Have you ever gotten to the place of asking, "What's the point?"
Like, on a grand, existential scale. What is the actual point of anything, of life. I've gotten there a few times, as I try to sort out one thing or another. As I try to make sense of this life and the patterns of humanity and my own puzzling brain. What is the point?
My roommate, Chelsea, asked the question out loud this week. She asked in great earnest, coming from that place of just wanting to throw in the towel, because there's only so many times you can circle around the same ideas and canned answers before they start to seem worthless.
I didn't have a response. What I ended up saying sounded a little hollow, even as I said it. And after that I spent a lot of time thinking about the point of everything, and how that relates to my purpose and, ultimately, my identity. Because purpose and identity, I think, walk hand in hand. Part of knowing who I am is knowing what I'm meant to do. And here's where the "what is the point" question comes into play:
Say I'm good at making coffee. And I travel to cool places. And I make crafts. And I write a book, and it somehow gets wildly popular and I make some money. Say I'm known all across my city, I'm a person others recognize. Say I cross a bunch of things off a bucket list and people call me successful. Say all of that is true about me. On the other side of heaven, will it matter?
So what is the point of it being true now, if this earth is temporary?
There is the existential crisis. I don't want my life to be pointless. I want to do big things and dream big dreams and make stuff happen. But our time on earth is fleeting, and will not last. The things we do, say, create, and dream, will all vanish to nothingness in the grand scheme of eternity. That doesn't mean we shouldn't dream and create and do, but none of that is our ultimate purpose. So if all the doing fades away to nothing at the end of it all, then what is the point of even trying?
What in the world is my purpose, actually? What will last into eternity?
I've been sitting on this all week, and have come up with only one answer. It's so simple, it doesn't seem right. But, the more I learn about the way God works, the more I'm understanding He is all about simplicity. So maybe this is getting close.
In John 15, Jesus tells his disciples that in order to remain in his love, they must follow his commands.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."
As I read, I kept glancing back up the chapter to see what exactly his commands were. Because, yes, obviously, I want to remain in Jesus' love, so, OKAY DUDE, tell me how to do that. But prior to verse nine, there is no mention of the commands that will, apparently, keep one in Christ's good graces. So I sped down the chapter, searching.
And there it was, in verse 12. So simply put I was floored.
"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."
The only command. All Jesus asks of me. My sole purpose. Because there is one thing that will not disappear when this world is done, and that is my soul. Your soul. The soul of every human that has ever existed. The soul is the one part of us that will go on forever, either with God or away from Him. Which, I think, is why Jesus commands us to love each other.
At the end of all my days, it won't matter if I had a great career or saw the Eiffel Tower or made myself known. What will matter is the condition of my soul. What will matter is whether or not I am in Christ's love. And, according to John, the only way to stay in his love is to follow his commands. And his command is to love.
So in the search for identity, the question of purpose is simple: Love. Love big, and love well. As Jesus loves me. That's the whole point.