What is the Meaning of Life
Dissatisfaction with our Lives
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What is the Meaning of Life? Program 71 Why are we Anxious? by Ernest O’Neill
If someone came up to you and asked, “What is the meaning of this present life that you’re involved in? I mean, why are you here? What’s the purpose in being on this earth? Why were you brought into existence in the first place?” How would you answer? That’s the question that we have been talking about for several months now on this program at this time each day.
You’ll remember that we came to the conclusion that the only one who could answer that question for us in an authoritative way, “What is the meaning of life?” or “Why are we here?” is someone who has not been here — someone who has been elsewhere, someone who has been in other places besides the world itself.
In other words, it is very hard for a goldfish that is swimming inside the goldfish bowl to explain to all the other goldfish why the bowl was created or why they ever came into existence. All the other fish tend to say, “You’re a human being like me. You’re a fish like me. What do you know?”
That’s what we tend to say to Zoroaster, or to Buddha, or to Muhammad or to Isaiah, or to any of the great prophets or the great religious leaders. We tend to say, “Listen, you men died the same as we’re going to die. You were buried on this earth and you never left it. What do you know about what’s beyond the sky or what’s beyond this world?”
So most of us feel that the only one who can tell us anything about the meaning of the world or can bring us the answer to any of these magnificent cosmic questions that we put to each other from when we are about five years old, is someone who has been off the earth and someone who has been beyond space. In other words, we need some visitor from outer space.
There is only one such person. That is the remarkable human being that has proven to all kinds of historians and critics and scholars that he actually broke through the death barrier and was able to leave the earth, to come back again and live here for more than a month and then to disappear and to go to what he said was the friendship and the presence of his own Father who was the Creator of the world. That’s that man known as Jesus of Nazareth.
I ask you not to go to sleep and not to turn off and not to think, “Oh, religion, religion, religion.” No, let’s look at this man. He is a remarkable human being. The historical records that we have for his life are far better than what we have for Julius Caesar, or for Plato, or for Thucydides, or any of the ancient people that lived hundreds of years ago.
The reasons for believing in his resurrection from the dead are more solid and sure than what we have for most of the ancient events in the history which we don’t ever dream of questioning. It’s that man and his explanations about the meaning of life that we are talking about in these days.
You’ll remember one of the things that he did say was, “Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh. And that’s all you are. You human beings, you’re born of the flesh and you’re flesh.” Sure, we certainly know that! We’re born of the flesh. We see it dying day by day as we notice the wrinkles increasing, as we notice the gray hairs increasing. We know as we watch friends drop into the graves we’re certainly born of the flesh. We are flesh.
He said flesh cannot ever inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. That is, flesh can never actually achieve heaven. Then, of course, he said that we wouldn’t believe that. He’s dead right, of course. We always feel, don’t we, that we were made for the stability and security of some heavenly existence that is freed from the instability and the uncertainty of this present economic world in which we live. We feel that!
That’s why, you know fine well, that’s why we try to parley our degrees and our educations up into better jobs, up into better salaries, up into more solid gold watches on retirement, up into better pension schemes, up into more stocks and shares. We are constantly trying to just get our head, as we say, “above the rest”.
We’re just trying to get a little “handle on life”. We’re just trying to get above the flood. What we mean by that is we think we were made for a security and a stability that is a mixture, as we mentioned before, of the peace of Walden Pond and the glorious excitement of the Arabian Nights.
We always are trying to get hold of that kind of security. We’re trying to get hold of a security that will give us a sense of the stability which we believe we were made for. Of course, what Jesus said was, “You were made for that stability. You’re right. You’re made for that security. There is only one place where you can get it. You cannot get it from all the things that you get hold of.”
It doesn’t matter how much money you get; you will always end up like Howard Hughes, a poor, old man with Kleenex tissues stuck to his fingers, dying on the top floor of a luxury hotel. You will always end up unable to grasp the absolute security that you think you were made for. Finally, you will have to admit that you cannot get security from the disease that kills you, that you cannot actually make yourself physically secure.
Finally, it’s going to get you. Jesus said that there is only one kind of place that you will get that kind of security from. It doesn’t matter how well the Conservatives do, or how well the Republicans do. It doesn’t matter how well the Labor government does or how well the Democrats do.
They never will be able to provide you with enough pensions, enough retirement schemes, enough medical insurance to give you absolute security. Finally, you’ll die of some disease that they cannot protect you from. Finally, you cannot even guarantee that your money will be safe this time next year. Finally, everybody is at the mercy of whatever economic disasters might fall upon us.
Deep down, actually, you and I know that, don’t we? Deep down, it’s amazing, even people like Murdoch, it’s amazing, people who are millionaires, and are magnificently successful businessmen, always are driven by the desire for just something more. Someone once said to Rockefeller, “What do you want?” He said, “Just another million. Another million.”
You’ll never get enough millions to give you that sense of absolute, untouchable security that you feel you were made for. That’s interesting, isn’t it? That’s what Jesus says. He says, “You have a need that is bigger than can be satisfied by any number of possessions or things that you might get hold of in this present world. You have an appetite for security that is bigger than what the world is able to fill.”
He went on to say, of course, that really the appetite for security that you have was put there by the Maker that created you. There is only one place where you can get that kind of security satisfied. That is from a consciousness that your Maker not only knows you, not only planned your existence very carefully, but actually provides for your needs and is concerned about your needs and is interested in what you need and is interested in your security and is concerned that you do feel secure.
That’s what Jesus said. You know the needs you have for security and the frustration and futility that you feel in trying to get it from things in this present world is because the need is so great that it can only be satisfied by the assurance of some person’s love for you. That person has to be one with infinite powers and abilities to fulfill His desires for you.
So Jesus said, “Stop looking to the wrong thing for your need for security. Start looking to the right Person.” Let’s talk a little more tomorrow about what He explained to us about this dear person.