There is no shortage of studies, both secular and spiritual, that point to mankind’s desire for purpose. There is the study out of the University of Virginia that says over 90% of people want their life of some sort of meaning. There’s the recent study in the Health Psychology Review that shows how having meaning in life is directly connected to physical health and longevity. And then there’s the slightly older “study” written by a man named Solomon who wrote, “He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart (Ecc 3:11).
In this way, sociological studies are proving what the Bible has said all along: everyone wants to make an impact. This desire is not an evil or prideful one in and of itself, for we’ve been created with eternity in our hearts, and we’ve been wired to wake up every morning with our eyes set on more than just surviving here. We want to thrive in life. But alas, you know what seems to often stand in the way? Ironically, life. As the famous saying goes, “the thing about life is that it’s just so daily.”
Daily routines. Wake up, work, eat, errands, eat, bed. Repeat. It can be difficult to find meaning in the mundane, to make an impact on any given Wednesday. So is this concept of impact merely an idealistic, yet unrealistic, way to live life or can it actually happen? The answer is yes, but the Biblical prescription to do so may seem counterintuitive at first. Christian, the way to make an impact in this world is to not set your eyes on this world.
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Philippians 3:12-16
The best life worth living is the one where we keep our eyes fixed on the prize of Jesus Christ. There is a common phrase, “don’t be so heavenly minded that you’re of no earthly good”, but while common, it’s not Biblical. It’s not true. The better phrase is “if you want to be of earthly good, be heavenly minded”. Here’s the pathway:
1) Believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior
All throughout Philippians, Paul makes it clear that purpose and meaning is not a matter of what you do, but who you know. By God’s grace, Jesus Christ has emptied himself and became obedient to death on a cross (2:7-8), so that we may know Him by faith (3:9-10), and reorient our life to live for him (1:21).
2) Forget What Lies Behind
A purposeful life does not dwell upon our achievements or failures in the past. This is the kind of forgetting that Paul has in mind, that we would not be too prideful or too dejected based upon what we’ve done before today. If we dwell on past accomplishments, we will be puffed up and prone to wander away from our dependence on the Lord, and if we dwell on past failure, we will be discouraged and prone to think too lowly of ourselves. Either way, keep the past in the past. Rather:
3) Strain Toward What Lies Ahead
The best part about salvation is not the benefits that come with knowing Jesus, it’s Jesus Himself. And the best promise we have to cling to is that one day, we will know Christ in full and be with him for all of eternity. The prize Paul was after was not a prosperous life, or a purposeful life, it was Christ-filled life. This is one of the most foundational truths we have: that truly resting in Christ in our salvation provides the fuel to press on towards Christ in our life.
When our minds and hearts are set upon this prize in the future, it hyper-focuses for the purpose we have today.
4) Press On Today
With our minds set on the prize of Christ in glory, we are best equipped to make an impact in the present. CS Lewis made the case for this most convincingly in his masterful work, Mere Christianity:
“If you read history you will find that the Christians begin the most for the present world are just the ones that thought the most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot. in the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark one Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so in effective in this. And that Heaven and you’ll get the earth “thrown in”: aim at earth and you’ll get neither.”
A boring life is a wasted life. Simply living for the weekend is squandering your purpose and opportunity to make a real impact in this world.
And a purposeful life is found in knowing Christ, and making him known. It’s found in loving God and loving others, and we are best equipped to do this when we dwell upon our future inheritance. So Press on, believer. Wake up each day with the question, “Lord what do you have for me today? Today is all I’m guaranteed in this world, so what do you want me to do today?”. A life that is lived out for the Lord cannot be mundane. It’s the highest calling there is.