What’s Your Value & Purpose?

April 16, 2018 · Print This Article

It was famous philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who said, “he who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.”[1] And with life’s seemingly ‘difficult’ default setting, it is necessary that we have a ‘why’ to get through life. But what is humanities ‘why’? Why do we exist?

Suffice to say, if we don’t’ have a ‘why’ it surely leads to a life unfulfilled. In fact, a solely material world view, such as what the New Atheists postulate, cannot give you a satisfactory answer beyond the physical. But there is another problem with not having a ‘why’ that aims beyond our mortal existence.

It is something I have learnt from teaching. If you do not have high enough expectations of a student, if you don’t believe that they can be and do better, then they often will not aim to do better. Projecting and communicating a belief in a person’s ability – speaking to a person as if they were that better person – often will elicit from them the characteristics or standards you believe they possess. It is when humanity doesn’t aim for something bigger than ourselves, we can’t realise our full potential. So what is our full potential? What is our purpose?

I mentioned Victor Frankl in the last blog who wrote the book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ after spending time in a concentration and labour camp in Nazi Germany. He said that “I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.[2] For him meaning came through visualising an image of the wife who he loved (who later died in another concentration camp). Frankl had revealed the truth about the meaning and purpose of why man is alive, and it has to do with loving and being loved. So what has this got to do with our purpose?

The capacity for human’s to be loved and to love has got to do with purpose because of where this capacity comes from and why it was given. The capacity to love freely and uniquely is not some spontaneous chance happenstance of evolutionary biology. It comes from being made in the image of God – the mental and emotional mould we are made from. And from this image comes, not just value imparted to us from God, but the capacity of being loved and loving. For this is the purpose of humanity. Not because he possesses this virtue from himself, but because it has been given to him by God as we reflect his image.

By God creating us in his image, God has placed value and love upon us. In doing this, God does what I explained that teachers do above: He shows us what we can attain to, what is our full potential – full likeness in His image. But humanity has failed to emulate that image – the true likeness of God in his character due to our sin and living in a way that does not reflect God’s character. But Even though he then extended that love, by Jesus coming to earth and dying for our sins so that we may have the opportunity of eternal life “for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life[3], our purpose does not end there.

We have not just been created to be loved. We have also been created to reciprocate that love through family. It is said that one of our deepest human needs is to belong. Our desire for common connections and unconditional acceptance is a psychological and spiritual need – that’s why when families work, they are the most effective environments for wiring our brains in a way that produces our best emotional and mental selves.

And God’s purpose in creating humanity is for us to become part of not just a human family but a spiritual family. This ultimate purpose started in Eden where the first humans, Adam and Eve, were made a human family in God’s image. But that image finds its accomplishment and full potential in the first of another family: Jesus. His family is a divine one for God says, “In bringing many sons and daughters to glory…both the one who makes people holy [Jesus] and those who are made holy [those who accept Jesus] are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.[4] A family that you are destined to be a part of.

This is a family that will bring peace to this earth at Jesus return, a family where we can achieve all that we were created to achieve, and a family that imparts enteral life.

The question now is: why has this meaning and purpose been lost on humanity?

Notes:

[1] https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/friedrich_nietzsche_103819

[2] Quote taken from Viktor Frankl’s book, Mans Search for Meaning, 2004

[3] The Bible, John 3:16 (NIV)

[4] The Bible, Hebrews 2:10-11 (NIV)

[Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash]

[Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash]

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