I can remember graduating high school and hearing endless amounts of advice from people who all knew what I should be doing as I move forward. People had opinions on what college I should attend, what to major in, what organizations to join, and everything else you could imagine. Even if I wasn’t being specifically told what I should do, plenty of well-meaning people would tell me things like “just do what makes you happy,” which is just as vague as it is unbiblical (but more on that later).
If you’re anything like me, I’m sure that you’ve heard countless people offer directions in life, but with so many people in your ear, it can get downright disorienting. In fact, statistics show that if you’re anywhere between the ages of 12 and 26, there is a strong likelihood that you’re still searching for direction. A study by Stanford University Psychologist William Damon revealed that only about one fifth of people within this age range have dedicated their life to some sort of purpose, and that about a quarter of young people are experiencing the exact opposite, meaning they expressed no particular purpose in their lives. The 55% or so in the middle represented participants who were somewhere else on the spectrum, still searching for purpose yet not having found it. This is a frightening reality that young people are facing, and the pandemic has certainly only increased the number of those who feel like they’re aimlessly drifting through life.
Luckily for us, as followers of Christ, we do not have to live this way. We can know exactly who we should be, and what we should do with our time on earth. The Apostle Paul illustrates this principle when he writes in Ephesians 5:1-2 that we should,
"Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
We believe that God created us (Psalm 139:14), sent Jesus to save us (John 3:16), gave us the Holy Spirit to empower us (Acts 1:8), and we know that God has seated Jesus as the ruler of all things both in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18).
Additionally, Jesus made it clear that we have been given an explicit purpose in life, and that his purpose is above all other purposes for which we can live. Before being taken up into Heaven following his resurrection, Jesus gave one of his last commands to his followers which is now known as The Great Commission. Matthew 28:18-20 reads,
"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'"
When held up to the light of Jesus’ command above, the advice to “do what makes you happy” pales in comparison. As Christians, it is clear that we were not put on earth to achieve personal happiness and comfort, but to work towards Jesus’ Matthew 28 vision. The entire narrative of scripture makes it clear that followers of Christ have been called to live like Jesus and to work towards advancing the mission of Jesus. Followers of Jesus, when working towards this aim, are able to conquer the feelings of disillusionment and disorientation that plague so many today.