What is the purpose of life and this created universe? Is it to live a happy life? To be successful and make money? Is it to raise a family and continue the species?
I guess I'm assuming you have a Christian perspective and believe God created the Heavens and Earth (and all in this Universe). That being said...
I think at one point in my life, I would say those potential answers I gave had weight. At least that's what is pushed on us by culture, the consensus from others what we decide the purpose is. I have a new take on our purpose for existing. Track with me.
God existed before this universe did, right? I believe He lacked nothing. Scripture says He never changes, so the Creation of us and everything else didn't add to God or fulfill any need He had. He was perfectly satisfied with what He experienced with Himself. I won't claim to hold Absolute Truth comprehension on all things. That being said and not knowing His reasons, God created Angels and the Heavenly Realm. Lucifer, the worship Leader, was probably His first creation. What Scriptures tell us, we can trust Lucifer challenged God's authority to rule and reign over what was created at the time. Maybe perhaps he saw how cool he was and got self-absorbed (pride). Whether angels have free will or not, I can't grasp, but tradition tells us the challenge was made. I don't know if that was of Lucifer's own accord or God's.
So the scene is set. To recap, we have God being His cool self, probably out of His creative nature, set up the Heavenly Realm with Angels and such, and a challenge for His throne by Lucifer, the super attractive, worshiper angel.
How does God choose to settle the conflict?
And God said, "Let there be light..." Enter Big Bang, the formation of this Universe, the Earth, plants, animals and His crown accomplishment, His Image-Bearing Masterpiece, Mankind.
Who knows what Ephesians 3:10 says? Well, let me tell you.
"The manifold wisdom of God might now be made know through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places."
Does the Church seem like a likely means for God's wisdom to be displayed? We have dwindling numbers, and it seems like the only thing offered these days at a Sunday service is a feel good, self-esteem boosting, guilt-satisfying session of "Quality of Life" enhancement.
Life's purpose is not to improve our quality of Life. If it were, God would not kill children by means of cancer. Think about this. What if it isn't supposed to be about us? This fits what's taught in Scripture. Jesus never taught, "Make sure you take care of yourself, get yourself established, then help others." In fact, Jesus emphasized we need to die to self (consider whatever is of selfish benefit to yourself a poison), saying things like we'll gain our lives when we lose them.
"Okay, so what? What's your point?" is what you might be thinking. My point is I've never been more excited about my faith than when I started to grasp these concepts.
God is HUGE. The meaning of Life, the means to survive this madness of existence I am finding in the Majesty and Sovereignty of God. I don't have to beat myself up anymore about how sinful I am because it isn't about me. On top up that, it is precisely because I'm so depraved and pathetic that Ephesians 3:10 comes to life to me. If such a screwed-up group of creatures like human believers is what God chooses to show His Wisdom and Authority, as He works in us, transforming us, He MUST have a pretty cool plan for us. God is going to prove to Lucifer (or Satan) just how much more qualified He is to reign, even with the biggest handicap one could have... US!
I have heard the response to all this, "Well, does that mean we are just some big chess game and whether we die or not is of no consequence? That's a messed up view of God." I started to feel that way when all this started to be revealed to me, but then I realized I was losing focus again, thinking it was about me, and not God. Here is how I reconciled the "screwed-up"ness of it all. Did God have to create us to cast judgment of Lucifer and settle the whole thing, or could He have just spoke the word and Satan vanquished? He chose to include us in knowing of Him, to enjoy all the splendor that is Him. What about those going to Hell? Let me answer with what the definition of sovereignty is. "Supreme power especially over a body politic; freedom from external control" (Merriam-Webster.com, 2a-b). Are we to tell God what to do? He answers to no one. We cannot externally control Him with our judgements of what's right and wrong. Our concepts of right and wrong originated from Him and were skewed by our Fall from Grace. If He chooses to hate some, and love others to show just how much He loves them, who are we to judge Him? I see but one rational choice. Not to be angry with God, thus making a relationship with the one that offers salvation to those who believe more difficult. No, my choice is to begin to try and grasp all He is, trusting His word is true that all who believe in the name of Jesus will be saved, and as I focus on Him, and not myself, I'll see God continue to move on this Earth, revealing his Beauty and Love, grateful He chose to reveal Himself to me through the Church, humble He might use my words in this blog to reveal to its readers they too are chosen and accepted by Him... only needing to believe. The sacrifice and suffering He calls us to seems worth it when my eyes are fixed on his splendor.
"But being full of the Holy Spirit, he [Stephen] gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, 'Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.' But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him... They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!' Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them!' Having said this, he fell asleep."