Whatever It Takes

We need clarity on the meaning of life.

I mean clarity not in terms of getting our theology in order, or knowing what to say if our pastor asked, but clarity in terms of the questions we should stop and routinely ask ourselves: “Why am I doing this? What is the goal? Where is this going?”

There is a straightforward answer to these questions, but let’s lay out the criteria before we get there.

Criteria for Clarity

First, the clarity must answer the meaning of life truly. Clarity of any kind will do us little good if it doesn’t faithfully resolve our question. We don’t just need to know what to do, but how what we do fits in with the ultimate purpose behind all things. We need to know how the truest truth of all makes the difference.

Second, the clarity must be actual clarity. The truest of clarity will do us little good if it doesn’t actually help us connect the dots. When we ask the questions of “Why? What? and Where?” we will become increasingly discontent with hazy answers. We need to know what life is all about, not theoretically but earnestly. My life, your life—what are these lives about?

The more we press in here and put our answers to work, the more we will feel the inadequacy of our Christian clichés. We need an answer that works. We need an answer vivid enough to compel our hearts to say: “I want that, whatever it takes.”

The “whatever it takes” qualifier is important. If we can’t say that, it means there must be a greater meaning to which our answer serves. Unless our answer holds up under “whatever it takes,” it will only be an appendage to our lives, not an all-consuming vision.

Building the Vision

Putting this criteria together, then, we need an answer to the meaning of life that lines up with the most important, all-encompassing truth there is and that is concrete enough to be a sincere rallying point for how we live.

In other words, how does the greatest truth in the universe effect a lasting vision for life that includes the ups and downs of real-life circumstances and is even achieved through them?

I think it goes like this:

The meaning of life is to experience and show Jesus as the supreme satisfaction of our souls.

Seriously. I think that is it. That is the meaning of life. And now, referring back to the criteria, let me show you why.

The Big Purpose

The most important, all-encompassing truth of the universe is that everything exists for the glory of God. That is the resounding theme of the Bible.

That’s why God makes a people for himself: “the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise” (Isaiah 43:21).

That’s why he forgives them: “For my name’s sake I defer my anger . … For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it. … My glory I will not give to another” (Isaiah 48:9, Isaiah 48.11″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>11).

That’s why he makes them righteous: “Your people shall all be righteous  … the work of my hands, that I might be glorified” (Isaiah 60:21).

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Jonathan Parnell (@Jonathanparnell) is a content strategist at desiringGod.org. He and his wife, Melissa, live in the Twin Cities with their three children and counting. He grew up in a rural community just outside of Raleigh, NC and studied at The College of Southeastern in Wake Forest, NC and Bethlehem Seminary in Minneapolis. An aspiring pastor and writer, Jonathan hopes to plant a church in the Twin Cities and give his life to helping people see the glory of Jesus.