The Universal Question
Is there a purpose...for the world and for me?
The HOPE video begins with these words...
Throughout time people have considered the world in which we live; the complexity and beauty of nature, the mystery of life and death, the depth of human joy and pain ...and they have wondered, ‘How did it all come to be? Is this world the result of chance...or design? Is there something, or someone, behind it all? And if there is such a being, then what is He like? Does He have a purpose for this world? Does He have a purpose for me in this world? Does He have a purpose for me beyond this world?
- The HOPE video, Introduction
Observe & Consider
These questions from the beginning of The HOPE are not new. People have long pondered the meaning and purpose of their lives, and they have questioned the existence of a divine creator. For many, questions about purpose and the existence of God are inseparable. Even the prominent 20th century atheist Bertrand Russell once said, “Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.” 1
Why would an avowed atheist make such a statement? Because purpose implies intent, and intent implies design. And if there is a design to this world, then there must be a designer. Perhaps then, there are questions even more basic than that of life’s purpose.
Is there a Designer...and is this Designer knowable? Please understand that it is not the intent of The HOPE to prove God…but rather to reveal Him. As the narrator says at the outset of the video, “for those who seek answers, for those who are listening, there is a voice.”
What about you? Are you listening? Maybe you’ve already made up your mind that God does not exist, or maybe you believe there is a God, but you’re unsure about what He is like. For the purpose of our study, perhaps you should ask yourself before you go further, “Am I really listening? Is it possible that there is something about God I’ve not yet heard or understood?”
In the Bible, we find a verse that tells us God has long been speaking, but that man has not always listened to Him or received His revelation.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened (Romans 1:20-21).
God is not silent. Since time began He has spoken through His creation. And for just as long, rather than simply receiving this revelation and honoring God, people have determined for themselves what they think He is like. As we see from the Romans 1 verse, the results of such speculation are futile. If we were to read further in Romans 1, we would see that such speculation is ultimately disastrous.
For the course of our study, will you consider God (or determine to discover more about Him) as He would reveal Himself? Will you listen, instead of holding on to your own ideas or speculations about God? If you will, this study guide could become quite an adventure in faith.
Ask & Reflect
- People often hear only what they want (or need) to hear. Consider a few of the things that might keep someone from listening, and really hearing from God:
- Pride – the need to be in control
- Lifestyle – behavior we intuitively know is unacceptable to God, but do not want to change
- Woundedness – painful experiences from our past that keep us from trusting others
- What else might keep a person from listening to, and really hearing, the truth of God?
- How would you answer the question, “What is the purpose of life?” Or more specifically, “What is the purpose of your life?”
- To what degree is your image of God based on your speculation rather than His revelation?
Decide & Do
Another Bible verse reads: "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13).
Regardless of where you are in your journey with God, this verse is for you. You may be asking questions about the existence of God, or you may already consider yourself a believer, but you want to know God more intimately. He promises to be found when we search wholeheartedly for Him.
As you begin this study, be prepared to let God show you who He is, and to discover new things about God and yourself. Determine that you will “search for Him with your whole heart.” Perhaps you might consider writing a purpose statement to that effect:
As I begin this study of The HOPE, I will…
1Dr. Hugh Moorhead, The Meaning of Life (Chicago Review Press, December 1988). Dr. Moorhead, a philosophy professor at Northeastern Illinois University, once wrote to 250 of the best–known philosophers, scientists, writers, and intellectuals in the world, asking them, “What is the meaning of life?” Their responses are published in this book.