Part Five: He Came To Give Us Life
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” —John 10:10 ESV
By Shereen Ghobrial
I think one of the funniest Sherlock Holmes stories is about a time when he and Dr. Watson were camping. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional investigator, appearing first in 1887 in British writing, and later with his friend Dr. Watson. As the story goes, after pitching their tent under the skies, they went to sleep. A few hours later Holmes woke Dr. Watson and asked, “Watson, look above and tell me what you see.”
Watson said, “I see the sky full of stars.”
Holmes then asked, “And what do you conclude from this?”
Watson answered, “If you are asking astronomically, then I see we have millions of stars; meteorologically, I see we will have a cloudy day tomorrow; time-wise, I see it is about four o’clock in the morning; and theologically, I see we are a tiny particle in big universe created by a great God. But, why do you ask?”
Holmes replied, “Don’t you see that someone has stolen our tent!”
The moral of this story is we tend to focus on the peripheral, or relatively minor, meanings of life, missing its main meaning and purpose. So, what is the meaning of life?
The Meaning Of Life
The meaning of life is a philosophical question concerning the purpose of our existence as human beings. Many theories have been provided based on assorted ideological and cultural ideas, but we need to turn to the Bible to seek the divine and real meaning of life.
In Genesis 1:26-27 we find the creation of man narrated as follows: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Notice two thoughts in these verses. First, men and women are created in God’s image. That means they have a shadow of His moral attributes, such as intelligence, holiness, love and will. Second, God gave them dominion over all other creatures on earth. You are not equal to the tree outside your home or pets and other animals; you are superior, created by your Designer for a higher purpose.
Look at another passage of the Bible: “… Everyone who is called by My name, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed and made” (Isa. 43:7). In this verse God clearly indicates the purpose of creating man: “for My glory.” What does glory mean? Glory is a reflection of greatness. The glory of a king is reflected in his wealth, personality and scope of his dominion. The glory of God is reflected in the greatness of His attributes, such as holiness, intelligence, justice, mercy and wisdom. Hence, the purpose of creating mankind is for God to manifest His attributes by exhibiting and exercising them in men and women.
For example, when we see the magnificence of human intelligence it gives us a glimpse of the wisdom of the Divine Creator. When we see the strong or the rich showing mercy to the weak or the poor, that reflects the glory of God, who abounds with mercy (Ps. 103:8). Alternatively, God exercises His mercy on the sinner by waiting patiently for him to repent. If he does not repent, God will manifest His judgment by sending the sinner to hell. In either case, God will be glorified.
In summary, the Bible reveals to us that the purpose and meaning of life is to glorify God by reflecting His attributes. Did Adam achieve this purpose in his life? How about his descendants?
The Lost Purpose
The Word of God declares clearly that all mankind have missed the goal of their creation and the purpose of their life. This is the definition of “sin.” Paul confirmed this when he wrote: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Notice the contradictory relationship between “sin” and “the glory of God.” The essence of sin is not so much about hurting others or breaking God’s moral laws as it is about not glorifying God in your life. This is a much wider and more inclusive definition because glorifying God would include, for example, being holy, honest, merciful, faithful and loving. When you fail to exhibit one of God’s moral attributes you are sinning, and “the wages of sin is death” (6:23).
The important thought to stress here is the contrast between death and life. This may seem obvious, but many people are looking for the meaning of their life while they are still dead in their sins. As a creature you have lost your life because of your sinful nature. This means there is no reason to look for a meaning of life, since there is no life in you anyway. Now you may wonder, “Is there any hope?”
Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). Did Jesus come to restore to us the innocent life that Adam had? Is this the life that Jesus meant? Or was He talking about a different kind of life?
God had a great plan for us. It was for the Church – the individuals called by the grace of God – to have a new type of life similar in nature to the life of Jesus Himself. The life in Adam was given from the Creator to His creature. The new life that Jesus is offering is given from God the Father to His sons.
In Genesis 2, God “breathed into his [man’s] nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (v.7). After His resurrection the Lord Jesus “breathed on them [His disciples] and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (Jn. 20:22). God breathed into Adam to give him life; Jesus breathed into His disciples to give them God Himself: the Holy Spirit.
Every human being receives life through birth. A baby carries the attributes of his parents in terms of physical, mental and behavioral attributes. For the abundant life, a person needs to be born again; only a true Christian has the new life. The Holy Spirit does this work, using the Word of God, the Bible. Similar to natural birth, in the second birth the newly born believer carries the moral and spiritual attributes of his Father – God.
Peter built on this fact when he wrote: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). What Jesus had in mind was not to improve some individuals, but to create a completely new race. The purpose and meaning of life is still the same: to reflect God’s glory, proclaiming His excellencies.
The major difference is the power that we have to achieve that purpose. In Adam, we have life from God, yet we separated ourselves from Him and the result is death. In Jesus, we have God Himself living in us by the Holy Spirit. He has the power to lead us in the victorious life that reflects the glories and attributes of our Father.