Description: We are dead inside, slaves to people, circumstances: need for new birth
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Being a Slave to Circumstances
by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? That’s the question that we’re discussing on this broadcast. And we have been
doing that for, I suppose about 190 broadcasts. And we’re trying to talk about it from a realistic viewpoint.
That is, from the basis of our own experiences, and on the basis of our own intellectual understanding of what
caused this earth to come into existence in the first place. And you who have followed the broadcasts through
from the beginning of the year, know that we concluded that the order and design in the universe indicated
that there must be an intelligent mind behind it.
And then, we followed through the kind of logic that guided Einstein when he said that his own religion
consisted of a great respect for the intelligent mind that was behind the universe and that produced all the
details of which we were just a little conscious. We concluded that there has to be a personable being behind
the universe in order to make us persons. Then, you remember, we studied history to see if there were any
indications that that person had communicated with us.
And of course we examined the ancient religions: Buddhism and Confucianism and Zoroastrianism and Hinduism and
the other religions that have claimed to tell us what the Maker of the world had in mind when He made us. And
we concluded they all suffered the same limitation. They had never been off the earth themselves, the great
leaders of these religions. They had never left the world and come back to tell us what was beyond the
furthest star. Indeed, only one had done that and that was the man that lived in the first century and is
known to us, of course, as Jesus of Nazareth.
We examined the documentary evidence and the manuscripts that are in the British Museum that lie behind the
history of his life and his death and his resurrection from the dead. And we concluded that it was the most
reliable history of that time that we possess. And that we would have to throw out Caesar, and Thucydides and
Lucretius and Plato and all the other ancient writers if we were going to throw out the history of his life
and his death and the most clearly established fact of ancient history: his resurrection from the dead.
And so we concluded that this man actually was the Son of the Maker of the world and what he said about the
meaning of life was the only authoritative opinion that really mattered. And we’ve been following through what
he has been explaining to us about our lives and you remember we’ve reached the point where we’ve found he has
explained to us that we have decided to depend, not on his Father who sent us here with a purpose in mind and
who has a special plan for each of our lives(and He has; He has an actual plan for your life) but we
determined not to depend on Him, but, in fact, to get what we wanted ourselves from, not Him, but from the
And so, we immediately experienced a great sense of insecurity when we separated ourselves from a kind of
inner dependence on Him. It’s very easy to experience that insecurity. You only have to look around yourself
and see the four billion of us that are thrashing around here trying to get our share of the food, shelter and
clothing in the world and it’s easy to realize that a person would feel insecure. And so, we have. And most of
us have spent our lives being driven by that insecurity.
That’s the reason why most of us go out to work in the morning. Not because we like work, not because we feel
it is the thing we were made to do — though a few of us do — but most of us go out to work because we need
the money. And we need the money to get the food to keep us alive so that we can keep our bodies warm with
nice clothing and then so we can have roofs over our head to keep the rain off us. And of course not only do
we find ourselves concerned with security, but we also realize that there are four billion people in the world
who think they’re just as unique as we know we are.
And yet, they have no time to notice us. So, we spend a lot of our time trying to establish our own
significance and our own self esteem and self worth in everybody else’s eyes. And so, whatever time we have
left over from trying to establish our financial and material security, we give to establishing our
significance in others’ eyes. So, we often don’t just buy a coat, but we buy a different kind of coat that
will really make us stand out in a crowd. We often don’t buy just a car, but we buy the best car we can
possibly afford so that other people will think we are really worth something.
And so, we find ourselves increasingly enslaved to meeting these needs of ours and increasingly enslaved to
just the world itself; to depending on things; to depending on people; to depending on happy circumstances to
make us happy until many of us have reached the point in our lives where it’s just all feeling very, very old.
Very old. And indeed, we’re feeling old. And we feel there’s something that is gone grey inside that used to
be full of green life and we wonder where it is.
And we at times think maybe we were different. Maybe, there was something we had to do here on earth that
nobody else could do but we’ve lost the ability to find anybody inside our heads or our hearts that knows
anything about that. We seem to have become just automatons. And we don’t know how to get life coming into us
again and we don’t really know how to find ourselves again. And that’s of course what this man, Jesus, said.
He said, “Look, you’ve died. You’ve died. You’re dead. Your spirit, the very essence of you, the thing that
makes you you has died.” And that’s your problem.
That’s the trouble. You appear to be alive because your physical body is alive and your mind works in some
fashion and your emotions and your will, but really the inside part of you, your spirit, has died. You,
yourself, are dead now and there’s no one who can make you alive here on earth. The only one who can make you
alive inside is the one who gave you that life in the first place, your Maker. And He is able to make you
alive again inside. You are able to be born all over again inside.
You’re able to come alive, that part of you that used to be, that part of you that Wordsworth talked about ï¿½
that you ï¿½came as a child trailing clouds of glory behind you.ï¿½ You came with some sense of the bright and
the clean; and some sense of what you should do here on earth. That part of you can come alive again. And it
doesn’t matter how old or how cynical or how skeptical you are. The Maker of the world is able to make you
And of course what we did, you remember a few days ago, was quote an old verse that was spoken about 2000
years ago, a few words that were spoken to a man called Ezekiel and you actually find it in the Bible. If you
have a Bible at home, you should maybe look it up. It’s Ezekiel, chapter 36 and verse 26. And it’s a statement
by the Maker of the universe to us. He says, “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within
you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
And many of us feel our hearts have become pretty hard and pretty stony. And this is a direct statement by the
Maker who made you that He is able to give you a new spirit. Now, if you say, “Ah, well, that might be — but
I’m not very religious.” Well, this isn’t religion we are talking about. It’s reality. This is what has
happened to you. You know it fine well. I know it fine well. And the Maker of the universe has said through
His Son — whom admittedly we have made into a kind of religious cult figure — He has said that He will do
this for you and He is able to do it.
And of course, we know He must be if He made us from the beginning out of nothing. And He is able to do it.
But the first step of course in your experiencing it, is to begin to believe that this man Jesus is His Son,
and that what He is explaining to us about our lives is true. And that’s the first step. And you could take
that today, just on the basis of the evidence. And if you want to find out more about Him, read that Bible.
Read Mark. It’s one of the books in the New Testament. Just read it and find out what this man said and the
kind of life He lived.