Purpose

January 6, 2009

One of the first question a child asks is ‘Why?’.  (It is also one of the most important question we ask as well, right there next to ‘Who’s yo daddy?’)  This question taps into the very center of our search for purpose of existence.  It is more than just the scientific inquiry of the mind in an attempt to find out how things work.  Behind, or beyond this layer is the desire to understand the intent and the purpose, not just the mechanics of how things came about.

This is best exemplified in the different seasons of our lives.  When we are young, we are filled with thoughts and dreams for the future.  We often ask our kids, and encourage them to ask of themselves, what they want to be when they grow up.  We want them to dream dreams.  In Sims 2, a cool computer game that everyone should buy, all the child sims have the same aspiration: to grow up.  That is their purpose in life; to grow, to mature, to direct and plan for rest of their lives.

For most adults, their purpose and meaning comes from their job or their families.  (Unfortunately, the modern western culture has seem to almost lost that type of friendship described in other cultures.)  Getting that promotion or a bonus is a purpose that many work for.  Settling down, buying a house and building a family is part of that American dream.  The purpose, then, comes from the now, the present moment.  The mandate of Andrew Ryan, the founder of the Rapture from Bioshock, that we are entitled to the sweat of our brows, resonates with them.

As people pass from adulthood to old age, they come to focus more on their past.  They love to tell stories about their glory days, or lessons they’ve accumulated throughout their life journey.  Their purpose in life, their reason for existence, by and large comes from what they have accomplished before.

And then we die.  Here the materialistic view offers us no consolation.  Do we live our lives to be remembered by others?  But being remembered is of no consequence for those who are dead.  There is no ultimate purpose for our lives.  And even before we die, our childhood dreams are shattered; or worse, we attain it and find that it isn’t all it was hyped up to be. We become successful but find life to be utterly empty. Rapture quickly devolves into a dystopia.

This is when Christ comes to our rescue.  What he has done in the past (for Christianity hinges on the His incarnation as a historical fact), allows us to live in the present, with the hope for the future.  Here then is something that blows meaning and purpose into all things we experience, even the pain and suffering.  Here He blows life into an empty husk.

And perhaps it seems coincidental, but Christ also answers that other important question of “who’s your daddy?”, this question of identity.  He defines our identity in relation to God.  We are not our own anymore.  We are not orphans, but are declared to be His children.

I’ve found the key to stop liking someone: keep thinking about their flaws. It’s kinda sad, and can be ineffective if you don’t know any of their flaws. But then you know you shouldn’t be liking them in the first place.

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