Who is God?
Who am I?
What is the purpose/goal of life?
How should I live to achieve that Goal?
Who is God?
Even if you are an agnostic, atheist, or you dont believe in the existence of God or a deity, you have to answer this question. Why? Because everybody has a God (or Gods) that governs the motivation of our existence. even if the word “God” never crosses our lips, we have central person or thing or objective we serve with all of our best intentions. As Christians, we might answer simply the question: God is love, God is the loving God. God is the almighty creator. We can answer the question “who is God” by mentioning as many as possible adjectives related to God like the ones we encounter in the bible. Or we can answer this question by telling our personal experience with and about God in our daily life or in our prayer and reflection. For people who are not consciously pursuing religious quest, the question still must be answered. Some of the answers are evident in where our passion lies: God is security, personal freedom, happiness, my job. God is the pursuit of wealth, fame, reputation, self-actualization or power.
To figure out which God you serve, all you have to do is examine your life. Who or what demands your allegiance before all else? Where does the bulk of your passion and energy go? What would you be willing to die? How do you use most of your time? What are your deepest longing? What are your values? Sometimes our answer to these questions may surprise us. Maybe we thought that our God is the one we talk about in church, but the truth may be that our own comfort, ambition, your work, your wealth, your money, your security is your real God we are committed to serving. We may give lip service to God in heaven, but much of the time we are humbled to realize that we are more dedicated to serving ourselves here on earth.
Who am I?
I read a book about “quarterlife crisis”, and it is very interesting to find out that the biggest crisis for young people these days is “identity crisis”. Young people find the easiest way to define who they are by what they do. When they have job description, when they have work, they sometimes apply it to their identities because that is the only constant they have. According to the author of the book, these young people will tell all work-related stories when they are talking to somebody. It is always about work, being proud or just wants to show off about how important he/she is in this society. The author has nothing against being proud of what people do, since this is a normal phenomenon among young people today. But when somebody continuously just identify their identity to what they do, it would be a huge crisis in his/her personality in the future, and certainly it will cost him/her so much, and not only him/her, but the family or loved ones. They always have problem in interpersonal relationship. Very few people can understand him/her and usually, this kind of person is psychologically problematic.
The matter of identity is very crucial for us. Being male and female, gay or straight, old or young, Christian or Muslim, famous or obscure, intellectually gifted or challenged- all these elements are pertinent to how we go about living our lives. The matter of identity is not only about what we do, but again about who we are, with its dimensions. Identity becomes an existential-philosophical question or even theological question when we recognize that all of the useful energy of our lives goes into the service of who or what our God is. Because of this, when we answer the first of the four big questions (who is God?) in a way, we have already answered the rest.
In other words, who I am and how I understand myself is largely determined by who I think God is. Your life will be evaluated through that fundamental lens -who you think God is-. If the God you know is the God who loves and forgives, you will put your effort to build that kind of identity into your life in whatever you do. If the God you know is security, wealth, fame and reputation, or money you will recognize yourself as a hard worker with promotion, salary, power and pleasure as your standard and measures in life. You will always think and talk about power, money or things that you can buy or places you could visit. And you will try to show people that you are successful and have good reputation. Image is important for such people because with the good image, they feel secure.
What is the Purpose/Goal of Life?
At this point you can see how answering the first of the four big questions really has an impact on your response to all of them. Who God is and who we are, determine what the point of living in this world really is, which bring us to the third question: what is the purpose/goal of life? If your God is money, as it is for some folks, then they will define themselves in the acquisition of money. The goal of their lives become clear: to get more. This goal will likely crowd out some others like their attention to a spouse-husband and wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/children or personal development.
There are people who really work hard. They don’t nurture their “inner beauty” and “inner life”. Their lives become so miserable and boring. Their ideas are not so bright and they cannot talk about something inspiring about life anymore. The only thing that can inspire them is money and pleasure. If your God is money, it will bring you to compromise certain moral principles that get in the way: fairness, honesty, and sacrifice. If our goal in this world is to please, to be found worthy, then life becomes a juggling act of keeping the entire worthiness factor in the air. When somebody has something she/he thinks will displease people, she/he will try to hide it from people. But if God you know is God as a compassionate person, a loving person, forgiving friend, we might then identify ourselves as the recipients of great love. Life will be built on this perspective and we can share this perspective in our lives and to others. There is a big problem from modern people today. They don’t know anymore God they believe in. For some people, religion is no longer a pathway to God. It is more simply a ritual, or institutional matter or social interaction or identity. No wonder if some people do not know anymore what it is of being a Muslim, catholic or Christian, Buddhist, etc. Religion is a symbol and not a pathway to spirituality.
How Should We Live?
At this point, the mathematic of these questions seems pretty clear. You plug in the first response to the equation and the rest of the numbers add up naturally. Once we answer first question honestly (who is God?) then the personal identity, the goal of life and how we should live are surprisingly clear and answered. But we should notice that the first two questions are personal questions (who is God? and who am I?) but quickly these two personal question become interpersonal questions: what’s the goal of life and how do we live that out in the world around me? Some people who seek self-actualization, security, wealth, power and good reputation as their main principles and orientation will find others as means to achieve their dreams, ambition and longing.
Consciously and unconsciously, these people tend to manipulate relationship with others to serve their needs, ambition and dreams. These people are so demanding when it comes to relationship with others in any context. When they have power over somebody or when they are in equal position to somebody else, they will stand up and fight and tend to manipulate people around, but when they have no power the defense mechanism is to complain and whine. For these people, self-satisfaction and self-happiness is the only focus.
We were designed with the relationship with others. What is the evidence for this hypothesis? the answer is simple: Love. Love is the perfect indicator that we were designed with relationship with others. And philosophically, human being could only be understood by relation with others. Philosophy gives us evidence: language. If we are made for love, and if we are made of love, and if we need to express love or to express our feelings, idea through language, with need one another. It is an absolute truth.
So, being with somebody, being in love, loving each other, or being in a community is not just an ideal. It is a necessity. But sometimes we don’t know anymore how to deal with people; we don’t know how to love people, and we don’t know how to understand people because we are too busy to love ourselves, to seek ourselves and to seek self-actualization selfishly.