Is there any meaning to this life? Or, are we here by accident and therefore left only to suck out all the pleasures we can?
Let us begin with the statement made by Henry David Thoreau, "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." What did Thoreau mean? He believed most men lead hollow, inauthentic lives spent pursuing wealth or ambition or perhaps merely survival. Are things different now? The truth is they are not.
So, we will go to the Bible to better understand the choice we have been given. We can either lead lives of quiet desperation or live the life God created us capable of living.
The Bible is a beautiful tapestry woven by many threads, one being God's description of His plan for this life.
Jesus is the cornerstone upon which everything else is built, "And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?" Lk. 20:17. The cornerstone the Pharisees rejected is not just our savior. He is our Lord, "And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God." Jn. 20:28. Thomas called Jesus His Lord and God. For three years, Thomas walked with Jesus, witnessed the miracles, saw Him crucified, and now had seen Him resurrected. Thomas saw the wounds on the hands of the resurrected Jesus and then called Him Lord. Jesus uses this moment to reach across the centuries to give us a message, "Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."Jn. 20:29. Jesus is our Lord, our creator, and He knows the elements necessary for His family to joyfully live together for all eternity. When we abide in Him, He guides us to the joyful life we inwardly seek, the life we yearn for because He planted eternity in our hearts. CS Lewis expressed it this way, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” It is impossible to fill the space God has created in our hearts with anything less than Him, His love, and His Kingdom. Without God in our lives, we will try to fill that void with things, people, money, travel, social media, drugs, sex, rock'n'roll, etc., but eventually, they all disappear in the vastness of eternity, leaving us feeling alone, again, and desperately seeking something.
Jesus asks us to abide in Him, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me." Jn. 15:4, which leads us to live the fruit of the Spirit; "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." Gal. 5:22-23. The fruit of the Spirit quiets our souls by filling our hearts with God's love. God has invited us to eternity, and everyone there will live the fruit of the Spirit. So, if we refuse to abide in Him, we will not be fit for eternity and will have no one to blame but ourselves.
Jesus never changes, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." Heb. 13:8, when we follow Him, we are no longer driven by the winds of current circumstances and opinions. Life becomes settled and peaceful. Paul understood abiding, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Gal. 2:20. Paul felt Jesus living in him. Once we abide in Him, we feel Jesus living in us. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we begin transforming into citizens fit to live in His kingdom with His eternal family.
It is fascinating to witness our uniqueness, all created in His image, yet very different. When we love God, we become puzzle pieces fitting together perfectly to joyfully reflect His love in everything we do, shining His light to draw others to Him, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Cor. 10:31. Ultimately, together we form a body perfectly reflecting God and His love. This is the life we have been created to live, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." 2 Cor. 5:20. This is the life that brings us ever-increasing joy for all eternity. It is abiding that gives us the pleasure of doing His Will. This pleasure can be witnessed when we experience the excitement of a virtuoso playing their favorite piece. We see a God-given talent on display and share in their joy. God created each of us to be a virtuoso. We just have to be willing to accept His gift and nurture it until it blossoms. This is the truth I experienced in my grandmother's presence. She was a virtuoso at cooking and loving others; everyone shared her joy.
Abiding means we obey, and the difference between Christian obedience, which leads to joy, and any other kind, is that one is a choice born of love, and the other is a form of slavery. This is true because Christian love includes all forms of selfless love, and everything else called love demonstrates selfishness, depending on some form of repayment for the benevolence shown, which is nothing more than emotional blackmail that leads us into slavery.
Our choice is to abide or rebel. God has given each of us a part to play in building His kingdom, and He is calling us to His Word, which provides us with directions on completing our part, "Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go." Is. 48:17. Following Him means we love each other and support each other. Jesus told us we are either with Him or against Him, "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." Matt. 12:30. We will either abide and gather with Him; or rebel and scatter His children abroad. Everything else is a temporary illusion; those trying to suck out all the pleasures of life end up living in a fruitless state of quiet desperation.
We will either abide or rebel, which is the heart of the matter.
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