“Nothing in this world has meaning without a life devoted to God.”
Variations of that phrase can be heard from Christians of all stripes. It’s a common statement frequently directed toward atheists, letting them know in no uncertain terms that their lives cannot be truly meaningful without religion… without faith… without God.
After hearing that point (far too often), I began to wonder just what “meaning” religion brings to the table. For simplicity, I’ll refer to Christianity in particular, but other faiths probably have similar concepts.
I think a distinction needs to be made between the meaning of life and meaning in life… why we exist versus what we do with our existence. Christians make claims with respect to both issues (though generally the same claims for each). I do not.
So what is the meaning of life for Christians? What meaning is there in life for them? Here’s a small sampling from various sources.
You were put on this earth for one, and only one, reason, and that is so that you can have a living relationship with God. Every other reason is meaningless. This relationship with God is the Meaning of Life.
Rather, real meaning in life is when one begins to follow Christ as His disciple, learning of Him, spending time with Him in His Word, the Bible, communing with Him in prayer, and in walking with Him in obedience to His commands.
What is the real purpose of life? “Fear God and keep His commands.”
Our main concern in life must be to work in God’s kingdom and have a right relationship with Him.
– The Gospel Way
So, this is what man is here for, to serve and worship an Almighty God for a few short years in order to obtain a life forever and forever in glory with Him. It is the duty of man, it is the meaning of our life.
– Joel Hendon on SearchWarp.com
[The meaning of life] is to love God by choosing to have a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.
– All About Worldview
Some other passages attempted explanations for why God actually created humans (the meaning of life), but they were usually either weak (he wanted to have man serve him) or vague and circuitous (because of events regarding Lucifer and the “Angelic Conflict”).
What I get from all those quotes (and from many others that I didn’t include) is that what gives life meaning for Christians is serving and worshipping God… and in one case, fearing him. It seems that, without subjugating yourself to God, life is pointless.