Friday, June 14, 2013

Continuing Thoughts on the Purpose of Life

In the prior two posts in this series I expressed brief summaries of my problems with commonly expressed beliefs as to why God created humans. If you disagree with my thinking on this, that is quite all right with me. I do not pretend to know all. I do not claim originality. I am not a professional theologian, I am not a philosopher, nor am I a mathematician or physicist (all of whom have expressed opinions on how we got here). But, as stated in the title of this blog, these are my thoughts! And I am a thinking person.

While I was sitting in church thinking about the Purpose of Life, this is what popped into my head. I grabbed a notepad and pen from my purse and jotted it down. It sounds simplistic and, perhaps at first glance, naive.

The purpose of life is.. .

LIFE! Life itself. Life abundant, life teeming over the surface of this planet. Life turning a sterile lump of cosmic rock into a beautiful and amazing place. Life in such a variety that it has not all even been cataloged by humanity. Life so imaginative we must be constantly amazed (consider the little weaver bird, constructing that intricate nest with nothing more than beak and claws).

Without life, this universe would be nothing but a large-scale clockwork construct.

With life it is an ever-changing, intricate, inter-dependant, glorious thing.

Our God is a creative being.

Why does the painter create picture after picture? Why does the sculptor labor to bring a form from the rock? Why does the architect design ever more complex buildings (and why strive to make them beautiful as well as functional)? Why does the little child love to take a crayon and make colored marks on paper? Why does the quilt-maker spend so much time making a beautiful piece of art, when something much plainer and easier would keep her as warm? Why does a cleaner feel such satisfaction when the furniture gleams? Why does the gardener plan and plant flower gardens when the space could be used to grow food plants?

The Scripture tells us that God created man in his own image. We are creative because God is creative. We enjoy a rush of satisfaction when we have accomplished something. So does God. That is expressed over and over in the first chapter of Genesis.

But God did not create robots when he created life. Where would be the satisfaction in that?

And, so, sin entered into this world through choice.

And the perfection of this world was corrupted. Thus, as Jesus said, in this world we will have trouble.

Sin disrupts the beauty of life, spoils its purposes, degrades the creation.  But life remains, beauty remains, even through the trouble and pain that can come. The consequences of sin are endemic and systemic. A person may be suffering, not because of some specific personal sin, but because of being a resident of this world. (That said, some consequences are the direct result of personal sin; i.e., the damage of drug addiction, a prison sentence for a crime committed, etc.)

Within this life and in the world, therefore, we seek our personal Purpose in Life. We seek that which we are good at, that which we enjoy, that which brings personal satisfaction. People of faith understand that we have a purpose in life to do as little harm as we possibly can, to heal, to love, to nurture where we can, to make things better, not worse, for those with whom we come in contact. We desire to leave behind something good. Our individual purposes in life, the way we contribute good, can be immensely varied. Building a house? Make it the best building you can. Cleaning an office? Make it a pleasant place for the people who will work there. Writing a book? Make it the best book you can write. Parenting a child? Love that child, discipline with love when necessary, teach and demonstrate how a human being should behave. Demonstrate the nature of a loving, creative God in your own life.


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