the purpose of life

Review From User :

It is not uncommon to hear Christians refer to their vocational calling, or to hear of things like a Biblical work ethic, but surprisingly little has been written about what work individuals are called to in their lives. Os Guinness, an Irish social critic and Christian writer, who lives in northern Virginia, has written a wonderful book, more than accessible to general audiences, that explores meaning in life. In this case, meaning for Guinness is not something self-directed, but something one is called to from God, as a maker directs and leads his created beings.

This book, at nearly 250 pages, is probably best read a chapter a day or so; because it is as much a meditation on calling, as it is a directed narrative for the reader to study. The reason for this method becomes obvious, as Guinness wants the reader to join with him and more importantly, with the God who created them, in thinking and working out daily what it means to have meaning and calling in whatever the reader has, is and will do in life. As such, this most definitely is not a self-help book, or a list of things to do. It is a meditation on how to live and what the good life looks like. There is a tension between life as a Christian believer and as someone living in a world with different expectations, and Guinness encourages thought, that as people live with these tensions, that the remember their first calling.

Guinness chapters follow a pattern of a narrative of a historical story, even from his family's Guinness Irish heritage, where he then makes points that build on the story for the sake of the reader to ponder and act on their place in God's world. He is at his strongest when he encourages readers to develop an awareness of the difference between the certainty of a call and the mystery of calling in life; and he carefully evaluates the seeming tight line between a spiritual work and a day to day, secular work. Mystery, gratitude, patience and understanding the reader's place in the world are vital things that Guinness wants the reader to dwell on. If there is a major theme of the book, it is that the reader is to live and work for an audience of one in life, the God who made them; and because of that audience much of the meaning soon will follow.

For Guinness, the path of calling is God to meaning to call to callings, otherwise life is described as mere drudgery work, and empty in its results. As a work of meditation and thinking, the reader should be encouraged and challenged to evaluate their lives and occupations in light of their audience of one. This is not a definitive work on vocational callings, and it has little in the way of direct answers for life in the post modern world. But what it will do, is to encourage the reader to think of the first things of life and dwell in those, for the eventual sake of their individual callings. Fewer things probably occupy people more than what they are about in their work. Guinness calls the reader to consider a higher view of their occupations as callings, given meaning by a creator, who wants us to interact with him in the midst of what he made us for.


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