Life is full of choices: What kind of cereal to buy…what to wear today…which team to cheer for…which emails to respond to…who is the one…and how to spend our time–just to name a few. But our choices are driven by questions. More specifically, they are driven by how we have answered certain ultimate questions. These are worldview questions. For example:

Origin – Where did I come from?
Identity – Who am I?
Meaning – What is my purpose?
Morality – How should I live?
Destiny – What happens when I die?

All of us have answers to these questions. And these answers–thoughtfully acquired or not–shape how we live, think, and interpret reality. They are the essence of the stories we live. Let’s explore these questions a little further.

Origin. This is not a “where do babies come from” type of question. This is a “why does anything and everything exist at all” kind of question (including human babies!). Are animals as valuable as humans? Are we the end result of a purposeful plan or a cosmic accident? How does our story begin?

Identity. Do we have value because of who we are? Or do we only have value when we fulfill certain functions? We are all born performers, that is, we think that we derive value if we live up to everyones expectations. In fact, this narrative is reinforced at every turn in our society. But is it true? Are we all destined to be people pleasers forever or is it possible for us to be perfectly loved and secure–despite our performance? Do I matter in this story?

Meaning. This is much bigger than what do I want to be when I grow up. What is my place in this great cosmic story? Do I even have a place? Do I create my own story? And how do I know if I am living in the true story of reality? As we talked about in a recent podcast, there is something in all of us that longs to matter. 200 years from now, will it matter how I lived? Ultimately, does it matter that Adolf Hitler lived one way and Mother Theresa another? Is the purpose of life reducible to promotions, possessions, and fleeting passions? Which story do I choose?

Morality. What happens when my desires bump into (or run over!) yours? Is that right? Wrong? Are those categories even appropriate? Does morality depend on individuals? Cultural consensus? Or is there an objective (i.e., mind independent) standard that determines right and wrong or good and evil? Is there a moral law giver? Is there a judge? What about justice? If people are smart and can get away with it in this life, have they escaped justice? Why be moral if it is not convenient for me? Who am I becoming as a person? And does that even matter? Is there a right way to live my story?

Destiny. While everyone experiences a funeral differently, the unavoidable (and uncomfortable!) reality is that we are all moving towards our own. One day, each of us will grow cold and die. On that cheery note, we must all still face the question–is this life all there is? Is there life after this life? How do we know? Are there rewards and punishments for how we lived this life? And who gets to decide that? On what basis? Can we know our eternal destiny? Who has the authority to answer these questions? How does our story end?
We don’t think about these questions as much as we should. In fact, we numb them with entertainment and run away from them with busyness. But the questions remain nonetheless and our stories are written one choice at a time. And the question of whether a personal God exists or not deeply effects all of them. Living well requires thinking well about ultimate questions. It was Socrates who famously said that the unexamined life is not worth living.
When was the last time you reflected on your answers to these questions?
– The Good Life: Seeking Purpose, Meaning, and Truth in Your Life by Chuck Colson with Harold Fickett
– Hidden Worldviews: Eight Cultural Stories That Shape Our Lives by Steve Wilkens and Mark L. Sanford
– See more at:

Stop and Think

Books to Help You Reflect on Ultimate Worldview Questions