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What is the meaning of Life ?

"So there are some clues. Go exploring, and next time I see you, I'll be asking you what is the meaning of YOUR life."


From:    Pete Harms

Bo. What is the meaning of life?

Hi Pete,

Sorry to take so long to get to your question, but quality computer time has been scarce for me the last few months...that's the way it goes sometimes while I'm on the road. And these days I'm always on the road, which is how I like it. To quote a song, "We're only at home when we're on the run..."

Count on you to ask such a question! I don't even know if you're being serious or humorous, so I'll treat your question both ways. If we consult The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, we find that the ultimate answer to the ultimate question about life, the universe, and everything, is 42! Unfortunately, due to a most unusual sequence of events, we never quite discover what the specific question is, but least we know the answer! (If you've got some time to kill and like to read, Douglas Adam's "Hitchiker's" Guide trilogy is recommended reading. WARNING: Whether you knew it or not, some trilogies can go past three.)
There is actually a movie called The Meaning of Life. It's by Monty Python, and there's lots of educational and entertaining stuff in there...entertaining if you have a Pythonesque sense of humor, and educational if like your education in the form of clever songs like "The Galaxy Song." Unfortunately Pete, I don't think your sense of humor will agree with Monty Python's, and you may decide the movie is stupid and silly. (Perhaps the grossest movie-moment of all times takes place during this movie, so beware.) At any rate, when all is said and done, the best answer Monty Python can give to the question, "What is the meaning of life?" is, "We don't know!"

And you know, this is the most honest and accurate answer any human could give to this question. People who tell you they know the answer to your question are deluding you, themselves, or both. The answer is different for each person's life. So one of your goals in life should be to determine the answer to the questions: "What is the meaning of my life? What am I here for? What should I do, and who should I become?" You can get clues from others and from your own explorations, but only you can put the clues together to come up with the answer that's right for you. If your question was serious, I don't want to disappoint you by simply saying, "Bo don't know," so I'll leave you with a couple of clues.

Clue number one: Learn love. Learn to love your life, love the fact that you're alive, that there's so much life all around you...people, animals, plants...that the world is so alive in so many amazing ways. Love your wife, your family, your friends, the people you don't like, the people you've never met, even the ant that bites you. Love the fact that you can be in a state of love; then attain that state, and try your best to stay there every waking moment.

Clue number two: Regardless of your religious beliefs, take time to read Matthew, chapters 5, 6, and 7 from the Bible.
It is here that Christ gives his disciples some guidelines for living their lives. (This is the longest quote from Christ in the entire Bible.) The guidelines he gives them are fitting in their time, and they are guidelines that still are appropriate today. You can live by them, or use them as a foundation from which to choose the directions your life will take.

So there are some clues. Go exploring, and next time I see you, I'll be asking you what is the meaning of YOUR life.


"Why are we here?
Because we're here."

Neil Peart

Mathew Chapters 5, 6, and 7

Regardless of your religious beliefs, take time to read Matthew, chapters 5, 6, and 7 from the Bible.

It is here that Christ gives his disciples some guidlines for living their lives. (This is the longest quote from Christ in the entire Bible.)

The guidelines he gives them are fitting in their time, and they are guidelines that still are appropriate today. You can live by them, or use them as a foundation from which to choose the directions your life will take.


  • Matthew Chapter 5

    You're Blessed
    1When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down 2and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

        3"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

        4"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

        5"You're blessed when you're content with just who you are--no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought.

        6"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.

        7"You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being "carefull,' you find yourselves cared for.

        8"You're blessed when you get your inside world--your mind and heart--put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

        9"You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family.

        10"You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.

        11"Not only that--count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. 12You can be glad when that happens--give a cheer, even!-for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.


    Salt and Light
    13"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

        14"Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. 15If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. 16Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand--shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.


    Completing God's Law
    17"Don't suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures--either God's Law or the Prophets. I'm not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama. 18God's Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God's Law will be alive and working.

        19"Trivialize even the smallest item in God's Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. 20Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won't know the first thing about entering the kingdom.


