The enormous success of The Purpose-Driven Life shows many people are wrestling with life's big questions. Questions like "Why am I here?" and "How do I live a life that's significant?" The following article presents answers from two theologians who are teaching the next generation of pastors and Christian leaders.
"I believe there is an intrinsic motivation, a soul quest, to search out satisfactory answers to those questions," says Dr. Roger Trautmann, assistant professor of pastoral ministry at Multnomah Biblical Seminary. He cites Proverbs 20:5, "The purposes of the human heart are deep waters, but those who have insight draw them out." Some people enter the deep waters of this search later in their lives. They reach a plateau. They've achieved financial success, met their goals, but the sense of significance they expected is missing.
Trautmann believes the Bible gives a unique answer in the search for significance. "It is my view that meaning in life is never ultimately satisfying until it is found in relationship to God," he says. "Scripture reveals that we are made 'in the image of God.' The discovery of that fact calls us to live as an expression of that divine image."
Theologian Dr. Russell Moore says the search may be a struggle. "Sinfully, there's a grasping for significance apart from Christ. The temptation to all men is the same as Satan offered to Christ after 40 days in the desert. He offered all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would bow down to him. In the same way he says, 'Bow down to me, and I'll give you all the kingdoms.' But it's a significance that comes without crucifixion. And that's a satanic form of significance."
Moore, the dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says Scripture teaches that man experiences a frustrated longing for significance. It goes back to Genesis, Moore says. "God established Adam and Eve as king and queen of creation. And in Psalm 8, the Bible says 'What is man that you are mindful of him?' The chapter ends with the phrase 'You put everything under his feet.'"
Moore says this crown of creation God established for Adam and Eveand uswas ruptured by the Fall, by sin. That rupture means man's longing for significance cannot be completely fulfilled until Christ returns. Moore says the book of Hebrews confirms this. The writer of Hebrews 2 quotes Psalm 8, but adds this important line: "Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him." He says it may help to remember that man is part of God's grand cosmic drama, which is still unfolding. At present we may not see what is truly significant. "There are going to be many faithful heroic church janitors and nearly anonymous rural pastors who will be granted great glory and ruling authority at the judgment time of Christ. Significance to God is found here in ways we sometime don't recognize or refuse to recognize," says Moore. "During Bible times, no one would have viewed Ruth's life as significant. It is only later that we see where she fits into God's larger story."
Believers may be living lives of similar significance, one not apparent to the world around them. Moore concludes, "We may be playing a role now that may not make sense until one looks back from a resurrection perspective."
Trautmann says drawing near to Christ can help a person develop this new perspective on significance. "As God indwells the believer, regenerating him through the power of the Holy Spirit, and directing him through Scripture, his worldviewbeliefs, feelings, and valuesare rearranged." Trautmann says believers may even sense a new value to their life as they seek to know Christ and please him. "One of my heroes is Eric Lid-dell, portrayed in the 1980's movie Chariots of Fire. Liddell, defending his participation in the 1927 Olympics before traveling to missionary work, said 'When I run I sense his [God's] pleasure.'"