Why did God create us? What is the purpose of life? Ecclesiastes has much to say on this subject. Towards the beginning of the book, Solomon writes this:
What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after. I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind. What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted. I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind. For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow. (Ecclesiastes 1:9-18 ESV)
He tells us that life is not about how much we do or how much we can learn about this life. All we accomplish will not have any meaning for us once we are dead. All that we have learned about life will mean nothing when we have left this life.
So is the point of life to have as much fun as possible? Solomon tried that too:
I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine–my heart still guiding me with wisdom–and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man. So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 ESV)
He found that no matter how much pleasure he had, it did not have any lasting value. So what is the point of living? Is it like the bumper sticker says – “The one with the most toys when he dies wins?” In the verses we just read, Solomon tried that too and realized that there was nothing gained by it. Life is certainly not about how many things we get. Jesus also talks about this.
And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:15-21 ESV)
When you die, all the things you have will be lost to you. Let’s face it. All of us will die unless the Lord returns first. Life always ends with death. If we are living for ourselves, filling our minds with wisdom, accomplishing great things, enjoying ourselves, or getting rich, we lose everything when we die.
The only things that can truly last are spiritual things–relationships. Life is about relationships. It is about friendship. It is especially about friendship with God. To be friends with someone, we must have something in common with them. We must have a love for the same kinds of things. In the case of God, that means a love for truth and righteousness.
You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”–and he was called a friend of God. (James 2:22-23 ESV)
Abraham loved righteousness more than his son. He was willing to sacrifice Isaac to please God because he had faith in God that what He commanded was right. When we love other things more than God, more than righteousness and truth, we make ourselves to be enemies of God.
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4 ESV)
How can you be God’s friend when you are busy doing things that He hates? If you become friends of God’s enemies and do things with them that they like, you cannot also be God’s friend and do the things with Him that He likes. You have to choose who you really want to be friends with.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:13-14 ESV)
We are friends of Jesus if we do what He commands–we cannot be His friends if we do what He hates.
But if we have been enemies of God by having friendship with the world, we are dead. The whole purpose of our lives is not being fulfilled. The only way to have real life is to be friends with God and His Son, Jesus.
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3 ESV)
We need to know God and Jesus Christ. This does not mean that we simply know that they exist. It means that we know them for who they are. We become their friends. This gives us eternal life–this is a relationship that lasts beyond death, unlike anything else we could spend our lives working on.
So how is it that once we are dead by being friends with the world, we become alive again? How can we become friends of God again? Since we have been His enemies, the only way that we become His friends is for Him to forgive us of our sins we sinned against Him as His enemies.
God wants us to be His friends, so He made a plan as to how He could forgive us and still be just in punishing sin. Jesus died to take our punishment so that we could be forgiven and have our friendship with God restored. He also was raised from the dead and now lives to make that restoration through forgiveness happen.
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (Romans 5:7-10 ESV)
For this to happen, however, we must also die another kind of death–a death to sin.
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24 ESV)
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1-2)
When we die to sin, it means that we must turn from our sin in repentance. We cannot continue sinning without regard for what God wants and think that we are His friends. But when do we die to sin?
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. (Romans 6:3-7 ESV)
We must die with Jesus in order to live with Him. This happens when we are baptized into His death. We are then raised to walk in a new life. We are saved from this death of sin and being enemies of God and are given real life, where we are friends with God.
This must be done in faith. Remember how Abraham was called a friend of God because He believed God? The same is true for us–the action of baptism without faith in God’s promise of forgiving us does no good.
Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, (1 Peter 3:21 ESV)
Do you want real life and friendship with God? Die. Die to sin. Put your faith in Christ, confess Him before men, repenting of your sins, and be buried with Him in baptism into His death that provides forgiveness. Only then can you be God’s friend and start walking with Him and building this eternal relationship day by day.