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A MEANINGFUL WORLD AND A PURPOSEFUL LIFE
by Philip Owen

            Mid-Twentieth-Century existentialists embraced a formal philosophy that certainly evolved from a Darwinian view of the universe.  The world of the existentialist was both absurd and meaningless (contradictory concepts, by the way, because absurdity can only be defined in contrast with a rational universe).  Be that as it may, they believed that in such a world, life consisted only in a series of moments that served to validate one’s existence.  What one did to “validate” himself was of little import.  No action was too big or small, too outrageous, violent, or destructive to demonstrate that one was alive.  Neither morality nor conventional values had any meaning.  The critical driving force in the life of an existentialist was the need to prove that he existed in a world governed by natural forces that could supply neither meaning nor purpose in life.  But what began as an esoteric philosophy held by a few recognizably strange people has now become part of mainstream culture, without the formal philosophical underpinning.  Having swallowed the lie of godless Darwinism, many young people today live in a mechanistic world that, because it is without God, is also without meaning and purpose.  It is easy for a believer to feel scorn for what he recognizes as the irrationality of such a view, but we should feel compassion for those without the substantial hope that God provides believers through His Word.  Perhaps we often speak in terms of the blessings of salvation with respect to our deliverance from sin, our relationship with the Lord, and the rich blessings of eternal life.  But salvation provides us with another blessing:  the anchor of a true world view.  Consider briefly two aspects of this reality.

            Regarding the world.  The Bible begins with the profound and fundamental declaration that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).  That one truth, perhaps more than any other, has given men through the ages direction and purpose, and has kept them from committing heinous crimes and out of mental institutions.  Many who have not come to a saving knowledge of the truth, have nevertheless kept their sanity and a modicum of morality because of that truth.  If there was a God, then the universe made sense and served a purpose—along with everything in it.  But Scripture provides another anchoring truth regarding creation, namely, that Jesus Christ “is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17).  In other words, the universe that God created is also controlled by Jesus Christ.  The deists also had it wrong:  God is actively at work today in the universe accomplishing His purposes everywhere.  And if three points establish a plane, then here is a third point that establishes a plane on which the believer may safely stand.  God is in control of the end of the universe as He was the beginning.  Man will not bring a premature end to the world by abusing its resources or by blowing it to smithereens with nuclear weapons.  God has reserved to Himself the right to end the world.  “The day of the Lord” will arrive, “in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (II Pet. 3:10).   Furthermore, Scripture reveals in relative terms when the end will come to pass.  What an anchor God gives to the minds and hearts of His children through these revelations.

            Regarding the self.  Just as God has established meaning and purpose in the universe as a whole, so He gives both to individuals as well.  “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27).  There is meaning.  Furthermore, every man has been created for God’s glory (Isa. 43:7), but believers, in particular, have been given purpose in life.  Peter explains that believers have been saved in order to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called . . . [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light” (I Pet. 2:9).  Paul’s personal testimony, which might be echoed by every saint, is that Christ saved him in order that he “would be to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:12).  Meaning, purpose, direction, security—God has provided these in abundance through His Word to the children He loved and saved.  We do not live in a naturalistic world controlled by the fittest to survive.  Life is not a meaningless struggle to take another and another breath.  Our Creator-God is on the throne; our Savior-God is seated at His right hand; our sealing and securing God dwells within us.  May we live as redeemed men and women, filled with the peace and purpose of the Lord.

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