Essay / Culture

Setting Goals for the New Year

It’s the time of year when we set New Year’s resolutions. However, before you do, I offer you something to ponder. Suppose I invited you over to play a game of Monopoly. When you arrive I announce that the game is going to be a bit different. Before us is the Monopoly board, a set of jacks, a coin, the television remote and a refrigerator. I grant you the first turn, and puzzlingly, inform you that you may do anything you want: fill the board with hotels, toss the coin in the air, grab a few jacks, fix a sandwich, or turn on the television. You respond by putting hotels all over the board and smugly sit back as I take my turn. I respond by dumping the board upside down and tossing the coin in the air. Somewhat annoyed, you right the board and replenish it with hotels. I turn on the television and dump the board over again.

Now it wouldn’t take to many cycles to recognize that it didn’t matter what you did with your turn, and here’s why. There is no goal, no purpose to the “game” we are playing. Our successive turns form a series of one meaningless event after another. Why? Because if the game as a whole has no purpose, the individual moves within the game are pointless. Conversely, it is only in light of a game’s actual purpose according to its inventor that the individual moves within the game take on significance.

Two things follow from our little thought experiment: (1) If we are playing “Monopoly,” yet there is no purpose to the game, then it doesn’t matter what we do with our turns. (2) If the game was actually invented by someone who established its purpose, it is crucial that players know what that purpose is. If there is no God, life is like the Monopoly game. If God is real and has a reason for why he made you, it’s important to find that out. Wouldn’t it be great if God had left us an owner’s manual for the game of life? Who knows. Maybe He did just that.

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