What is Life?
This is an interesting question. I’m rather sure that all of you out there have had a moment of internal inquiry where you’ve questioned the very idea and purpose of life and living. You may have brooded over the question of life while sipping a cup of coffee, or maybe you’ve tossed the idea back and forth with friends.
It may very well be the most difficult and simplest question ever devised. I say difficult and devised because it’s probably the single most worked on question man has ever attempted to answer. A mathematical equation may be hotly debated, but at some point man finds an answer. In science, we find men making discoveries, and although things like the galaxy and evolution are hotly debated, I would say they are nowhere near the question of ‘life’.
Why is the question of life so different and difficult? Let us look at the ordinary man and the philosopher. Both may address the question of “What is the meaning of life?” and remain answerless. Generations and civilizations have attempted at pitting their very best minds at addressing the meaning of life. This was the goal of the great Greek philosophers, as well as the goal of many of the great religious traditions.
However, what makes this question so interesting is unlike those of mathematics and science, this powerful question is possibly addressed by every individual who has walked the face of the earth. As my audience I’m sure each of you has asked yourself this question, and if not, please correct me. We’ve all asked ourselves this question, and just like those great minds and civilizations before us, we’re probably not contempt with our answers (or lack there-of).
So how is it that I can make the oxymoronic statement that it is the most difficult yet simplest question to answer? Is this a rational statement in the least? To the Christian, I would say so. I say the answer is simple because I can answer it in this: Love the Lord thy God.
That’s it. Question answered. Now the questions of God, and how to love, are others that are constantly asked, and they reflect the same simple difficulty. It’s difficult because man has written novels on the subject and simple because we can answer it easily.
1) Love the Lord thy God.
2) Love your neighbor as yourself.
Before we touch on love, let me dabble into our ability to love, and why these two goals formulate the foundation of life and its meaning.
God made man in His image. In this fashion, He separated us from all other creation by endowing us with Free Will. This ability to make decisions, to create, and perform actions mirrors God in his ability to act upon His will. Why did God give us free will? Because God designed us to love Him (refer to #1), and you cannot love without making the decision to love. Unfortunately for all of you out there, love is NOT a feeling. Liking something, being fond of something, or having affection for something is a feeling. Love on the other hand is not a feeling. It’s rather disastrous when someone confuses love for a feeling because it corrupts the idea of truly loving. This is one of the devils greatest lies to people who consider themselves Christians: People love God in the sense of being fond of Him, but do not love Him in the strict sense of the word.
Loving is an action of the will. To love God, you put Him before yourself in every situation. This is how you grow in your affection. You love your mother by putting her above your own self, and by seeking her goodwill over your own.
In this same fashion do we love God. He gave us free will, so that we could choose to love him. You cannot just fashion a computer to startup with the message “I Love You” and honestly claim that it in fact does. A computer and a robot cannot truly love, because it doesn’t have the free will to place you above itself. It merely crunches numbers and follows commands.
We do not. We have the ability to accept God (and love), or reject God (and sin). Why would we possibly reject God? Well the answer is found in the definition of love. If loving God is putting Him above yourself in every aspect of your life, then rejecting God is putting yourself before Him.
In here we find all our faults, and all our sins. We won’t dabble into this. The meaning of life is to Love God, as He has told us in His Gospels. In addition to that, God lays down a second great commandment, which is to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Once again, this love is not a fancy way of saying ‘be affectionate to those around you’. In all honesty, we’re not always ‘fond’ or ‘liking’ ourselves. The only reason I love myself is because I’m me. If I look at it, I sometimes absolutely despise myself, and the things I do. In this, we do not find ourselves merely ‘liking’ our neighbors, but loving them. Once again, this love is the willed actions of putting them before ourselves. We love in acting in love, and we love our neighbors by wishing for their goodwill. We reflect that same love we have for God to every individual around us.
This does not mean we cannot uphold justice; rather it’s the contrary. Justice stems from love (pure honest justice), in that we discipline because we love the individual enough to help them. This, however, is another conversation entirely.
So we now know that God created us to love Him with the free will that He gave us, and if this was the chief reason of our creation, than we don’t need to dabble in philosophies and our reasoning to find our meaning. If God created us to love Him, than our primary purpose and concern of ‘life’ is to love God. In His grace, He tells us a secondary purpose, which is to love our neighbor. In loving our neighbor, we fulfill our initial purpose of loving God by loving His creation. By loving others we display God’s own love in a physical sense. As the bible says, we’re his hands and arms, and we use those to love and nurture. In a sense it’s that physical presence of God that millions of us beg to see.
One third concern that God gives us is to tell others of His love. People are quick to receive the first two but ignore this third. This too, is disastrous. You love God by telling others of God and His love. If you merely love someone, yet do not tell them why you love, or how He loves you, than can you in all your honesty state you truly love that person? If you had a cure for cancer, would you not share it with the world?
In conclusion you could state our purpose of ‘life’ works in somewhat of a simple trinity:
1) Love the Lord thy God.
2) Love your neighbor as yourself.
3) Tell others of God and His love.
We all try to find ways to make ourselves happy. God, in His wisdom, has installed a void within us that cannot be filled until his presence and love are known. We spend time dabbling in selfish desires. One needs not look far across myspace to find individuals trying to add meaning to their lives: parties, sex, drinking, drugs, etc. We even use our intellect to try and find meaning, yet what we find is that our longings are ever-long. No matter how hard we party, how many people we sleep with, how popular we become, how rich we are, how attractive we seem, we cannot be wholly satisfied. I dare you to look at yourself. Do not glance, but study yourself intently.
That is why we seek to party harder, become richer, and become more powerful. It’s an endless void meant to be filled with nothing more than your true purpose: Loving God, loving each other, and telling others of this love.
Love is an action, and in love we love. God Bless!