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On Life’s Ultimate Purpose
The haunting lyrics from the famous 1966 film Alfie, with rather wistful desperation, seek for some viable sense of meaning in the oft times gray, grinding routine of life: “What’s it all about, Alfie? Is it just for the moment we live? What’s it all about-what’s it all about, Alfie?”
Perhaps you ask yourself the same question these days. The alarm clock rings and you haul yourself up and off to another day…..of what? For what?
Tony Campolo used to teach at the University of Pennsylvania. One day, right in the middle of a lecture to a class of about 750 students, a young man stood up and yelled out, “Bull—-“. Campolo responded by saying, “That kind of behavior will get you in trouble.” The student answered, “Who cares?” So Campolo said, “I’m going to throw you out of this class.” To which the student repeated, “Who cares?” Campolo said, “If I throw you out, mister, I’m not going to let you back in-ever.” Once again the young man responded, “Who cares?”
By this time, Campolo said he had pretty much figured out where this conversation was going. Had he said, “If you get thrown out of this class, you can get thrown out of this university”, the fellow would have yelled, “Who cares?” Campolo would have said, “If you get thrown out of this university, you won’t be able to get a good job.” The kid would have yelled, “Who cares?” Campolo: “And if you can’t get a job, you won’t be able to buy all the things you don’t need.” To which the guy shouts at the top of his lungs: “Who cares? Who cares? WHO CARES?”
Who cares? Why are we here anyway? Do we really have a reason, a purpose, a goal, a noble charter – individually or otherwise? Do we even know where we’re going?
Former U.S. Senate Chaplain Richard C. Halverson observed earlier this year that genuine human progress “requires a legitimate end, and in our culture all our ends are means. Individually or collectively we have no legitimate, no ultimate goal.” So really, in the final analysis, “where is our progress?”, he asks.
The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield has been at the top of the New York Times best-seller list for months. The book centers around the search for an ancient Mayan manuscript that sets forth Nine Insights-New Age wisdom about life and ultimate reality. The second and ninth of these insights, particularly, deal with the issue of life’s ultimate purpose. Judging from book sales, that’s a subject that strikes a very responsive chord in a whole lot of people these days.
The Second Insight states that during the first half of the last millennium the Church was dominant, and then during the second half people became preoccupied with material comfort. Now, as we approach the new millennium, humanity is said to be awakening from this preoccupation. Instead of focusing so much on “making a million dollars”, we’re ready to get back to the basic task of discovering life’s ultimate purpose.
Redfield suggests that our new mission should be to “contribute to the spiritualization of the world in a conscious way”-an emphasis that will, he says, lead to humanity’s ability to “evolve beyond this plane” and to “unify with the afterlife” as we “raise our vibrational level to higher and higher degrees.”
So… the subject of life’s real purpose is a hot item all over these days. People are taking stock. And that is good. But historic Biblical Christianity presents a very different idea of life’s ultimate purpose-one that transcends the passing notions of this ‘New’ Age and every other age.
The prophet Isaiah was speaking for the infinite yet personal God of all creation when he said (in Isaiah 43:6b-7): “Bring My sons from afar, And My daughters from the ends of the earth, Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made.”
In other words, according to the Scripture, man’s created charter in this life is to glorify God. The chief end of man is to know God, to serve God, and to enjoy God forever. God is personal and knowable, yet altogether separate from His creation. And only through the Person of Jesus Christ (not the ‘elevation of our vibrational levels’) can we ever have fellowship with Him-in this life or in the afterlife.
To know and serve Jesus Christ is to be our leading priority in all of life. Therein is our great hope, but therein also is our great challenge. Campolo says that it is even impossible to be a true disciple of Christ until we “rise up and say ‘Who cares?’ to everything that this culture is trying to sell us.”
Perhaps you’ve been reading our thoughtletters for some time now. You’ve come to be convinced that there really is a reasonable basis for the Christian faith. You know about Christ. But you’ve never come to know Him. If you’ll write or call us today, we’d be pleased to offer you further personal guidance about how to experience just such a relationship.