We are born to die. Not that death is the reason why we were born, but it is an inescapable part of our future. Our lives move along a deathward trajectory that none of us, even the most vigorous, can avoid. Therefore, it’s important to understand life’s purpose.
Ever since I came to Christ at age 23, I have thought deeply about life’s purpose. During seminary, the question loomed especially large as I studied philosophers and theologians to learn what they had to say about the matter. One such person who distinguished himself in both fields was Jonathan Edwards. On July 8, 1723, Edwards penned his 52nd Resolution along this line, asserting: “I frequently hear elderly people express how they would live, if they were to do life over again: [I am] Resolved, that I will live in faithfulness without regret, supposing I live to an old age.”
In today’s language, Edwards might have said that he didn’t want to climb to the top of life’s latter only to find that it was leaning against the wrong wall. God’s call is too important to waste time, and, if we’re at all concerned with God’s kingdom, we want every ounce of energy to serve its establishment. In this connection, we are struck by the central importance of embodying and proclaiming the gospel. Until Jesus returns, this is why we live.
The recognition of life’s purpose has implications. It lifts our eyes above the horizon of mundane routines to behold the priorities of God. It also calls our attention to the eternal need of men and women among whom we live. The connecting point of this vertical and horizontal axis is where our lives find purpose—the nexus point where the priorities of God and the need of humanity converge. It is here, at the center of this cross, where we find the cruciform life that saves our souls and those whom we love.