This is one the most important questions humanity has ever dealt with. The conclusions that we come to will inevitably drive how we view and live our lives. It is important to first step back and note that I am going to answer this question from a Biblical worldview, but if you are not sure there is a God I would encourage you to first check our other FAQ: Are there Clues to the Existence of God? Another great resource is this video from Philosopher, Ravi Zacharias.
Q: Why am I here?
In the book of Psalms, David writes:
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
You are here because God thought about you long before you were ever created and wanted you to be apart of his great universe and to be in a personal relationship with you. He also purposely planned and crafted the type of person that you would be; your personality, skills, interests, and everything about you. To God, you are “wonderfully made!” Thus you were created first and foremost for a relationship; not necessarily to accomplish some specific task.
Q: What is my purpose in life?
This a question I asked God a lot growing up… I would constantly ask, “What is your will for my life?” What I’ve come to realize is that God does not micro-manage our lives, nor does he want to. He created each of us with unique skills, passions and personalities that help shape our interests. This naturally leads us to want to put our effort into things that bring us joy from our work. What we do, as long as it is God honoring, is largely up to us.
I’m a father of 2 young boys and you could say that it is my will that they play around the house. Now whether they decide to play upstairs, or downstairs, or even in the backyard… I really don’t have an opinion – I honestly don’t care where they play so long as they stay within a larger boundary (i.e., our property). Regardless of where they play, they are never outside my will. I am just as content to watch or hear them play anywhere around our house.
In the same way, it seems to me that God is not overly concerned with what job I have or even where I work. He most certainly cares about those things, but he is not dictating them to us. If it’s something I enjoy doing that uses the gifts and talents he’s given me and it pays the bills; that’s great! Just as with my boys, I am much more interested in my relationship with them than I am in what job or task they are doing.
A few hundred years ago a group of Christian theologians got together to write the Westminster Shorter Catechism. One of their goals was to write out in the shortest concise statement, “What is the purpose of life?” Here’s what they came up with:
“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
I think that’s a pretty good summarization. We glorify him by doing what he taught us to do, and by participating in what he is doing around us (e.g., caring for the widow, orphan, and the poor, declaring the Good News, etc.) A life lived in obedience to Christ is the best possible life one could live this side of eternity… it is a life full of meaning, restoration, purpose and hope.