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What is the Purpose of Life?

In the late 90s Paul Baloche was leading worship and he sang out “Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord Open our eyes, Lord. We want to see you”. He had been reading Ephesians 1:18 and been praying this prayer. He wasn’t sure how the rest of the song came out but fortunately it was recorded and from that he wrote the worship classic “Open The Eyes of My Heart”.

This week I have been reading Ephesians and it occurred to me that this could be seen as a prayer for God to open our eyes to the ultimate purpose of life. It is about seeing Jesus and might sound like praying to see some sort of vision of Jesus. But really it is about experiencing the resurrected Jesus in your life and realising that your true identity can only be found in him.

I have recently been listening to the rerun of the radio series the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on Radio 4 Extra. In this a giant computer is built to calculate the answer to the ultimate question, of life the universe and everything. It eventually arrives at the answer of 42. You see the problem was no one knew what the question was so another computer had to be built to figure that out.

When I was a teenager I dedicated my life to finding out what life was all about. I wanted to really know what our ultimate purpose was. I obsessed over this for months. This quest eventually led me to Jesus and the Bible. Of all the passages in the Bible the first part of Ephesians one is probably one of the clearest about what our purpose really is. What is the meaning of life?

The purpose of life is found in Jesus

The Body of Christ, image from IFBC

The Body of Christ, image from IFBC

God’s purpose is to bring everything under the authority of Christ. It is nothing less than bringing the universe together in his kingdom with Christ as the supreme ruling entity and we are to be part of that purpose. We are the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, the temple of Christ and we have the mind of Christ – not as individuals but corporately.

The purpose of life is to be joined to Christ functioning as part of his body on earth ushering in his kingdom rule. Paul’s prayer for the spiritual eyes to be opened is that somehow we will grasp that we are part of something bigger – something that will last for eternity.

Our purpose is so much more than his traditionally preached as the gospel. It is not just about a personal relationship with Jesus. Coming into God’s Kingdom and so into the body of Christ is not about losing our individuality under an oppressive regime or following rules and regulations. It is about relating together, bonding in love with one another and together being Christ on the earth.

Ephesians 2 shows that God breaks down walls of prejudice that might divide us. Colossians says there is neither male nor female, Jew or Gentile, slave or free. Christianity should be known for integrating races, genders and social classes – God’s the ultimate equality agenda. We are formed together into ‘a new humanity’ – not just a new race but a new being – a corporate individual.

Being incorporated into Christ is the result of the gospel. The true church is not ‘worthy institution’ or a building you go to on Sundays. It is a network of people bound together in love. This is the church that is destined to grow and fill the earth as more and more people find their true purpose in life.

The purpose of life is found in getting on with one another

Of course, let’s be real it isn’t easy getting on with one another. As an introvert I am very aware of my need for to be alone. Our own personal relationship with Jesus is vitally important but my Christianity cannot just be about this. It must overflow as I function albeit imperfectly as part of a body networking with other believers and even further in reaching out to those outside my faith community.

This week I watched Disney’s Frozen for the first time. I was in tears. I could really identify with the misunderstood villain come heroine Elsa in her self-imposed exile. I suspect that there is something in all of us that others that feels misunderstood and struggles to control the desire to lash out, even if it is now deeply buried in our memories. Learning self control can sometimes be an uphill struggle.

When I am frustrated with others and even lose control I know that there is forgiveness as God gently directs me and I believe helps me to improve in this area. The fruit of the Spirit grows within us to build character strengths to enable us to function together in love. We are baptised into this body and equipped by God’s Spirit to be the hands and feet of Christ to a world in need.

The purpose of life is found in reaching out to others

Jesus sent out the 12 and the 72 and by implication all his followers to tell the world of this message. They showed love to others by joining the communities wherever they found themselves. For instance in Luke 10 we see the disciples moving into new neighbourhoods, accepting hospitality and then reaching out into that community.

In reaching out Jesus followers were to tell people about Jesus. But their mission was not restricted to words. It also included acts of kindness. In the first part of Luke 10 we see that these were supernatural healings bringing health and wholeness to people just as Jesus did.

In the later part of Luke 10 Jesus also show in the parable of the Good Samaritan that these expressions of love involved helping people in ordinary ways too. Sometimes when we see needs we can wait for someone else to act but if we are Christ on earth surely we should be the ones that take that initiative.

Fulfilling our purpose together

This week I have felt my eyes being opened afresh to this wonderful truth. Yes, I struggle with building relationships. But God has joined me to others and in that I find my fulfilment. In that is the answer to life the Universe and Everything – to bring all things together under Christ’. My prayer is that God will open all our eyes to his amazing purpose.
I wonder what further practical steps we can take to practically outwork this together.

April 25, 2014 at 9:12 am
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