at a time.

Take notes, write down questions, underline, and study. Saturate yourself with the word of God. If you read a chapter a day then read it two or three times. Get to the meaning of the text. This will be a time you will learn to look forward to and treasure. Some people will try a chronological Bible reading plan to read it in one year. That’s awesome, just don’t get discouraged. When you get in Leviticus you might be ready to hang it up. Remember the Bible is God-breathed and all of it is useful. I recommend a good study Bible to help understand what you are reading. I use the “ESV Study Bible” and I think it is one of the best.

Be prepared. I do not recommend opening up your Bible and wherever you finger lands is what God wants you to read. Read through books start to finish. If you have never done this I recommend three books to starts with. John, Acts, or Proverbs.

Spend 10 minutes of meditation and prayer

This is a time to just focus on God. Listen to God, maybe go back to the Word as you feel led. Then pray. I pray that God will use me as His vessel, He will use me to further His gospel for His glory and not mine, and many other things that I may need pray for. Write down your request in a journal and flip through it every few months and see things that God has delivered on.

The most important thing: Just do it.

The first day may be the hardest but if you stick to it I really believe this will be one the things you look most forward to everyday. Find someone to hold you accountable that you are doing yours, and likewise do the same for them. Where we spend the most of our time is where our heart is. I hope this has been helpful and if you have any questions please feel free to contact me!