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What is the Meaning of Life

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Lesson 147 of 208
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We are Made in God’s Likeness

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WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? Program 147 We are Made in God’s Likeness by Ernest O’Neill

What is the meaning of life? That’s the subject we’ve been discussing here on this program at this time each day for several months now. What we have said is that the meaning of life, in your opinion or mine, is governed a great deal by what we believe was the origin of the world. If we believe the origin of the world is the result of time plus chance, or of an impersonal evolutionary process, then we will tend to see the meaning of life in terms of just what we can get from this world itself.

We will have a tendency to regard this world as the only source of the fulfillment of whatever needs we might have. So, most of us have a great need for security, for financial security, and we’ll tend to see the world as the only possible source of the provision of those needs for security. We will have the same tendency with our need for self-worth or self-esteem. We will tend to see the world of people as the only source of any possible self-recognition, or approval, or self-esteem.

It is the same with happiness. We will have a tendency to see happiness as something that we can only get from favorable circumstances or events that occur in this world. In other words, we will have a tendency to look to the world of people and things and circumstances for the security and significance and happiness that we feel we need.

Whereas, the meaning of life will be seen on a very different level if we believe that, though there may well be some sort of an evolutionary process at work, yet it is directed by an intelligent mind. There is, as Einstein said, an intelligent being behind the universe. Then we will have a tendency to see the fulfillment of our needs as coming from some kind of a relationship with that intelligent being.

We will see that we are the highest peak of creation and He undoubtedly is much more valuable and real than the things He has made. So, we will have a tendency to see the fulfillment of our needs in terms of a relationship with that Supreme Being, rather than in terms of a relationship with the people and the things and the circumstances of the world itself.

That’s as far as we have got in our discussion. We have pointed out, of course, that most of us have actually seen the meaning of life in terms of the world and the possibilities of the world of people and circumstances and things fulfilling our needs for security and significance and happiness. Most of us have become, in that way, rather perverted beings. We have a tendency to go to the office each day and look to see if the boss is smiling. If he is smiling, then we feel happy. If he favors us with some kind of stroke or some kind of praise, then we suddenly feel that we’re worth something.

If, of course, he chooses to give us a bonus that is unexpected, then we will feel suddenly very much more secure. So, most of us at the moment live our lives in terms of this world and what the people and the circumstances and the things in this world can provide for us. Of course, there is no need to point out that most of us are very dissatisfied with that means of fulfilling these very real needs.

We find, for instance, that nobody can ever praise us enough. It doesn’t matter how great our mother and father are. It doesn’t matter how approving our professor or our teacher or our boss is. It doesn’t matter how appreciative our husband or our wife or our children are, somehow we never get enough self-esteem. Indeed, after a life of such praise and acknowledgment, many of us still have dreadful inferiority complexes and a great lack of self-esteem and self-worth.

It’s the same with security. Many of us have slaved and slaved for years to try to make our job or our tenure secure, and at the end of it all we still feel very insecure. It doesn’t matter how much we have accumulated in the bank, or how many stocks and shares we have, we still feel very insecure. We still feel that an incurable disease could “take us off” at any moment. It’s the same with happiness. It doesn’t matter how many visits to Spain or to America or to Europe that we have in a year, somehow, we never get enough happiness.

Some of us have gone to incredible extremes to try to get a high that will really satisfy us. Yet, we find that at the end of all our trying, this world of circumstances, people and things never seems to satisfy the needs we have for security, significance and happiness. Those three needs are fulfilled in real love. That is really what we need. We need real love. But, somehow, we are never able to get enough of that love. We can never get enough of it from people, or things, or circumstances, to satisfy us. That’s the problem that most of us find ourselves in. Now, the truth is that there is a whole other side of your personality that you probably have never been aware of. There is a whole purpose that the Creator, who made you, had in mind that you have never even, perhaps, begun to fulfill and have never even had a suspicion of. Of course, the fact is that the Creator of the universe has put you here to become like Him. That’s it!

He has given you a free will and then He has given you freedom to choose to depend on Him or to depend on the world of people and circumstances and things. You have that choice. If you depend on Him for the needs that you have, then you will come into a closer and closer and more intimate relationship with Him, and there will be part of your personality that will come alive from the inside that you never knew you had before. You will begin to find the real needs of your life being met as you lose yourself more and more in the purpose that the Maker has for you.

But that, of course, is a whole different story, and that is the story we would like to start today. What is the meaning of life and what is this side of our lives that many of us have never had any experience of? It starts with the explanation that this man Jesus gives. He pushed us back, you remember, to words that most of us remember from the early parts of the Old Testament.

Most of us will remember a certain verse that was read, perhaps when we were at school in Morning Prayer or in the service at the beginning of each day in assembly. It was a verse that went like this, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” The meaning of that, of course, is that in the times before creation, in timeless eternity …

…(because that is what eternity is. It’s not endless time, it’s timelessness. It’s the realm that Einstein has talked about in his theory of relativity. It’s the area that even our greatest scientists begin to delve in when they talk about the immense space of the universe and the fact that time does not exist)…

….in timeless eternity, before creation, God turned around to His Son, who of course was alive with Him in those years, if you can call them years, and He said, “Let us make man in our image …” That is the beginning of understanding of what the meaning of life is. The Creator has made you in His own image. He did that, because He wants to enjoy your friendship.

You know how you can only go so far in friendship with your Yorkshire terrier. He’s OK with playing with a ball, but he’s not great at appreciating Beethoven’s Fifth. He’s OK with running back and forward across the room with you tickling his tummy, but he’s not great on discussing the Theory of Relativity or simultaneous equations.

In other words, to really enjoy someone’s friendship, you have to be made like him. You have to share the same kind of capabilities. First of all, God made us like Himself with His capabilities so that we could enjoy His friendship. Let’s go a little further with this tomorrow.

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