the true meaning of life found only in Jesus and the gospel (and yes, even in the church)

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”

There’s an interesting article in which it’s stated that 4 out of every 10 Americans sense no purpose or meaning to life. Given the words in Ecclesiastes I am not surprised at all (see that entire book, one of my favorites if I can say that about a biblical book, unique in the wisdom genre). And that reflects my own experience. I’ve had years in the past and moments in the present when I seriously think, “What’s the point?” Of course if we settle for very little (as C. S. Lewis said) so that if we can just get a few kicks along the way, we are set and good to go, then we are settling for something far less which in the end and often (in a sense always) even on the way to the end will leave us high and dry.

Only in the gospel, the good news of God in King Jesus and God’s grace and kingdom come in him is the true meaning of life found, and no where else. In fact that even gives scripture its true meaning. Scripture as God’s written word is the story of God fulfilled in Jesus, finding its true meaning in King Jesus and God’s grace and kingdom come in him. Read all of it and don’t skip the oftentimes troubling and monotonous part on Israel which is one key to understanding the whole. God’s coming in Jesus in the his incarnation, life and teaching, death and resurrection, ascension and outpouring of the Spirit and the promise to return and “set the world to rights” and make all things new.

We enter into the kingdom by simple faith, the faith of a child, accepting God at his word. And we become disciples, learners as in apprentices in following Jesus in the fellowship of the church in mission to the world. We follow the way of Jesus but we do that together as his body the church, in word and sacrament, by the power of the Spirit being God’s witnesses to the world. The “Jesus Creed” of loving God and our neighbor being the heartbeat of all we do.

This and this alone gives life its real and true meaning and nothing else at all, as good as the other things can be. Everything good has its place, but can find its only proper place in relation to this. This is the true hope of the world and the end of the story. A fullness to which there is no end.

living in a broken world

I accept evolution, while accepting the Genesis account at the same time. I believe death was in the original creation, for example a literal Adam and Eve had to eat vegetation, which meant the vegetation had to die. Humanity’s sin resulted in the certain death which stalks and overtakes us all, and is in the end destroyed in and through Christ. I believe the story in Genesis is an account of God’s ultimate intention in creation to be fulfilled only in Christ, and not an idyllic past. Adam and Eve needed to partake of the tree of life in order to live forever, so they are not created immortal in the story, I take it. And so the teaching of a fall is accurate in that humankind disobeyed God and is therefore subject to the pain that Adam and Eve end up being subject to in the story.

We live in a broken world. Time and time again that world confronts us, a wonderful world, and yet destined to come to an end, except for the Creator’s promise of a new creation in the redemption of this very same world in and through Jesus.

And I need to accept the problems that hit us which may not hit others, because that can make me a player in seeking to resolve those problems. “Out of sight, out of mind.” We all have our set of issues and concerns that are in our face, our problems as it were, along with the ideals in Jesus (for us as followers of Jesus) we want to live by. We need to ask God if we are present and so pressed “for such a time as this,” be it in supposedly small ways. And then in and out of prayer, act accordingly.

I tend to want to escape, or wish upon wish that I had avoided any such problem which I see as threatening to others, as well as to myself. Instead I need to accept where I am for whatever reason, including the possibility that I may be reaping something of what I have sowed, or failing to reap what I haven’t sowed in the past. Because of prayerlessness, or any other sin. And yet God is at work for good in all things for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. And that purpose is to be conformed to the image and likeness of Jesus, which involves a life that is not for ourselves, but for others. In the way of Jesus.

And so with these words, I look to the Lord and his strength. I seek his face, I hope more continually. As I go on with others in Jesus together for the world.

the sense of calling

Sometime back someone asked me why I blog. But I’ll add to that, why I go to work day after day, why I attend church gathering on Sunday, why I go to the nursing home on Sunday afternoons, why I try to be a faithful husband, father, and grandfather, why I seek to follow Jesus in all of life with others in Jesus.

I hope it is because of the sense of a calling from God. Our Pastor Jack was mentioning the importance of calling at the beginning of his message yesterday. The sense of being called and having a calling from God should drive our entire existence. Of course part of that calling is to rest, and even do some things out of sheer fun and enjoyment. But much of what we do we have to do, there is a sense of responsibility, indeed a sense of being called by God to do so.

To provide for my family, to be present for them and for friends, to be a witness to the world of the good news of King Jesus, this should all be a part of fulfilling our calling from God.

A calling is in the older understanding a vocation, or what one does to make a living, or provide for one’s family. Extended to that understanding is the idea of using one’s gifts from God in a responsible manner as a steward, out of love for God and for one’s neighbor.

Calling in scripture also extends to one’s salvation in and through Jesus. It is a call into blessing both to one’s self, and in scripture usually to one’s entire family, and to the blessing of others. We are blessed to be a blessing as part of the called in Jesus.

This is what keeps me going and doing what I do. Whether it’s blogging, or whatever else. I can think of blogging right now, because that is precisely what I’m doing. I’ll be doing a good number of things today all either a part of, or related to my calling.

Without that sense of coherence in a calling which brings all of life in the world under the lordship of King Jesus, meaning can be up for grabs. There will be a sense that all is meaningless under the sun, since it all comes and goes without any underlying purpose. Although the sense of calling seems built in us humans as part of our being made in the image of God. Indeed part and parcel of that calling in the beginning was to be rulers and priests of God to and for the world of creation. In Jesus that call awaits fulfillment when the children of God are revealed in a resurrection in which all of creation will share in the new creation through Jesus. But what we do now can anticipate and somehow be taken up into that change which is to come. Even as we seek to point human beings back to God’s story and how this story will at long at last be fulfilled in and through Jesus.

And so I go on, seeking to fulfill my calling from God for today. And wanting to grow in my understanding of that calling, together with others in Jesus for the world.