Friday, October 18, 2013

Purpose: Where Does It Come From?

            All human beings, no matter how young or old, feel the need for an ultimate purpose. We all search for our “calling,” our reason for being on this earth, but how could we have a purpose unless we were made for a purpose. Something cannot have meaning unless it has been formed for a function. Despite this longing felt by every human being, atheists say that any ultimate purpose is a myth. Richard Dawkins says in his book The God Delusion, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” Then how do we account for this longing? Atheists will tell you ‘meaning’ is an invention of the human race to fill this void that we feel, but this claim still admits that humanity feels a void. Former atheist C.S. Lewis says this about meaning and purpose, “If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.”
Even militant atheists, when being candid, will admit that purpose exists. In his book Hitch-22: A Memoir, atheist Christopher Hitchens says, It could be that all existence is a pointless joke, but it is not in fact possible to live one's everyday life as if this were so.” This void felt by humanity is acknowledged by even the most vocal of atheists.
There is a higher value placed on human life than on any other species. Animals are not guilty of rape or murder or stealing, but human beings are. If human beings are simply animals, why do get so upset when humans act like animals? Why do we place such a higher value on human life? Is it because we have greater reasoning capabilities? Well, if that were the case, human beings with a greater intellect would be valued more highly than say a child or a person with mental disabilities. The very basis of evolution is this: the strong dominate the weak. As human beings we do not hold to this standard; the strong uphold the weak. So where, if we acknowledge its existence, does purpose and this value for human life come from?
Let me begin my answer to these questions by quoting Mr. Dawkins once again when he says, “DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.” According to Mr. Dawkins, we are simply the robotic puppets of our DNA, but if we are simply acting according to the dictation of our DNA, which does not care about life or know what to do with life, why do we know and care? If we are simply the drones of DNA, we should not be able to overthrow the instinct of the strong dominating the weak; but we do. Human beings are the only living things capable of disobeying their instincts. If we are the pawns of our DNA, then humanity should no more care about the death of a human being than the death of the fly that you killed in your kitchen last night. How arrogant it would be for us to believe that human life is any more special than the worms crawling through the dirt in our backyards. However, we know that this is not the case; history portrays the worth that mankind places on human life. From the Civil War to WWII, we have fought for the rights and freedom of man; fighting against any power that would try to demean any human being to less than they are truly worth. But where does this worth come from if the person we are fighting for is simply a collection of well put together dust waiting on this earth to die? Why do we fight for them if they have no ultimate future or meaning to their days here on earth?
The worth of human life, and how it differs from every other form of life that exists on this earth, is that we are made in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27) We were made on purpose and for a purpose. No other life form can look at itself and know that it exists. Human beings are the only ones with the capability of pondering our existence. We have this void that we so long to fill and we strive to discover the ultimate meaning of our existence.
We all have this void, but how do we fill it? Our purpose is found, not in self reliance or self sufficiency, but through dependence on Jesus Christ and total surrender to his will and purpose for our lives. “But wait,” you may be saying, “that sounds a lot more like slavery than liberation to me.” With the view that our culture takes today, yes, it would sound a lot more like slavery, but Jesus says in John 8:34-36, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” True slavery is not surrender to Jesus Christ, but when we refuse Christ and walk according to our will we are enslaved to our sinful nature. What we see as freedom at first only leads to a meaningless, miserable life full of narcissistic fulfillment; going from one form of pleasure and fulfillment to the next only to have it fall through our fingers like sand. Likewise, true freedom comes through total surrender to Jesus Christ who liberates us from our sin and re-commissions our lives and gives us a purpose.
Our worth as human being is wrapped up in the Cross. The message of the Cross is this: That God became man in Jesus Christ. He lived the life we should have lived, a life obedient to moral law, a life that has no sin. He died the death that we deserved, the punishment for our sins, in our place. Let me jump in at his part, you may be asking, “Why would a loving God punish sin?” I will begin by saying this: we all long for justice. If we see a person run a red light we instantly say, “Where is a cop when you need one!” When we don’t want justice is when it applies to us. If we are the one running the red light we instantly think, “Please let there be no cop!” God is not just our loving father, but he is also the righteous Judge. William MacDonald says this on the subject, “A god who doesn’t punish sin is no god at all. The idea that a God of love must not punish sin overlooks the fact that God is also holy and must do what is morally right.” We have all sinned at least once in our lives, and our sin deserves punishment, but God sent his son Jesus to live the life that we were supposed to live, and he took the punishment for our sin, substituting his perfect record for our marred one. Incredibly, the best part of the story is yet to come. After Jesus died on the cross, taking the sin and shame of all humanity, past and present, he was placed in a tomb. Three days later he rose from the dead, just like he said he would, and appeared to over 500 witnesses, both followers of Christ and enemies. Now he offers salvation, a perfect spotless record, every bit of red in your ledger wiped away, to all who repent of their sins and commit their life to him. In order to spend eternity with a perfect God, we must be perfect. This is humanly impossible, but when God became man in Jesus, he lived a sinless life and now offers his perfect record to us.

If we say that purpose does not exist, every human being on the planet is simply an unfathomably well functioning, self sustaining energy source; the most efficient of machines. If every child born has no purpose in life, no purpose in death, no purpose in standing for truth or fighting for friendship, then life would no better suit the human race than death. Evolutionists say that given enough time and luck, chemical reactions can produce all of the life that we see today, but is impossible to reason that love, morality, beauty, friendship, emotion, and meaning could all come to be through the same processes. If the universe was made with no purpose and is heading for no purpose, how can we be expected to have any ultimate purpose? Thankfully, the universe was no accident. We were made on purpose and for an unimaginably great purpose. Our purpose in life, our purpose in every breath and every moment is to know Christ and to make him known. We have been called to go, and we have to answer the call. The only way to be truly great is to proclaim the name of the only great God. We have to know what we believe and why we believe it. (1 Peter 3:15) No one whose faith is weak, no matter how passionate they are about God and no matter how sure they are that they have been called, can impact the world for Jesus Christ. You can only lead someone to be what you already are. God is not calling lukewarm Christians with a wishy-washy faith; God is calling men and women of passionate, radical abandonment to Him. The world has been changed by twelve disciples who decided to radically follow Jesus Christ and abandoned self, worldly pleasures, and their own safety to bring the gospel to a lost and dying world. Imagine what an entire generation could accomplish! We must live lives to where we can honestly say, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”