The question of meaning deals with freewill, responsibility, values and morals. It focuses on these issues in the present. The question of history deals with the same issues only in the past. Have I been free to choose or am I a product of my environment? The question of purpose focuses on what is meaningful in our future. In other words, why are we here?
Three Relationships Reflect God's Image
Purpose in life finds its roots in that we are made in God's image (Gen 1:26-27). We are made to reflect God's image and glorify Him in all that we do (1 Cor 10:31). From the beginning, this has been manifested in three relationships. We were made to have relationships with God, humanity and nature (Gen 1:28).
A Relationship with God
From the beginning, we were designed for a relationship with God (Gen 1:28). Our relationship with God is like Jesus' relationship with the Father (Jn 17:21). Like Jesus and the Father, we are to have a relationship of faith, obedience and love. Our relationship with God is to ultimately bring glory to Him (1 Cor 10:31). Later we will explore crossing the bridge into a relationship with God.
A Relationship with Humanity
From the beginning, we were also designed
for relationships with people (Gen 1:28). Relationships with others
are like Jesus' relationship with the Father (Jn 17:22). Like Jesus
and the Father, we are to have relationships of trust,
leadership and love. Relationships with others are also like
God's relationship with people (Jn 17:22). As it is with God, our
relationships should reflect faithfulness, justice and mercy. While
these characteristics have been marred since the fall, God desires renewal
in the likeness of Himself.
From the beginning, we were designed for a relationship with nature (Gen 1:28). Our relationship with nature is like God's relationship with nature. It is similar to God's creation, providence and preservation.
With respect to creation, it reflects creativity, order, beauty and function. There is freedom to make something like nature, yet creatively different from it. As seen in nature, we can balance creativity with order and beauty with function. Here we discover the basis of art and science.
Like God in His providence, we are to achieve, control, utilize and own. As God preserves, we are to preserve, provide and pursue health and safety. Here, there is a fundamental balance between achievement and health and safety. There is also a balance between utilization of nature and preservation of natural resources. Provision, utilization and preservation form the basis of balance in economics.
What is our purpose in life, why are we here? In God's world we are to reflect His image and bring glory to Him. We are to do this through our relationships with Him, humanity and nature. These three relationships open up a world of opportunity. Each of these relationships demonstrates a partnership with God. For example, we are to manage what God ultimately owns (Mt 25:14-30). God is our role model and partner in life.