When you shake it all down, the meaning of life is one thing: to know God, to love God, to love others.
Okay, so that’s three things. But in order to love God and love others, you first need to know God – otherwise all of your efforts fall short of what they should be. That’s why He created you – uniquely and custom-made every fiber of your personality and being – so that you could know Him. That’s how highly He thinks of you, how much He cares for you. He’s crazy about you.
But there’s a problem. God is perfect. Me? Notsomuch. And you, too. We’re a pretty screwed up bunch, aren’t we? We have all kinds of issues and baggage. We don’t care about people the way we should. We aren’t always kind. We aren’t always selfless. We pretty much want things our own way. And God, in His perfection, can’t dwell among all this screwedupedness. His presence requires perfection. Nothing we can do ourselves can make up for what we lack. Not church attendance, not Bible study, not feeding stray animals or bringing fresh-baked cookies to our neighbors. We all fall short.
Which isn’t good news for us. Created to know God, screwed up, can’t know God….and therefore can’t love God and love others in the ways He wants us to do. Just like when your kids disobey and you send them to time-out, we also have to face up to the consequences for all of our mess-ups. An eternal time-out, if you will, separated forever from the God who loves us.
Ah, but you don’t think He’d leave it at that, do you? Of course not. He loves us too much. He had a plan all along.
This is where Jesus comes in. God sent Himself in the form of a flesh-and-blood human to live with us for 33 years, teach us who He really is – not just what the religious leaders of the day thought He was – and most importantly, to offer Himself as payment for all the bad stuff we had done and would ever do. That’s what the cross and the resurrection were all about: He took the punishment we deserved so that we wouldn’t have to, then blasted Death in the booty and showed it Who is boss. He died, went to hell, and came back to life to show us that through Him, we too can have LIFE and we could at last know God – forever. Not just in heaven when we die, but right now. He wants us to have life on Earth that is overflowing with joy and hope and peace – not in the absence of really hard stuff, but in the midst of it. And He promises that the life with Him after we die will be even more amazing than our puny brains can even begin to comprehend.
So where does that leave us? Well, think of it as a big ol’ Christmas present, flawlessly wrapped in the fanciest, prettiest paper and ribbon. It’s the one you spot on Christmas morning that you just can’t wait to open – ‘cause a present that beautiful has got to be really, really great. You see the present, the giver offers you the present – all you have to do is take it, unwrap it and say “thank you!” You don’t say Oh, no. I couldn’t possibly! Or No, I don’t deserve such a beautiful gift. Or I need to get myself cleaned up before I take that from you. No – you tear into it and take it as your own.
In the same way, God is offering you a gift: Himself. To accept His gift, all you have to do is agree with Him that you have messed up and have separated yourself from Him. Tell Him that you believe in your heart that Jesus took your punishment for you and was resurrected to give you new life. Tell Him you want Him to be the Boss and that you want to spend the rest of your life – on Earth and after – with Him, doing what He wants you to do.
That’s it. That’s all you have to do to be with Him, to be part of His family. No magic words, no mystic ritual. Just a conversation and a choice. He promises to never, ever leave you – He will always be with you, no matter what. From there, you won’t be able to stop yourself from wanting to know Him, thank Him, serve others because you love Him. It’s an adventure like no other.
Life as it is meant to be. Forever.
Romans 3:23 All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Romans 6:23 The wages (cost of) sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.
John 3:16-17 (The Message) This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it.
Romans 10:9-11 (The Message) It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us…Say the welcoming word to God – “Jesus is my Master” – embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud, “God has set everything right between him and me!” Scripture reassures us, “No one who trusts God like this – heart and soul – will ever regret it.”
Isaiah 41:10, 43:2 Do not be afraid, for I am with you…When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you.
Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.