What is the meaning of life?

Question: "What is the meaning of life?"

What is the meaning of life? How can I find purpose, fulfillment, and satisfaction in life? Will I have the potential to accomplish something of lasting significance? So many people have never stopped to consider what the meaning of life is. They look back years later and wonder why their relationships have fallen apart and why they feel so empty even though they may have achieved what they set out to accomplish. One baseball player who made it to the baseball hall of fame was asked what he wished someone would have told him when he first started playing baseball. He replied, "I wish that someone would have told me that when you reach the top, there's nothing there." Many goals reveal their emptiness only after years have been wasted in their pursuit.

In our humanistic society, people pursue many purposes, thinking that in them they will find meaning. Some of these pursuits include: business success, wealth, good relationships, sex, entertainment, doing good to others, etc. People have testified that while they achieved their goals of wealth, relationships, and pleasure, there was still a deep void inside -- a feeling of emptiness that nothing seemed to fill.

The author of the biblical book of Ecclesiastes states this feeling when he said, "Meaningless! Meaningless!...Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless." This author had wealth beyond measure, wisdom beyond any man of his time or ours, women in the hundreds, palaces and gardens that were the envy of kingdoms, the best food and wine, and had every form of entertainment available. And he said at one point, that anything that his heart wanted, he pursued. And yet he summed up "life under the sun" (life lived as though all there is to life is what we can see with our eyes and experience with our senses) is meaningless! Why is there such a void? Because God created us for something beyond what we can experience in the here-and-now. Solomon said of God, "He has also set eternity in the hearts of men..." In our hearts we are aware that this "here-and-now" is not all that there is.

In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, we find that God created mankind in His image (Genesis 1:26). This means that we are more like God than we are like anything else (any other life form). We also find that before mankind fell into sin and the curse came upon the earth, the following things were true: (1) God made man a social creature (Genesis 2:18-25); (2) God gave man work (Genesis 2:15); (3) God had fellowship with man (Genesis 3:8); and (4) God gave man dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:26). What is the significance of these items? I believe that God intended for each of these to add to our fulfillment in life, but all of these (especially man's fellowship with God) were adversely affected by man's fall into sin and the resulting curse upon the earth (Genesis 3).

In Revelation, the last book of the Bible, at the end of many other end-time events, God reveals that He will destroy this present earth and heavens as we know them and usher in the everlasting state by creating a new heaven and a new earth. At that time, He will restore the full fellowship with redeemed mankind. Some of mankind will have been judged unworthy and cast in the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15). And the curse of sin will be done away with; there will be no more sin, sorrow, sickness, death, pain, etc. (Revelation 21:4). And believers will inherit all things; God will dwell with them, and they shall be His sons (Revelation 21:7). Thus, we come full circle in that God created us to have fellowship with Him; man sinned, breaking that fellowship; God restores that fellowship fully in the everlasting state with those deemed worthy by Him. Now, to go through life achieving anything and everything only to die separated from God for eternity would be worse than futile! But God has made a way to not only make everlasting bliss possible (Luke 23:43), but also this life satisfying and meaningful as well. Now, how is this everlasting bliss and "heaven on earth" obtained?


As hinted at above, real meaning both now and in eternity is found in one's restoring the relationship with God that was lost at the time of Adam and Eve's fall into sin. Today, that relationship with God is only possible through His Son, Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; John 14:6; John 1:12). everlasting life is gained when one repents of his/her sin (no longer wants to continue in it but wants Christ to change them and make them a new person) and starts relying on Jesus Christ as Savior (see the question “What is the plan of salvation?” for more information on this most important issue).

Now, real meaning in life is not found merely in finding Jesus as Savior (as wonderful as that is). Rather, real meaning in life is found when one begins to follow Christ as His disciple, learning of Him, spending time with Him in His Word, the Bible, communing with Him in prayer, and in walking with Him in obedience to His commands. If you are an unbeliever (or perhaps a new Believer) you are likely saying to yourself, "That doesn't sound very exciting or fulfilling to me!" But please read on just a little longer. Jesus made the following statements:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b). “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25). “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

What all of these verses are saying is that we have a choice. We can continue to seek to guide our own lives (with the result of living an empty life) or we can choose to pursue God and His will for our lives with a whole heart (which will result in having a life lived to the full, having the desires of your heart met, and finding contentment and satisfaction). This is so because our Creator loves us and desires the best for us (not necessarily the easiest life, but the most fulfilling).

In closing, I want to share an analogy borrowed from a pastor friend. If you are a sports fan and decide to go to a professional game, you can fork over a few dollars and get a "nose-bleed" seat in the top rows of the stadium or you can cough up a few hundred dollars and be up close and personal to the action. It is like that in the Christian life. Watching God work FIRSTHAND is not for the Sunday Christians. They haven't paid the price. Watching God work FIRSTHAND is for the whole-hearted disciple of Christ who has truly stopped pursuing his/her own desires in life so that he/she can be pursuing God's purposes in life. THEY have paid the price (complete surrender to Christ and His will); they are experiencing life to its fullest; and they can face themselves, their fellow man, and their Maker with no regrets! Have you paid the price? Are you willing to? If so, you will not hunger after meaning or purpose again.

Recommended Resource:

Related Topics:

What is the plan of salvation / way of salvation?

How can I know God's will for my life? What does the Bible say about knowing God's will?

How can we recognize the voice of God?

Can Christians live their best life now?

What does it mean to accept Jesus as your personal Savior?

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What is the meaning of life?