TGIF: The meaning of life

All of us know of the question: “What is the meaning of life?” But do you know what is the most common answer to that question?

Well, it’s “I don’t know”.

When I was doing my MBA, I remember how our lecturers would drum into us the necessity of a company to have a very clear mission statement. Without a mission statement, the employees of the company may not be focused on what the company exists to do. So if you were asked why your company existed, you should know the answer immediately. Yet, if we were asked the question why we exist, the answer is often not so apparent.


The way we look at life and understand our purpose determines all the decisions we make in life. Whether we should marry Sharon or Sumathi? Whether we should quit Job A and accept Job B. Whether to spend our bonus on a new gadget or to use it to help others. If we have a clearer mission statement, we would have an easier way to make those decisions.

I have been a Christian since I was twelve and to tell you the truth, even if you ask me the question “What is the meaning of life?”, I would be hard pressed to give you an answer which would score a distinction. I think it is because it is a question with an answer that looks like a newsweek article — you can read ten pages of it, have an idea of what it is about, but still be hard-pressed to summarize it into one sentence.

The reason I am bringing this up at this time is twofold. Firstly, it is Easter next week and it is usually during this time that I ponder on these issues a little more deeply. And secondly, it is the direct result a book by Mitch Albom which was given to me by Holybro called “Have a little Faith”. I found the book fascinating as it explores the subject of the meaning of life by recounting the lives of a Rabbi who wanted the author to write his eulogy when he died, and a Christian Pastor who became a pastor after nearly being killed by gang members. After reading that book, I went on to read one of his earlier books, “Tuesdays with Morrie”. In this second book, Mitch wrote his thesis on the meaning of life based on what he learnt from his meetings with a dying professor of sociology as his life slowly diminishes because of Lou Gehring’s disease.

These books were written not from a Christian viewpoint, but from that of an Agnostic who happened to be a lapsed Jew married to a Christian lady. However, what I gathered from his two books was his attempt at answering the ultimate question. As I mediated on what I read, I begin to realize that the answers to the meaning of life followed some common themes. These revolve around love, forgiveness, relationships, our attitude to money, our understanding of death, how we handle our emotions, how we react to the suffering of others and how we handle our own suffering, among other things.

If you have been asking such questions and are opened to learning more about what we Christians understand about such things, may I invite you to the “Thank God it’s Friday” event which is being organized by one of our makan kakis, Cactuskitty. It’s happening on Good Friday and it’s going to be an informal time where we explore the bigger issues of life followed by a buffet lunch.

Here are the details:

Date: 2 Apr 2010 (Good Friday)
Venue: Chinese Swimming Club, Recreational Bldg level 3
Time: 10am to 12pm (followed by lunch at 12pm)

They will be showing the video in Chinese after lunch at 2pm, so you can attend the afternoon meeting if you wish.

I was going to write a longer article about my thoughts about the meaning of life, but I came across this very interesting talk that Rick Warren gave at Ted.com. Rick Warren is the author of the book “Purpose Driven Life” which sold over 30 million copies. It was, at one time, the best selling book in the world. In his talk, he spoke about how much money the book brought him and how he gave it all away, because after all, the book he wrote started with the sentence, “It’s not about you”. So he gave it all away because he felt all the money and fame was given to him for a purpose and it was not meant for him. It’s an interesting talk and I would commend it to you as well as the two books I mentioned earlier.

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So this coming Easter, have a thought about the “Meaning of Life” and we would love to meet you at our gathering on Good Friday.

If you are planning to come, please let Cactuskitty (Shirley) know by emailing her at yshirley@starhub.net.sg. You are most welcome to bring your friends and family along too!

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