Wednesday, November 25, 2020

What if you could discover the true meaning of life?

All photos used courtesy of Unsplash

I want to ask you today the same question that the James (one of the writers of the New Testament in the Bible) asked nearly 2000 years ago - "What is your life?". What's it all about? Songs have been written about it; films have been produced about it.  For many, there is no greater question to be answered and yet most people believe that they probably will never ever find the true answer.

Common answers often are these: “the meaning of my life is to find happiness, to find fulfilment or flourishing.” Some say, 'Well, I want to fall in love, and I want that love to last a lifetime.’ Some feel that compassion is the reason why they live, and some folk go to no mean feats to express human compassion to others who are in need across the world. Others feel they are here just for pleasure; other people think it is to reproduce, to have a family. Some believe it is power; some intellectual folk think that it is  knowledge, and that enhances life through understanding or wisdom.

Then, of course, there is always the religious contingent. They feel that it is to be blessed in some spiritual sense, that is the meaning of life: to achieve union with God, or the Divine, whoever that may be. Then there is a group of people and for them there just does not seem to be any meaning, to their life at least.

One of the most impacting Christian leaflets that I think has ever been produced, is a cartoon gospel leaflet, and it's called 'His One Mistake'. It goes from frame to frame in this man's life, and there is a picture on the front of the tract of him standing with a briefcase in his hand, his suit on, and he is going to work. This is how the tract goes - first, he always made it into the office on time. He kept up with the news. The doctors examined him twice a year. He knew a few jokes. He ate lots of fresh fruit. He played football on Sunday mornings. He slept at least eight hours every night. He never smoked. He never drank or lost his temper. He took healthy walks when he could in the clean air. He kept himself clean. He did his daily exercises. He was all set to live to be a hundred...the funeral will be held on Thursday. His one mistake: he forgot God. He lived as if the world was all, and now he is with those - the tract says - who say, 'The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved'.

Today are we making the same mistake as this man: his one mistake?  James actually tells us a similar story to the tract I have related. He described a businessman going into a town the next day to buy and sell, to trade and make a profit. He had so many plans: he was going to do well, he was going to expand his business, maybe take more people on, spread out into other towns and other villages - but the man's problem was, God was not in his plans! He had forgotten God.  

James not only asks the question, he gives the answer. ‘What is your life? 'It is even a vapour, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away'. A vapour – like boiling the kettle, the steam comes out: it ‘appears’ for a little time, then vanishes.’

Now what is James' point? First, he says life is seen, but there is an unseen realm. James says that life is like a vapour that ‘appears’ - and it would be all so easy to miss that word 'appears', because a vapour ‘appears’ but note that when a cloud of steam ceases to ‘appear’, it has not ceased to exist. There is something seen about our life, it ‘appears’, but then it vanishes away, but like steam, it has not ceased to exist, it has simply changed form: the steam is absorbed into the atmosphere, and the Bible tells us that our life goes on in another realm, an unseen realm.

Now whilst it might seem to us here in the physical domain that we are here today and gone tomorrow, that is not the end! The Bible tells us, as if giving us a glimpse through the window of eternity, that there is an unseen realm that is every bit as real, if not more real, than this seen realm. In fact, it tells us: 'The things that are seen are transient (temporary), but the things that are unseen are eternal (everlasting). So James, if you like, is saying to us: 'Your life is seen, make sure that you are not living only for the things that are seen'. There's a lesson!

Used by permission of Your542Day - Written by Peter Francis for Messages with Meaning 

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