Life is not an accident. There is a purpose and meaning to every life. Christians believe that God created the Earth and everything that lives on it. God knows each person individually, from the baby that tragically lives just a few minutes to the great-grandmother who celebrates her 100th birthday. God created all people and he loves them. He made people to worship him and to enjoy a relationship with him forever. God wants us to love him – and each other. In the Bible books, Mark and Luke, Jesus Christ was asked what were the most important things a person should do. He replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength…(and) love your neighbour as yourself’.
The Bible says that God made people ‘in his image’.
Jesus Christ told a story during his three years of teaching, which illustrates just how God thinks of people. The story, known as the Prodigal Son, tells how a father enthusiastically and joyfully takes back a rebellious son who has frittered away his inheritance and is now destitute.
The Bible says that God made people ‘in his image’. That is not about any physical likeness – it refers to other qualities such having a conscience and knowing the difference between right and wrong; having the capacity to love; having the desire for justice; and having extraordinary creativity. Another ability that marks us out as different to the rest of the created universe is that we are able to have a relationship with God himself.
How should we live?
In the Bible book, John, Jesus Christ said, ‘I have come that they may have life and have it to the full’. Christians believe that choosing to follow Jesus Christ makes life immeasurably better. In doing so they develop a different perspective, realising that their time on Earth is a small part of their eternal existence. They enjoy a greater sense of security, purpose and self-worth. Having a close relationship with God enables them to face the challenges of life such as loss and bereavement. They are able to move on from the things they have done wrong because they know that they are forgiven.
Christianity teaches that Christians should be an influence for good on the world around them. For example, they should love and value each other and even want the best for people who hate and persecute them; they should be hospitable; they should live in peace with others; they should put the needs of others before their own; they should love what is good and hate what is bad. The Bible teaches that God helps Christians to do all this, even when it feels impossible. And the purpose of life extends beyond dealings with others: the Bible says that God made people to rule over the Earth - not to exploit it or damage it, but to bring it under control and help it to flourish.
‘I have come that they may have life and have it to the full’.
Many Christians have made it their life’s purpose to change the world around them for the better. Christians were at the heart of movements to end slavery, to improve conditions in prisons in the UK, and working for civil rights in the United States. Others campaigned for better workers’ rights or against animal cruelty. In recent years in UK Christians have founded Foodbanks and the Street Pastors movement, which helps to keep people safe in towns and cities at night.
The Bible book, Ecclesiastes, was written by someone called Qoheleth, who was incredibly wealthy, popular and wanted for nothing. Yet he concluded that much of life is empty and meaningless – in the end, there is no value in possessions, intellect, wealth or power. But the book ends with a twist. Qoheleth, having experienced the best that the world can offer, finishes by saying that purpose of life is to ‘fear God and keep his commandments’ – in other words, respect God and follow his instructions for life.