    21"You're familiar with the command to the ancients, "Do not murder.' 22I'm telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother "idiot!' and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell "stupid!' at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.

        23"This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, 24abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.

        25"Or say you're out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don't lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you're likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. 26If that happens, you won't get out without a stiff fine.


    Adultery and Divorce
    27"You know the next commandment pretty well, too: "Don't go to bed with another's spouse.' 28But don't think you've preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices--they also corrupt.

        29"Let's not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here's what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile. 30And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly. Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump.

        31"Remember the Scripture that says, "Whoever divorces his wife, let him do it legally, giving her divorce papers and her legal rights'? 32Too many of you are using that as a cover for selfishness and whim, pretending to be righteous just because you are "legal.' Please, no more pretending. If you divorce your wife, you're responsible for making her an adulteress (unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity). And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you're automatically an adulterer yourself. You can't use legal cover to mask a moral failure.


    Empty Promises
    33"And don't say anything you don't mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. 34 -36You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, "I'll pray for you,' and never doing it, or saying, "God be with you,' and not meaning it. You don't make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. 37Just say "yes' and "no.' When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.


    Love Your Enemies
    38"Here's another old saying that deserves a second look: "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.' 39Is that going to get us anywhere? Here's what I propose: "Don't hit back at all.' If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. 40If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. 41And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. 42No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.

        43"You're familiar with the old written law, "Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, "Hate your enemy.' 44I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, 45for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best--the sun to warm and the rain to nourish--to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. 46If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. 47If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

        48"In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.


  • Matthew Chapter 6

    The World Is Not a Stage
    1"Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding.

        2"When you do something for someone else, don't call attention to yourself. You've seen them in action, I'm sure--"playactors' I call them--treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that's all they get. 3When you help someone out, don't think about how it looks. 4Just do it--quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.


    Pray with Simplicity
    5"And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?

        6"Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

        7"The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. 8Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. 9With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

       Our Father in heaven,

        Reveal who you are.

        10Set the world right;

        Do what's best--

        as above, so below.

        11Keep us alive with three square meals.

        12Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.

        13Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.

        You're in charge!

        You can do anything you want!

        You're ablaze in beauty!

        Yes. Yes. Yes.


        14"In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can't get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. 15If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God's part.

        16"When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don't make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won't make you a saint. 17If you "go into training' inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. 18God doesn't require attention-getting devices. He won't overlook what you are doing; he'll reward you well.


    A Life of God-Worship
    19"Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or--worse!-stolen by burglars. 20Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars. 21It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

        22"Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. 23If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!

        24"You can't worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you'll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can't worship God and Money both.

        25"If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. 26Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

        27"Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? 28All this time and money wasted on fashion--do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, 29but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best--dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

        30"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers--most of which are never even seen--don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? 31What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. 32People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. 33Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

        34"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.


  • Matthew Chapter 7

    A Simple Guide for Behavior
    1"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults--unless, of course, you want the same treatment. 2That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. 3It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. 4Do you have the nerve to say, "Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? 5It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

        6"Don't be flip with the sacred. Banter and silliness give no honor to God. Don't reduce holy mysteries to slogans. In trying to be relevant, you're only being cute and inviting sacrilege.

        7"Don't bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. 8This isn't a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we're in. 9If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? 10If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? 11As bad as you are, you wouldn't think of such a thing. You're at least decent to your own children. So don't you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?

        12"Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God's Law and Prophets and this is what you get.


    Being and Doing
    13"Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. 14The way to life--to God!-is vigorous and requires total attention.

        15"Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don't be impressed with charisma; look for character. 21"Knowing the correct password--saying "Master, Master,' for instance--isn't going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience--doing what my Father wills. 22I can see it now--at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, "Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.' 23And do you know what I am going to say? "You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don't impress me one bit. You're out of here.'

        24"These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. 25Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit--but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.

        26"But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don't work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. 27When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards."

        28When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. 29It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying--quite a contrast to their religion teachers! This was the best teaching they had ever heard.



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