Created for a Purpose
by Matthew W. Bassford
One of the greatest apparent advantages of a godless way of life is the freedom that it allows. No longer must the unbeliever be concerned with the law of God and whether it permits him to do what he wants to. Instead, he is free to do whatever he thinks is right.
However, this seeming benefit comes at a steep cost. When we are free to do whatever we want, there is nothing for us to do. There is no meaning for us to achieve, no purpose for us to fulfill.
When we point this out to atheists, they often reply that they are free to create their own meaning. You can decide to make your life about whatever you want it to be about! Sadly, the reality here does not measure up to the theory. The goals that we choose for ourselves inevitably prove unfulfilling.
This is well illustrated by the first couple of chapters of Ecclesiastes. In them, Solomon deploys the nearly unlimited resources that he has amassed in order to discover the purpose for his life. He embarks on massive building projects and funds to the fullest every pleasure that he enjoys.
The worldly would suppose this to be heaven on earth. Many of them live with the goal of accumulating wealth until they too, like Solomon, can do anything they want. However, Solomon’s experience with it was anything but heavenly, and the few who achieve such levels of wealth today also discover that it is unsatisfying.
As the Israelite king says in Ecclesiastes 2:11, “When I considered all that I had accomplished and what I had labored to achieve, I found everything to be futile and a pursuit of the wind. There was nothing to be gained under the sun.” If we place our hope in ourselves, we will be disappointed.
Still others seek to find meaning in some earthly cause. There are those who give their lives to an organization or business; still others live for an ideal, like environmentalism.
The problem is, though, that the results don’t live up to our aspirations. Businesses fail or, worse still, fire us. Organizations fall short of their goals. Causes get sidetracked by human selfishness and pride. More subtly, success may be even harder to deal with. What do you do if some worldly goal of yours is completely achieved? Go fishing?
Thus, we see that honoring the purpose for which we are created, though it appears very restrictive, is actually a blessing. Christians can live a meaningful, fulfilled life from beginning to end without facing the disappointment that hounds the worldly. Because God's goals are bigger than we are, we never find them inadequate. Better still, when we come to the end of our lives, we can anticipate an eternal reward instead of oblivion (as some suppose) or eternal punishment. The yoke of Christ may appear to be a burden, but when we take it up, we find it to be lighter than anything else.