THE MEANING OF LIFE
Perhaps the most disturbing issue
to any human being is that life is without significance. Many at some time or
other have probably pondered over this. in the ensuing search for meaning,
some become disillusioned with themselves and the things that they have done.
Others have seemingly found a purpose for living but at the dusk of their lives
often reach the gloomy conclusion of meaningless. These thoughts have propelled
many to religious, driven others on the road to escapism, and, more sadly -
forced some to suicide. Are there any real answers?
Suppose one says that human
existence is accidental and random, because it cannot be explained. Suppose
one says that the destiny of life is death, because it seems an undeniable
fact. Then, this existence is nothing more than vanity, and it would he
illogical to believe that human beings can lead a purposeful life. Yet, many
still struggle, long and labor to find significance. Why?
Perhaps religion can provide some
answers. Indeed, if a religion calls itself as such, it must. For what good can
a religion bring if it only outlines moral principles but fails to enlighten
those who are puzzled by the questions of “existence” and “death”? Is there
significance at all? Where is meaning? What is the way to subdue the fear that
human beings may hopelessly tread from one horrifying nihilistic pole to the
other - what is life and death? The answered questions more often hide the true
essence of life. In view of this, it is necessary to look for a religion that
gives the answers. A correct view would be able to both explain the source of
life and provide solutions to the human search for meaning, which persists in
the face of the seeming reality and finality of death.
The Christian faith poses the same
questions of meaning (Matt 16:26) and answers them. It proclaims a life that
does possess the highest sort of meaning: beyond this physical life lies the
Kingdom of God to be inherited which is characterized by the abiding presence
Jesus has prescribed a pattern for
all to be saved (Rom 6:17, 18), that is to be born of water and the spirit (Jn
3:3, 5, 7; Tit 3:5). Jesus’ in-depth exposition of being born again does it
underscore, to reinforce the direct relationship of these two issues into the
kingdom of God. He would not say something insignificant at a critical moment
to an old man (Nicodemus) who was risking his own life to see Him. The
Pharisees would persecute him if they knew he was with Jesus. The emphasis
“truly, truly”, which He placed before “unless one is born of water and the
spirit” confirms that to be born has a direct relationship to salvation.
However even if Christianity
provides the solution, there is no guarantee that Christians could live on
meaningfully and joyously. To only confess that Jesus is Lord does not make
life meaningful, but conforming to the will of God does (Mt 17:21). Thus, the
significance of life begins at the juncture of being born again, which
essentially produces the eternal hope of bliss. But hope may turn to
hopelessness, if faith vanishes. To put it in another way, the initial faith in
God’s words is not enough to ensure continuous significance of life unless it
is kept to the end (Heb 3:14). A sudden loss of significance in an already
Christian life is possible and it is a terrifying prospect. It would be even
more meaningless for one who knew and kept God’s will to turn away from Him
later, than for those who do not know Him (2 Pet 2:20-21). Such a person knows
the beginning and the end and yet uncontrollably lets what is precious slip
pass him. This is indeed pitiful. Even in the True Jesus Church, a person’s
life can be robbed of significance if he does not keep the will of God or
preserve his zeal in the Lord to the end (cf. Heb 10:38-39). So, faith and
determination to cling on to Him continuously (1 Pet 1:5) are necessary and
the hope of securing a place in Heaven is what makes life purposeful.
In short, the meaning of life
begins with the understanding of the origin of life and its end. A religion
that cannot provide this understanding does not paint a clear picture of life.
Christians, members of other religions, or atheists alike, must have this
answer, or this present life is without meaning. The question on “existence”
and “death” must be answered, and the life after death secured.