“’Everything is meaningless,’ says the Teacher, ‘completely meaningless!’” (Ecclesiastes 1:2 NLT)
Solomon, purported to have been the wisest man who ever lived besides Jesus, was essentially a spoiled son of king David who delved into every conceivable avenue of life to find meaning, but found none. He concluded in Ecclesiastes 12:13: “Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey His commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.”
John Stonestreet of the Colson Center wrote: “We are in a culture-wide crisis of meaning. More than 1 in 3 American teenagers, for example, say they feel ‘persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness,’ an increase of 40% since just 2009. Our dominant philosophies tell us that each person is responsible for creating his or her own meaning out of an otherwise meaningless life. In essence, philosophy classes around the world are taking a page out of wikiHow’s playbook… and it’s not working. Because we are more than a series of self-edits. As the intentional handiwork of a Creator, we have a foundation to discover the meaning our culture has lost.”
How would you define “meaning?” Have you discovered meaning in your life? To me meaning and value are inextricably interwoven. To have one is to have the other, and they’re both found in a positive and fruitful walk with Jesus. I believe that’s why America and much of our world is drowning in an ocean of meaninglessness.
It starts small, or so we think. We skip our devotional time; then a small group meeting; then a worship service. It’s a few days at first, then a month, until we can’t remember the last time we sensed God’s presence. What’s happening? We’re losing the anchor of our soul, the meaning of our existence, the purpose of our being.
Having meaning gives us value as a person, a sense of self-worth, a sense of purpose or validation for our taking up space on the planet. Whether we realize it or not, Jesus is the One who gives us all of those things.
Jesus said to His disciples and, by extension, to us: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.” There are those who will scoff at these words as “religious jargon,” but to me they’re words of life. I know Jesus’ words are true because I understand that He is Truth incarnate. He’s God in human form and, as such, is incapable of speaking anything but that which is true.
We now have generations of people, not only in America, but across the world who haven’t found meaning for their lives because they’re looking in all the wrong places. Solomon wasn’t only smart, he was rich. He was also a king, which meant he had access to anything and everything money could buy. Yet, at the conclusion of his rampage of wildness, he concluded the only place to find meaning, purpose, and wisdom is in submission to the authority and purpose of Jesus.
Most people who are lost today, thus whose lives have no meaning, didn’t lose anything – you can’t lose what you never had. And yes, of course, there are those who swear they find meaning in their work, whether that’s medicine, sports, law enforcement, social work, or some other “serving” vocation, and I don’t question that that’s true. But to me, meaning is something you can’t outlive. It’s something that gives you purpose, validation, meaning, and value not only in this life, but the next. And the only One who can accomplish that in anyone’s life is Jesus. If you’re missing Him, you’re missing everything,
Food for thought.
Blessings, Ed 😊