The sole purpose of the soul.
In light of all the hype people have right now about finding purpose in this grand play called life, I think it might help a couple people if we discuss the purpose of life. People have wrestled with and contemplated this question pretty much since we existed. God directed the first man to tend the garden… the garden that had no weeds and zero bad weather… God also directed this same man and his wife to populate the entire earth and take dominion of it. However, beyond that there isn’t much in the way of a clear-cut, overarching purpose outlined in the Bible.
St. Augustine answered the questions of “what” and “why” in this way…
“Love God and do whatever you please. Because the soul that is taught to love God is taught by that same love to do nothing that might displease Him, and to leave nothing undone that might please Him.”
The singular purpose of our existence is to love God. If we fail at this, everything else we do is utterly meaningless. However, there is something else to be considered. Many ascribe the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes to King Solomon… if he is the author and the Bible is true, he was the wisest king in human history. His answer to “what” and “why” would seem to be radically different than Augustine’s. What did he say?
Let us hear the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring into judgement, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.(Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
So now the question to be asked if is these two are both true, how can they seem so opposite? Jesus actually bridges the seeming gap (He’s good at that kind of thing).
At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. (John 14:20-21)
This is also the reason why all of the law and the Prophets are summed up by the two greatest commandments. If we love God, we keep His commandments… and His greatest command is that we love Him. If you truly love God and truly love other people, then you will fulfill all the law concerning both… it is that simple. Rather than seeking an active purpose, lets love God. After all, Jesus said that His burden is light… right before picking up a cross and all the sins of the world two years later. I get this image of Jesus staggering down the Via Delorosa with the cross on his shoulder and a wry/ironic smile on his face, telling the crowd, “come to me, all who are weary and I will give you rest… my burden is easy, and it’s weight is light.”