Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? Is there a more important question than this one? How do you answer this? What answers do the people you interact with at school or work give? Our new series in Ephesians is intended to equip us to understand and live in the good of God’s purpose for our lives, and then engage others with different ideas.
There are, of course, many answers to the Why are we here? question, and one important one is captured well by Harvard scientist Stephen Jay Gould who said,
We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures…We may yearn for a ‘higher’ answer — but none exists. This explanation, though superficially troubling, if not terrifying, is ultimately liberating and exhilarating. We cannot read the meaning of life passively in the facts of nature. We must construct these answers ourselves — from our own wisdom and ethical sense. There is no other way.
Gould is saying what many say today, that we live in an impersonal universe and we can’t discover life’s meaning by looking for a higher answer, since there isn’t one. We must construct our own answers, without reference to God. Though initially frightening, this is, in the end, where we find freedom and joy.
How would you respond to this idea? What are the implications? Imagine a car mechanic who shamelessly overcharges his customers for unnecessary repairs. Someone asks him, “How can you do this, it is wrong?” He replies, “Listen, I’ve got kids in college, my wife needs diabetes medicine, this is how I pay my bills.” If he is free to construct his own answers from his own ethics, how can anyone criticize him? If there is no higher answer, no point of reference outside of ourselves, how can one person assert their ethics as better than another’s? This belief system ultimately leads to an unlivable society.
Why are we here? An alternative is offered in the New Testament letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus. Here we find both a vision for our lives and a mission for our lives, something we can be and something we can do. A purposeful God is at work in the world creating a new society, a diverse people redeemed by Jesus Christ who come together in the church, the wisdom of God put on display for all to see.
So what difference does this make? Ephesians will show us that we are here to be a redeemed community, united in Christ, for the glory of God. We are here to grow as a missional community of holy disciples. If you missed the sermon on Sunday, here’s a link. If possible, take an hour this week, read the book of Ephesians, and look for how it answers the Why are we here? question.
 The Meaning of Life edited by David Friend, p. 33.