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Posts Tagged ‘meaning’

In searching for meaning in life, it is necessary for humans to consider the limits of the time that we are given on this earth. It is a breath, a faint whisper in the vast eternity. This struggle is dealt with in scripture in a variety of places, but most poignantly in the poetic and wisdom literature. On the one hand, the Qoheleth of Ecclesiastes struggles with the vanities of striving and working for this life, only to have it end upon death. What is the meaning of all that we do if the fruits of our labor will go with us to the grave? Yet, on the other hand, there seems to be some sort of recognition in scripture that our deeds do matter because the consequences, both good and bad, are felt by subsequent generations (Ex. 20:5-6).

I don’t see a contradiction here. It is not wrong to consider both the ephemeral and the eternal nature of the human life. Human existence is frail; we may be enjoying existence one minute, only to be swept away in the next. But are we not built to be eternal beings? Do our souls not last beyond the grave? If you believe that, yes, we do indeed live beyond our present life, then is it too much of a leap to suggest that our present actions may have consequences that go beyond this present life? Perhaps both sides look upward into eternity, foreshadowing a life based on Christ and the cross. The temporary nature of our existence warns us from clinging to the things that will die, away from striving after things that belong to the earth. “Seeking after fame and honor?” God asks, “Sorry, those won’t last.” “Want to accumulate wealth for yourself? That’s fine, but know that it will not follow you to the grave.” Those things seem to bring to question our motives in life. But isn’t there virtue in a life well-lived? Of taking care of the poor and helping the oppressed? Of loving one’s neighbors and living out one’s station in faithfulness? Didn’t Jesus say that what we’ve done for the least, we’ve done unto him?

I honestly don’t fully know where I am in this matter. We always live under the tension of wondering if we seek what we look for for ourselves or if we are truly doing them for God. And maybe this tension is necessary. I would hate to become too complacent and deceive myself into thinking that I serve God while I’m serving my own interests. Maybe a little doubt and questioning of our motives are a necessary part of what it means to be a Christian.

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I’ve started picking up Moltmann’s The Crucified God again. I never did get far into it because of school and work. But now that I have time, I’m reading through it. He says some heavy stuff that I have yet to process (it’s definitely not light reading). In particular, he mentioned about the concept of losing one’s identity in order to find it (Mt 16:24). This made me think about how true that concept is to the Christian life…and to all life in general. It seems paradoxical. But when you think about giving so much of yourself to one thing, your time and your mind and your body, your life becomes a part of that movement. Your identity becomes wrapped up into that ideology, concept, cause, or whatever it may be. In essence, to give completely to something means that your life and your self is swallowed up into the thing which you work for.

It’s kind of scary to think, but people do this all the time, unknowingly, for many sorts of things and for many sorts of reasons. Some of these things may have worth. Some of it may be destructive. But all of it falls short of what God calls us to be. Why, then, do we take the cross so lightly, knowing that what we give ourselves for is so much greater than any other cause? Why do we falter short of having our identities placed on Christ’s death and resurrection when we would willingly become involved in other things that will not last? The truth is, we — or rather I — lack discipline and my self becomes more important than Christ… and it is by God’s grace that he brings me back to the cross. But in light of his grace, I struggle all the more to conform myself to his will and to the truth of his person.

As the Word gave his identity from eternality to come down as human, to be crucified and identified with the cross, so likewise we should pick up our cross to be “crucified” with him. Then, we will find our identity. Then, we get to take part in his glory. We get to be more than dust. Let us not forget that what we value very much shapes who we are.

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:1-11.

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