Ways people approach ultimate life questions. Who am I? Why am I here? What happens when I die? Over the years in ministry I’ve observed different ways people approach these ultimate life questions. Here are four of the most common ones.

Ways people approach ultimate life questions. Press on and don’t think about it

When I was in seminary as a single adult, I attended a religious conference in Glorieta, New Mexico. The conference center was nestled among mountains. And during free time, a girl, another guy, and I decided to hike up the side of a mountain.

Now this was not Mount Everest. It was covered by trees, not snow and actually had a hiking path to the top so it wasn’t treacherous. But it was very steep with some spots where I climbed on all fours. Along the way we came to a clearing and the girl and I paused to take in the scenery. We were awed by the majestic beauty and an Almighty God who created it.

However, the other guy chided us for wasting time. He was on a mission to reach the top. And as he pressed ahead the girl looked at me with a smile and said, “He’s a get there hiker.”

That’s how some people approach life.

Always busy. Moving forward. Determined to get there. So they set goals, establish agendas, and move forward on the path to get ahead. A better job, bigger house, and higher income. Don’t waste your time speculating. Just keep pressing forward.  

I see this approach most often in young adults who are full of energy, dreams, and aspirations. Older people slow down because…well, you don’t have a choice. And become more introspective as they realize there is more of life behind than ahead of them.

Of course, the Bible talks about pressing ahead too. It just has a different focus. Here’s what the Apostle Paul says:  

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (ESV, Philippians 3:13-14)

Paul pressed forward with a goal and Godly purpose which was to follow and more closely imitate Jesus Christ. He would claim his prize when he entered heaven.

Ways people approach ultimate life questions. Hope for the best.

This is my approach to golf. In my younger days I played golf with a friend who was a scratch golfer. I on the other hand, was a hacker.

And if we were on a hill in the fairway as we approached the green, and the green was at the top and we couldn’t see the pin, my friend would pace it off. He’d walk up to the hole and back, select a club, and put the ball within six feet of the pin.

I on the other hand just took my chances. Guess on the right club, hit the ball and hope for the best. Because for me, hitting the ball straight was an accomplishment and getting within six yards of the green a win.  

And this is how some people approach their spiritual life. They generally believe in God and have a sense of moral right and wrong. They know bits and pieces about Christianity and perhaps attend church occasionally. But they don’t explore it deeply or make it an important part of their life. They aim in what they see as the right spiritual direction and hope for the best.

But you don’t have to wonder. Or guess. Or hope for the best. Scripture says you can know.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. (ESV, 1 John 5:13)

The Bible answers life’s ultimate questions. And provides assurance to those who embrace its truth.  You don’t have to guess, but you do have to seek its truth. And take the time to study and learn God’s word.

Ways people approach ultimate life questions. Do good things.

This is the most common approach because most people believe in God. They have a sense of right and wrong. Good and evil. And know heaven is where the good people go. But they don’t recognize the real problem, which is sin. Instead, they mistakenly believe that God uses this spiritual scale to weigh the good against the bad and if the good wins out, you go to heaven.

So, typically, this person compares themselves morally to others. They admit they aren’t perfect, but consider themselves morally superior to criminals shown on the news. And to prove it, they post all their virtuous acts on social media.

We see an example of this approach in Matthew chapter 19:16-22.

A rich young man who encounters Jesus and he asks him, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?

 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”  He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?”  Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

He did the right things and checked off all the boxes. But knew something was still missing. So he asked, “What else do I lack?”

And what he lacked was a heart sold out to Jesus. And Jesus saw his heart. Just like he sees our hearts. The young man’s first priority was material possessions. Which is why Jesus told him to give it all away. Because Jesus wants to be our first priority. You see the do good approach wants to make a contribution. But Jesus wants a commitment. And this takes us to the last approach.

Ways people approach ultimate life questions. Follow Jesus

John 3:16 is one of the most well-known scripture verses in the Bible and says, “For God so loved the world he gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

However, Jesus was more demanding.

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. (ESV, Luke 9:23)

Following Jesus is not an easy path. Especially in today’s secular culture that is growing more hostile towards the Bible and Christians. It takes more courage and commitment to follow Jesus today than ever before.

It involves submitting yourself to God. Confessing your sin, asking Jesus for forgiveness, and following him as Savior and Lord. It’s the approach that answers all the ultimate questions in life.

Deuteronomy 13:4 puts it this way:

It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.  

It’s simple though not easy. But it’s a life full of joy. Of meaning and purpose. And eternal hope. As you consider these different approaches, I pray you consider the one that follows Jesus.

Chip Tudor is an author, blogger and professional writer. He publishes books, humorous Christian drama, and thought provoking blogs from a Christian worldview. This blog is originally published here.