How can I find purpose in my life?
Imagine for a moment that you’re building a house. You hire a building contractor, but he never consults the blueprints drawn up by your architect, your designer. He works without a plan. An unwise move–because the contractor needs to know where to lay the foundation, erect the walls and place the windows. Only then will the home look the way it was intended.
The same can be said of life. How can we try to build our life without first consulting the great architect of life, the one who created us for a wonderful purpose? The Bible says, “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28).
Furthermore, there is more to be gained by living according to God’s plan. True fulfilment and meaning in life is found in God. That’s why the philosopher St. Augustine said centuries ago, “You have made us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.”
By asking Jesus–God’s son–to be the biggest part of your life, you will discover the very purpose for which God created you. There is no thing and no one else who can do this–no religion, no philosophy, no person. Just Jesus. He said of himself, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
How can I find peace?
Sometimes it seems as if everything in life is conspiring against our having peace. The dog is barking, the kids are fighting, you’re stuck in traffic and you just had an argument with your spouse. In the midst of all of this unrest, how is peace possible?
The answer to this question depends in part on how you define peace. One way to define peace is simply the absence of conflict. If you can resolve whatever conflict you are facing, then you can have peace. But when conflict rears its head, peace runs out the door, and it won’t return until the conflict is settled. This notion of peace is a good start, but it is also fragile, because it is totally dependent on your circumstances.
A stronger definition of peace is one that allows you to rise above your circumstances and remain calm despite the storm raging around you. It is a sense of assurance that no matter what happens, things will eventually get better, and that somewhere, someone trustworthy is in control. This sort of peace is not dependent on circumstances. Rather, it allows you to see beyond your surroundings and fix your eyes on a point in the distance that allows you to hold steady on your course and ride out the storm.
How can you find this sort of peace? By putting your trust in the one person who transcends all of our trials and struggles: Jesus Christ. In the Bible, Jesus offers to give us peace if we follow Him. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). As God, Jesus is the only one who can truly offer us this gift. If we put our trust in Him, He will give us the strength and the endurance we need to weather any situation.
Jesus doesn’t promise that life will be easy. In fact, if we truly follow Him, He says we will experience trials of many kinds. But rather than let these problems lead us to despair, we can be assured that we are not alone, and that we are not struggling in vain. As the writer of the book of James in the Bible says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3).
You can place your trust in Jesus by asking Him to help you deal with your circumstances. Are you struggling with something right now? Take a moment and tell Jesus about it. Tell Him you trust in His ability to help you deal with the situation, and ask Him for the strength and wisdom you need to get through it. Then wait expectantly to see what God will do. Your circumstances may not change, but your level of peace and contentment will.
How can I deal with past mistakes?
A common misconception about Christianity is that before we can become believers, we first need to be perfect. Only after we’ve taken care of all of our past mistakes do we dare approach God and ask Him for forgiveness.
One problem with this belief is that it sets us up to fail. There is no way we can ever resolve all the bad things we do, because by the time we fix one mistake, we have already made another. Making mistakes is like breathing for humans; it’s part of our nature. The other problem with this belief is that it misses the whole point of Christianity, which is precisely God’s plan for dealing with the bad things that we do. We can’t fix our mistakes, only God can.
So what can we do about this situation? This is best explained with an illustration. For every crime committed, our legal system has a punishment. These punishments vary in severity according to the nature of the crime. The Bible states that there is a moral law at work in the universe as well. This law is based on God’s perfect character For every thing we do that violates God’s character, there is a punishment. Only in this moral system, every crime is given the same punishment: separation from God. The reason being that God is perfect, and anyone who is less than perfect cannot exist in His presence. This situation may sound hopeless, but God has created a way to fix it.
Imagine that you were in the courtroom awaiting the sentence for a serious crime you had committed. The judge looks down at you gravely and pronounces your punishment: death.
As you stand there trembling in your boots, the judge quietly takes off his robe, descends from his podium and approaches you. You brace yourself, not knowing what to expect. To your surprise, he calmly reaches out, unlocks your handcuffs and tells you you’re free to go. You stand there mystified, not really sure if you should believe him.
“But, why?” You finally stammer out.
“I will pay the penalty in your place,” he says. “Because I’m your father, and I love you.” He hugs you, and allows himself to be led away by the guards.
This illustration describes what God has done for us. We’ve broken the law, and we should be punished. But because of His love for us, God, the maker of the law, has paid our debt Himself. He did this by coming to earth in the form of Jesus and taking the punishment we all deserved. Only the maker of the law could do this, because it is to Him we owe our debt. All of our mistakes, past, present and future; and all of our moral debts were dealt with by God through the execution of Jesus.
However, one thing remains for us to do. We must believe that God has done this for us and accept the forgiveness He made possible. Only then will things be right between us and God again. If we do, our past mistakes will be made right in God’s eyes. His record of our wrongdoings will be wiped clean. And when we die, we will be free to live with Him forever, exactly the way things were originally meant to be.
How can I really change?
A simple response to this question would be to say that you can’t change your life, at least not in any fundamental way. You can change the way you look, and, through force of will, you can even change some of your thoughts and actions. But your essential nature-your soul-is impervious to human efforts to change. Only God can do this, because He created us, and He is the only One who exists above and beyond our human nature.
Many people live their lives under the assumption that if they are basically good, moral people, God will be pleased with their lives and reward them accordingly. Other people believe that if they discipline themselves to perform the correct religious rituals that they will earn favor with God. Still others believe that the way to reach God is through the acquisition of knowledge. The more they know, the better they rate in the eyes of God.
The problem with each of these attitudes, from the perspective of Christianity, is they all miss the point entirely. Changing your life is not accomplished by moral behavior, sheer force of will or intellectual pursuits. No matter how good, strong or intelligent we think we are, the fact remains that we are still in such a desparate, wretched condition that nothing we do can get us out of it. The best we can do still falls hopelessly short of God’s perfect standard.
As the prophet Isaiah says, all of our righteous acts are like filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6). Rather than us trying to reach up to God’s standard, Christianity is all about God reaching down and pulling us up out of the muck and onto solid ground. Only then can we tap into His power to change our lives and our very nature.
This change is made possible through Jesus Christ, who is God in human form. In our natural state, the bad things we do separate us from God, because God is holy and no one who is less than perfect can survive in His perfect presence. We would be overwhelmed and crushed by His greatness. But Jesus made a way for us to go back to God by paying the penalty for the mistakes we make. He took the blame for us so that we might be set free. He did this by dying on the cross. Because of this selfless act, we can now have a close, loving relationship with God, exactly how He originally intended things to be.
But Jesus’ death did not only deal with the eternal consequences of our actions, it also opened the way for God to manifest His power in our lives on a daily basis. This means that whatever problems or issues you are struggling with right now, you can ask God to help you overcome them. And whatever aspect of your life you would like to change, God can make it happen. All that is required is that you admit you have made mistakes, accept the forgiveness that God offers through Jesus and invite Him to be the centre of your life.