More Than Just Surviving
THE other day I overheard a man say that he wondered a great deal about the meaning of life. And when I commented to a friend later about this concern, we both realized that that's one of the main reasons we have religion -- because we all wonder about the reason for our existence. Who are we? Why are we here? These are questions that may come at night as we walk outside and look up at the stars or as we drive home after work. They are questions that came to the writers of the Bible. For example, the Psalmist said, referring to God, ``When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him?''1
In our reading of the Bible it becomes plain that seeking why we exist is really a search to understand God. God is the one supreme creator and is not only the ``how'' of man's creation but the ``why.''
The search for the answer to why we are here is, then, a spiritual one. The answer is not found in bank accounts, wardrobes, job titles, or political power. The world's riches, fame, and power do not ultimately satisfy or justify us. Seeking them may instead introduce us to the bottomless pit of lust. Meaning for our existence is found and expressed through spiritual sense and through such God-derived qualities as love, humility, purity. These show our allegiance to Love, Truth, Life -- or God.
Several years ago my wondering about the meaning of life seemed very discouraging. I would wake up in the morning feeling that there was no good reason to get up.
It was in the Bible in Christ Jesus' Sermon on the Mount2 that I found an answer that satisfied me and gave me a purpose. I saw that regardless of the specific career or place in which I found myself, to really follow the sermon's guidance would be to live a life of intelligence, grace, and great beauty. It was a life that focused on spiritual strength and reality instead of merely pursuing material activities and goals. It was a life of service to and love of God and my fellow beings. It was not necessarily an easy life. It would require work and sacrifice. But the reward was a growing sense of the kingdom of heaven within -- an understanding of God.
This was a switch in focus for me. It opened my thought to infinity instead of limiting it to corporeality.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, wrote a letter to a branch Church of Christ, Scientist, in New York, and part of it says: ``As an active portion of one stupendous whole, goodness identifies man with universal good. Thus may each member of this church rise above the oft-repeated inquiry, What am I? to the scientific response: I am able to impart truth, health, and happiness, and this is my rock of salvation and my reason for existing.''3
This may not be a life with an impressive rsum -- or it may be. The important point is that it doesn't aim at self-justification or justification from the world of business, humanities, sports, the arts. Divine Love, divine Life, and divine Truth are the motivation and reason for action. Man's purpose is to express the fullness of the divine nature. In fact, man in God's image is His expression. This is who we really are -- our actual, spiritual selfhood. Expressing more of that selfhood each day is far richer and more profound than a mere sense of survival. It is the reason for existence -- the meaning of life.
1Psalms 8:3, 4. 2See Matthew, chapters 5-7. 3The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 165.