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Living Well 2: What are we living for?

I actually just had a conversation with a friend yesterday that brought us to this topic a little bit. It was interesting because I had already began this post with no intention of finishing, but, now seeing the pertinence of the topic, here it is:

Referencing the last post, taking control of our own lives is a beautiful, difficult, and necessary first step toward living well, and something that must be done with a degree of regularity, because I guarantee that if you’re human, sometimes you’ll lose control over your own lives and find yourself thinking things you don’t want to think and doing things you don’t want to do. You will lose control sometimes. It’s okay. You have to have the drive and desire to take your life back no matter how many times you lose control or how impossible it might seem. The motivation for controlling and maintaining control of our lives comes from our ultimate goals, our ultimate pursuit.

What are you living for? What is the purpose behind what you do? Where do you find meaning for the humdrum of the everyday? Humans inevitably search for some sort of ultimate meaning and purpose in their lives. I think this is why we find religion as a centerpiece and inextricable component of every human culture known to man. An essential intellectual pursuit of the philosophers across history, that has led to many different conclusions, is the quest for discovering what the ultimate goal of life is – or if there even is one.

The question of what the meaning of life is an important question to ask because the answer determines whether what we do is actually of any importance. If there is no answer to the question, if there is no ultimate purpose in life, then that means a few things for us. One, we can do absolutely anything we want without hesitation or fear of doing something wrong. Since it really doesn’t matter what we do, then we feel free to do any whimsical thing we please because we don’t have to feel guilty about the important things that we are not doing. The second thing it would mean for us if there were no ultimate goal, is that nothing we do is of any significance. We are insignificant, our actions are insignificant, and when all is said and done, it really doesn’t matter if we initiate a genocide or end human trafficking. If there is an answer to the question, and we don’t know it or have the right answer, then we aren’t living the way we should be. If we have the right answer to the question and choose not to live by it, then we’re living lives devoid of meaning. We might as well not believe in any meaning at all.

There is a pretty common philosophy in modern American culture about finding meaning in life. Summed briefly, the philosophy is that every individual needs to create their own meaning in life. There is no absolutely ultimate meaning, there is no overarching, supernatural purpose that includes all. The “ultimate” purpose for the life of the individual is for that individual to do what they think is meaningful and purposeful. In this way, one can believe that there is no grand meaning to our existence but still have a sense of purpose in their lives, and in that way find fulfillment. That ideas seems pretty nice, but then, even if we a sense of purpose and meaning, in actuality our lives don’t have any real purpose or meaning – we’re living in a false, self-created reality. If indeed there is no higher reality than our meager lives, then this way of personal meaning is sensible, but one must deliberately forget the fact that they are merely pretending to have meaning in a life that is truly meaningless.

Living well means living for something, but not just anything. It’s about living for something that is true, for something that satisfies personal meaning because it is full of ultimate meaning. My views are probably pretty clear by now. I believe in ultimate purpose because I believe in an Ultimate Creator that loving endowed us with the responsibility of carrying out tasks that contribute to the formation of something that is ultimately good. To participate in this, what we need to live for is not a thing, goal, or idea, but a Being. A life of obedience to the One that loved, designed, created, saves, and sustains us is the way to real meaning. This obedience is why we have to take control of our own lives. We are not to take control of our lives so that we have control, because this will lead us nowhere worthwhile. We take control of our lives so that we can give them up, and live obediently to the God who knows how we are to live, to the God who loves us so much that He wants to fill our lives with a purpose beautiful beyond imagination.

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