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new-york-2253292_1920

Why Are We Here?

Last week’s blog post addressed the issue of our worldview. I stated that the most significant influence on our worldview are the assumptions and beliefs that we have about God. I then took our culture’s two predominant worldviews, Christianity and Secularism, and compared how each of them views human sexuality.

In today’s post, Why Are We Here?, I want to consider another important issue in our lives. Dr. Armand Nicholi is a psychiatrist who teaches at Harvard Medical School and says that your worldview will determine your view of purpose in life. He says:

It helps us understand where we come from, our heritage; who we are, our identity, why we exist on this planet, our purpose.

Several years ago, Life Publications came out with a book on how individuals coped with their quests for meaning in their lives. 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 like 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. As such, they are planting different seeds and harvesting different fruits.

Secularism does not have much to offer human beings when it comes to purpose in life. Actor and film director Woody Allen, an avowed atheist, continually laments the terrible emptiness of life:

…alienation, loneliness, and emptiness verging on madness. The fundamental things behind all motivation and all activity is the constant struggle against annihilation and against death. It’s absolutely stupefying in its terror, and it renders anyone’s accomplishments meaningless.

Finding meaning and purpose is a question that reaches all the way back to the Greek philosophers. They believed in a concept called the logos. It is where we get the English word logic. In Greek the word logos literally means “the word,” but it has a secondary meaning, “the reason for life.” The Greeks believed that when one finds his logos, his reason for life, he would be complete and whole. He would then be able to reach his full potential as a person.

The problem is that the Greeks could never agree on what comprised the logos. They could never construct a unified belief on the reason for life. Rather than being “the word,” logos became nothing more than “just another word.”

This is why, Tim Keller says, that the apostle John, in his opening words in the gospel of John, drops a bombshell on the world:

In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things came into being through Him and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it (John 1:1-5, author paraphrase).

God is revealing to us that in the beginning was the logos, the reason for life; and the reason for life was God, and the reason became a human being and dwelt among us. What John says is that the logos, the reason for life, was not and is not a philosophical principle as the Greeks believed; rather, the logos is, in fact, the person we call Jesus Christ.

When we enter into a relationship with Him and truly get to know Him and serve Him, we become complete and whole. We find a higher purpose for which to live. It is in Jesus Christ, indeed, that we discover our reason for life.

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