What is the Real Meaning of Life?

“Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die”. This, says the Bible, is basically what life amounts to if there is no existence beyond the grave. If that be the case, we may as well enjoy ourselves while we can. After death, our bodies will decompose and, in time, our atoms be scattered into the universe. The best we can hope for in such a situation is to leave some legacy which will be of benefit to others. There is nothing wrong with such an aim, of course, but is there anything more?

In other articles in this series, we have briefly pointed to evidence for God, Christ and the reliability of the Bible.  These matters being true, life takes on a much more significant meaning. This is discussed in that portion of the Bible known as the book of “Ecclesiastes”. This book, which seems so contradictory and pessimistic at first reading, actually provides us with a strong sense of optimism and purpose.

“Ecclesiastes” records one man’s search for life’s meaning. Being incredibly wealthy and powerful, he (Solomon) could experience anything life had to offer and purchase anything he desired. This included knowledge, wisdom, pleasure and possessions. He found though, as we all do, that all of these things have limitations. Knowledge and wisdom does not save us from ill health or ageing. Wealth and possessions can be lost due to circumstances beyond our control. Happiness cannot be guaranteed. We can try our best to provide our children with a positive upbringing and generous inheritance but there is no assurance that they will make wise use of what they receive.

The ultimate limitation is death. No matter how much we accumulate or achieve in this life, we all die. And as the saying goes, you never see a hearse pulling a trailer. When we die, we leave all our material gains behind. We cannot take them with us.

Solomon’s search thus led him to a conclusion. If the real meaning of life does not lie in material possessions or worldly experiences and achievements, it must lie in something else. That “something else” lies in the spiritual realm. All his experiences and observations made Solomon realize that there is one thing which cannot be limited or lost, even in the face of death. What is it? A relationship with God which results from following His teachings (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14). Such a relationship can continue throughout this life and on into eternity. Rather than separating us from God, death instead becomes a doorway leading us to God.

Centuries after Solomon, a Christian named Paul pointed to the same conclusion. He declared that God put us here on earth so that we “should seek God” and “find Him” (Acts 17:27). Is that possible? Paul went on to say of God that “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). In other words, God can be found. The task is not too hard. (He has given us all the information that we need in His word, the Bible.) Speaking to His followers, Jesus Christ made this promise: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:2, 3).

Yes, we can make it our aim to help others and to make a positive contribution to society. We can do our best to prepare our children and grandchildren for adult life. But as noble as these aims are, there is something greater. Life’s true meaning lies in turning to God through Jesus Christ. That will bring eternal results which, if you persevere, nothing (not even death) can take away from you.