A disenchanted agnostic friend recently asked, “What is the purpose of life? Why don’t religions tell us?”
I responded, “Jesus and others in the Bible do, in fact, tell us the purpose of life. It’s to know and love our Creator (John 3:16, John 17:3, Romans 8:28).
“OK,” he replied, “but why does our creator need us to focus on him all the time? How can that be our only purpose? Shouldn’t we each try to discover our own path, instead of simply staying true to him?”
“First of all, it’s important to not think of him* as human,” I replied, “or even as superhuman. God is not some imperfect-but-all-powerful being who egocentrically demands our attention. He doesn’t need us, we need him. Why? Because he is the source of all truth, wisdom and love. He is, in fact, love itself in its purest form (1 John 4:7-11). All other loves are merely an echo of his.
Therefore, to know and love God is to know why we are here (John 17:3). And “staying true to him” is no more limiting than a fish “staying true to water.” It was made for water—outside the water it perishes. As C.S. Lewis put it, “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.”
A dating service once prepared a personality profile for me. Noting my answers, they informed that me I was “religious” and would, therefore, enjoy a partner who, “like you, believes what she was raised to believe, and doesn’t question it.” I informed them that:
- I was raised an atheist
- I’m actually quite anti-“religious,” preferring to love God instead of religion
- I would rather read a good book—or even a bad one—than date a woman who “doesn’t question” her beliefs
The 17th century term “Freethinker” has made a comeback of late. But while the label had real meaning back when state churches told people what to believe, the opposite seems to be true now. Amid the increasing silencing and widespread ridiculing of faith in modern society, one of the most freethinking things a person can do is “rebel” and look into the claims of Jesus.
I’m so glad I became a freethinker (and married one). Result? I thank God every day that,
I know why I’m here.
*Technically God isn’t a “him.” But the English language doesn’t provide a suitable singular, non-gender term for us to use (“it” implies an object or non-sentient being).