Friday, August 10, 2007

The meaning of life revealed

It seems that humanity as a whole believes there is this grand mystery out there called "the meaning of life." What is it? What is that one thing that can bring meaning to everything we do? How many times do you know that you have to do something, but struggle to "get up for it", looking for the motivation? Human nature is such that we yearn for our actions to have meaning. Take the classic example of an actor. When trying to fully understand why his or her character would act in a particular manner during a scene, they may very well ask, "What is my motivation?" Why? Because to truly act as that character would act, they need to understand what meaning that character would ascribe to their actions.

The problem is that whatever motivates us in one circumstance will not motivate us in others. Whatever we think legitimizes one action and gives meaning to that action will not do the same in other circumstances. The result is that we spend our lives in a constant search for meaning. We are always looking for something new to make sense out of our existence. As we move from one activity to another we also move from one quest for meaning to another.

The perception that this search for meaning is impossibly hopeless has grown to such proportions that it is now almost considered to be an obvious joke. Look at Douglas Adams, author of the "Hitchikers' Guide to the Galaxy" series. In his book, "Life, the Universe and Everything", he creates a fictional computer that is designed to provide the answer to life, the universe and everything. After hundreds of years of waiting, this supercomputer pumps out the answer...42. The poor people are now even more befuddled than before, to which the computer replies that the answer is correct, but in order to understand it, they need to fully comprehend the question. In order to know the question, they would have to design an even more complex machine and wait thousands of years for the calculations. That machine was the planet Earth, which was unfortunately destroyed in order to make room for a new galactic superhighway shortly before it was to identify the long sought after result of its computations. The end result? The quest for meaning is still just as hopeless as it was when we began.

So in light of this seemingly insurmountable mountain, why do I claim to be able to reveal the true meaning of life? Well, the simple answer is, "Because I believe I have found it." So what is this one thing that can give meaning to everything we do? The answer is worship.

Too many of us unfortunately have a very limited view of what worship means. We think that "worship" refers to going to church on Sunday mornings, singing some hymns, listening to the pastor's sermon and saying a few prayers. If we are really broad-minded, we may even lump the prayers of thanksgiving we make at home and saying grace around the table into that category. But what we fail to realize is that our entire lives, every single thing we do, is meant to be an act of worship. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." This is how I am encouraging you to think of worship. Think of every single thing you do throughout the day as an offering to God. Thus, in everything you do, you are worshipping God.

The group Casting Crowns has a song called, "Lifesong" in which they sing:

Let my Lifesong sing to you.
I want to sign your name to the end of this day
Knowing that my heart was true
Let my Lifesong sing to you

Think for a moment about the Old Testament Psalms. These are essentially songs of worship that the Jews offered up to God. They may be praise Psalms or Psalms of thanksgiving. But whatever the topic, they were sent up to God as an act of worship. Casting Crowns are asking you to make your entire life a song, just like those Psalms, and offer it up to God in the same way. Imagine that everything you do each day is written down on a piece of parchment. At the end of the day, ask yourself if God would sign the bottom of that parchment saying, "This was my work."

You do not need to wander aimlessly about, searching hopelessly for meaning in each of your seemingly unconnected actions. What you need is one grand thing that will unify all the facets of your life, so they are not really separate at all. That's our problem. When looking for meaning, we are starting with the wrong assumption about the things we are trying to ascribe meaning to. You see, we want all the different aspects of our life to have meaning, and we think of them all in that way...different. We believe that our goal is to try to find one common thread in all these seemingly unrelated aspects of our existence. But in order to arrive at the one true answer, we need to redefine the question. The various threads of our lives are not meant to be unrelated. Our failure to recognize that is why we constantly fail in our search for meaning. All our actions are supposed to have this one unifying thread in common. They are supposed to be acts of worship offered up to God.

If you reject God, or try to push Him from your life, you will never find the answer to life, the universe and everything. Life as a unified whole only makes sense with God in the picture. Given this simple truth, it is hardly surprising that a world that is more and more trying to push God out of the public discourse and trying to "make it on our own" without Him is at the same time struggling more and more to make any sense out of our lives.

So if you want your life to have meaning, if you want to get out of the never ending circle of futility, give your life as an offering to God. When you go to work, do your job as if you are doing it for God. When dealing with your family and friends, do it as if you are doing it for God. When you interact with strangers, do it as if you are doing it for God. You will soon find that you have uncovered the true meaning of life. This is what we were created for, so ultimately it is the only thing that will bring lasting satisfaction. Just as a child longs for approval from its parent, we are designed with a longing for approval from our heavenly Father. Only when you understand this longing can you even begin to fathom the incredible ecstasy that comes when God signs His name to the end of your day and says, "Well done my good and faithful servant."

God bless you all.

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