Philosophy 101

"But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold."
Mark 4:20 RSV

Through the course of history, people have sought to encapsulate the essence of our existence in words. One can judge the relative significance of certain questions by the amounts written on them. Two of the greatest questions we seem to have as a species are: "What is the meaning of life?," and "Why are we here?" These are questions the ancients grappled with. Their timeworn works are still published repeatedly and debated often. Some modern philosophies have been developed to address these questions, occasionally with disastrous results. Many people today struggle through daily life, not understanding the answers to these two simple questions.

For Christians, their answers have been written out for us in the Bible. The satisfaction of knowing the answers to such questions of faith is real and available to all. There are specific answers to these questions from a Christian perspective. Jesus answered these questions himself when he summed up the rule book by which we were to live. To know the answers lays the foundation for living at peace as human beings. We are secure in the knowledge of our place in all of Creation. So what are the answers?

The first question, "What is the meaning of life?" often refers to the existence of everything in general. It may be asked both in settings of despair and of deep reflective wonderment. The answer to this question is found in the first Commandment of Christ. The apostle Mark refers to a time when Jesus was teaching in the temple. A scribe asked Jesus which among the commandments was first of all. Jesus answered the scribe, "The first is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.'" [Mark 12:29-30 RSV]. Understanding this, life itself has profound meaning and is not all that mysterious.

The answer, then, to the question "What is the meaning of life?" is the first commandment. The meaning of life is to give glory to God. He created all of us so that we may love Him. The beauty of His creation is here for our wonderment of His power and glory! Anyone can relate to that feeling of awe. Perhaps you've experienced it while sitting halfway up a cliff or hill and seeing the Fall splendor of tops of tall trees dancing in the sun below, and the gnarled roots of other trees above. Perhaps you have noticed it in a fuzzy mitten dusted with sparkling snowflakes or a caterpillar changing into a gorgeous butterfly. We realize that there is more plan than randomness to such elegance, such beauty, to Creation. All life exists so that we may enjoy it and thank God for it.

The second question, "Why are we here?" addresses our specific personal role in the general frame of Creation. Jesus didn't miss a beat while continuing His answer to the question of the scribe, "which is the first of all." He said, "The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." [Mark 12:31 RSV]. The two part answer underscores the integration of our role as humans in Creation with the meaning of Creation itself. The life of each of us here is significant.

So, why are we here? The answer is the second commandment. We are here to make life easier for everyone else. Christian service expresses the attitude that our existence is a cooperative effort. The more effort we make to help others, the more likely we will be to get such help when we need it ourselves.

True love is not exclusive. On the contrary, it should be universal. If everyone understood the love that comes with acting for others, we wouldn't have to worry about many of the problems currently facing society. All the resources of humanity could be at everyone's disposal, with needs being joyfully addressed and even anticipated.

Hope is the final feeling resulting from understanding both of these answers, parts of God's plan. His rules were put down simply for all to see and follow to get that hope. The joy and hope can continue to grow as communication increases and more people realize the truth. It is no accident that Christians are some of the happiest people on Earth. Knowing the rules tends to lead to confidence in our role here.

It is our responsibility as children of God to see that His plan succeeds. Since He has only revealed part of His plan, we can only see that we do our own part. That can best be accomplished by knowing, understanding, and following the rules of life laid down for us.

©1994 Mark S. Moos all rights reserved

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Copyright © 2001 Mark S. Moos Last Update 040218