The Meaning of Life: How Should We Live?
What is the meaning of life? Today we answer the fourth great question: “How should we live?”
Note that because this blog will take a new direction in the new year, we are going to speed up our investigation and finish “the meaning of life” next week.
We were created in God’s image. Within that image of the Creator, God placed the Moral Law. This is an inherent knowledge of right and wrong. We know what is good and what is evil. Everyone was born with a conscience. This didn’t come from society. It wasn’t something we created ourselves. It came from a source outside of us, from the source of all good. It came from God. Thus, in one sense, we know how we should live—according to our consciences.
But God also revealed to us how we should live. He did so in a book called the Bible. And the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles can be summarized into broad categories. We can call this teaching, for lack of a better word, the Didache. This is a Greek word for teaching.
How could we summarize the teachings of Christ and the Apostles into broad categories? C.H. Dodd has given us the following categories:
- We are asked to reform our conduct.
Ephesians 4:21–24 (NLT): 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. (Also Romans 12:1-2; 13:11-14)
- We should strive for the virtues of a new way of life:
Galatians 5:22–23 (NLT): 22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Also Col 3:12)
- The primary unit of Christian community is a family of one man, one woman. Within the family God sets forth proper relationships.
Ephesians 5:22–25, 33 (NLT): 22-25 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord… As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. 25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.
33 So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Also Eph. 5:22-6:1; Col 3:18-21; 1 Peter 3:1-7)
- Proper relationships within the church are set forth.Romans 12:9–11 (NLT): 9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. (Also Col 3:13-16; Phil. 2:1-4)
- Our relationships toward non-Christian neighbors are described.
Colossians 4:5–6 (NLT): 5 Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. (Also 1 Peter 2:12,18)
- Then our relationships with authorities are defined.
1 Peter 2:13–14 (NLT): 13 For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority—whether the king as head of state, 14 or the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish those who do wrong and to honor those who do right. (Also Romans 13:1-7)
- Finally, we are called to watchfulness and responsibility.1 Peter 5:8 (NLT): 8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. (Eph. 6:10-18)
That is how we should live. Christ and the Apostles gave us these guidelines. Notice how they start with our personal relationship with God, move to our relationships with our family, then with the church, then with neighbors and authorities. It ends with a call to be responsible, to work with our hands, to be watchful for Christ’s return and to watch for the attacks of Satan.
Next time we’ll answer our last question for the meaning of life: Where are we going?