A Key to a Meaningless Life

Some time ago, a couple came to the local churches asking for financial help. When the pastor asked, “Where do you attend church?” the answer was, “We don’t.” They are professing Christians, but they don’t go to church anywhere. This is common.

I was thinking about why folks who call themselves Christians don’t regularly fellowship with other Christians, and while I know there are a variety of reasons, I think one reason is because they have been injured in the past. Sometimes avoidance of church is symptomatic of aversion to social interaction in general.

However, God created us as social people. The phrase, “It is not good for man to be alone” does not only reveal the origin of marriage, but verbalizes our need to interact with others. This interaction is essential if our lives are to have real meaning.

Paul Borthwick stated this well just over two decades ago.

It is possible to evade a multitude of sorrows through the cultivation of an insignificant life. Indeed, if a man’s ambition is to avoid the troubles of life, the recipe is simple: shed your ambitions in every direction, cut the wings of every soaring purpose, and seek a life with the fewest contacts and relations. If you want to get through the world with the smallest trouble, you must reduce yourself to the smallest compass. Tiny souls can dodge through life; bigger souls are blocked on every side. As soon as a man begins to enlarge his life, his resistances are multiplied. Let a man remove his petty selfish purposes and enthrone Christ, and his sufferings will be increased on every side. (Paul Borthwick, Leading the Way, Navpress, 1989, p. 86)

Borthwick says a mouthful in those few words. He speaks of being significant. He encourages sanctified ambitions. He addresses the purpose-driven life.

To me, he’s saying: Brave the pain, risk the injuries, and dream big for the sake of being significant in the eyes of Christ.

How do I find meaning in life?

In his book, Kingdom Triangle, J. P. Moreland says this:

The current addiction to the cult of celebrity and professional sports, along with our preoccupation with happiness, tells us something about our true nature and the bankruptcy of our culture.

There is no debating the reality that people are hungry today. No one knows that better than those who are selling things that cannot fill your heart. Whether they are selling beauty, sex, dreams, talent, sports, or success — they are capitalizing on a reality that people today are starving. And there is no question in my mind that the very things provided to fill this hunger fail miserably.

People are like a hummingbird feeding at a feeder that is filled with artificial sweetener. They think they will get nutrients. But as they gorge themselves on emptiness, they starve themselves to death. That’s exactly what is happening to human beings, spiritually and emotionally speaking. We fill ourselves with spiritual substitutes and then we wonder why our souls cry out.

Psychologist Philip Cushman writes:

…the empty life is filled up with consumer goods, calories, experiences, politicians, romantic partners, and empathetic therapists….

[The emptyself] experiences a significant absence of community, tradition, and shared meaning… a lack of personal conviction and worth, and it embodies the absences as a chronic, undifferentiated emotional hunger.

No wonder we cry out for meaning.

This podcast helps you to discover real meaning and to live life on purpose.

John Piper and Rick Warren…

People have opinions. Not necessarily well-reasoned or, in this case, well-informed opinions. I saw it this past week at General Council.

I presented this question, “What do you think about Mark Driscoll?” to a number of people, including my own peers, students, denominational leaders, and seminary professors. Respondents fell into one of three groups:

  1. They loved him.
  2. They didn’t like him (’cause Alliance folk don’t hate).
  3. They didn’t know him.

What stood out to me (Laurel mentioned it first) was that each of those who didn’t like him gave the same answer, using the same words and phrases, as though they had read it from the same source. Probably the same blog.

It reminded me of something that happened a few years ago. I was with a group of pastors, many of whom were trashing The Purpose Driven Life. My friend, George, asked one of the more vocal men, “Have you read the book?” You know the answer, right?

Today, George pointed me to an interview of Rick Warren, conducted by one of the most well-respected, theologically precise pastors of our day, John Piper. In this excellent interview, Piper begins with these words:

Frankly, I’m appalled at the kinds of slanders that have been brought against this book by people whose methods of critique, if they were consistently applied to the Bible, would undo it as the Word of God. ….I am one of these Reformed types and my type tends to get on your case pretty often, and when I read the book I thought, “What’s the issue here?”

The Piper / Warren Interview is here.

Take a listen. Or better yet, read the book for yourself. You can read the first few chapters here.