In last weeks blog, I shared how Woody Allen’s worldview has lead to his sense of meaninglessness and despair. He acknowledges that in a godless universe, life is purposeless and upon death there is everlasting nothingness. Pretty bleak.
I would however, ask you to think about the issue of purpose. Purpose implies design. Look at your smartphone. Someone designed it and manufactured it. It has a purpose.
This is also true of human life, if we are to understand our true purpose. We must look to the designer, God, to determine what He intended when He designed us. What was His reason for putting us here? The Bible reveals quite clearly that God put us here to live in a relationship with Him. The Apostle Paul tells us that the most valuable thing in life is to know Jesus (Philippians 3:8). He also tells us that in this relationship we are made complete (Colossians 2:10). Most significantly, it is in this relationship that we find purpose and meaning in life, because we live in harmony with our design.
C.S. Lewis put it this way:
“The primary purpose of our lives—the reason for our existence on this planet—is to establish a relationship with the Person who placed us here. Unit that relationship is established, all of our attempts to attain happiness—our quest for recognition, for money, for power, for the perfect marriage or the ideal friendship, for all that we spend our lives seeking—will always fall short, will never quite satisfy the longing, fill the void, quell the restlessness, or make us happy. Lewis explains that “God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. . . God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”
Several years ago, Life Publications came out with a book on how individuals coped with their quests for finding meaning in life. The writers and researchers interviewed a cross-section of people from architects and philosophers to plumbers and those dealing with substance addictions.
Here are the words of a taxi driver in New York City as he tries to explain his godless view of the meaning of life:
We’re here to die, just live and die. I live driving a cab. I do some fishing, take my girl out, pay taxes, do a little reading, then get ready to drop dead. Life is a big fake…You’re rich or you’re poor. You’re here, you’re gone. You’re like the wind. After you’re gone, other people will come. It’s too late to make it better. Everyone’s fed up, can’t believe in nothing no more. People have no pride. People have no fear…People only care about one thing and that’s money. We’re gonna destroy ourselves, nothing we can do about it. The only cure for the world’s illness is nuclear war – wipe everything out and start over. We’ve become like a cornered animal, fighting for survival. Life is nothing.
Let me now contrast this taxi driver with one of his competitors, or perhaps they even drove for the same company. I met him while I was in New York City a number of years ago.
I needed to get to my meeting when I hailed a cab and hurriedly gave the address to the driver. The cab driver was probably in his sixties, and he appeared to be short of stature. He wore thick eyeglasses, and he spoke with a decidedly foreign accent. I could tell that he was kind and friendly, although he initially said little to me.
I settled into the back seat when I noticed a yellow bumper sticker staring me in the face. It was attached to the back side of the front seat’s head-rest. The sticker read simply, “Jews for Jesus.” I knew this to be a national organization of Jewish people who had converted to Christianity. However, I acted somewhat naïve and asked him to tell me about the meaning of the words on his not-so-subtle bumper sticker. Well, that was like flipping a switch from ‘off’ to ‘on’ as he joyfully told me his story. He was a practicing Jew until he realized that the prophecies in the Old Testament…those that pointed to the Jewish messiah, were clearly pointing to the man whom Christians call Jesus.
As we drove down Fifth Avenue, it finally dawned on me that he was trying to evangelize me. I finally shared that I was a Christian, and that we were on the same team.
We finally arrived at my destination and, as I was getting out my wallet to pay the fare, he said something to me that I hope I never forget:
God has blessed me. He has called me to drive a cab in New York City. Every day I get to serve people and drive them around the city, and every day I have the opportunity to share the good news of the gospel. I am a blessed man.
Here you have two men in similar roles: both provide the same, essential, and valued service in a vibrant city that is arguably the economic capital of the world’s most prosperous nation. Yet despite the similarities, they are quite different in how they go about their jobs. They have radically different worldviews and divergent perspectives on life. One view leads to bleakness, the other to hope and promise.
Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.