Description: Security, significance continued - How to be born again
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
How Can a Person be Born Again #1
by Ernest O’Neill
Many of us today have great difficulty finding out who we are. I know that sounds strange and a little insane,
but I think it’s true. Many of us today have great trouble getting in touch with ourselves or finding
ourselves. We seem to have become the sum total of the reflexes and responses that are necessary to the myriad
peers and superiors and authority figures that we have to deal with. And so often we respond to these
employers or bosses or fellow students or husbands or wives or children in ways that have become stereotyped
and are not really an expression of what we ourselves are.
But we have done this so long now that we no longer even know what we would do if we had the freedom to do it.
And so we find ourselves having lived through 1984 but feeling that in a strange way we are living in Orwell’s
“1984”. That is, we are not so much programmed by the big brother of government as by the big brother of all
the obligations we have in this life. And so when we come to decide where we want to go on holiday or what we
want to do for a vocation we have great trouble deciding. And we usually resort to what are now the crutches
of this lame humanity — the aptitude tests or the multiphasic tests that are supposed to show us what we
would be good at.
Again, we feel that it’s just what we would be good at. We don’t really have any confidence that it’s really
ourselves what we should do and want to do. In fact many of us see no hope of doing what we really want to do
and so we gave that up years ago and have become people who have no inside at all –people that are described
by T.S. Elliot in “The Hollow Men”, you remember, “We are the hollow men, headpiece stuffed with straw,” as if
we have no individuality at all inside.
And many of us know that and are frustrated by it and yet don’t see how to come alive inside again. We try
from time to time to do something that is uniquely us, but usually it comes off with an extreme
over-correction that makes a caricature of what we really are. That’s what we’ve been talking about. The
problem that many of us have of the inner space inside where our spirit used to be. Because that’s what your
spirit is — it’s the real you. It’s you as you really are. It’s the unique person that is you.
And what we have been saying over this past year on this program is that we — most of us — have become
caricatures of what we were meant to be and caricatures of what we really were. We did not develop into the
individuals that we were made to be. And we’ve been sharing, you remember, how it is obvious that the order
and design of the universe necessitates the premise of an intelligent personal mind behind it all. And you
remember we went through the examination of the historical records of the lives of different people who claim
to be able to tell us what that Creator was and we concluded that the only One that was at all believable was
the man Jesus of Nazareth.
And of course, He explained to us that His Father, the Creator, had made us so that we would have a
relationship of love and trust in Him. That’s why He made us. And so He made us unique. He made us
individuals. But most of us do not depend, of course, on that kind of invisible being at all. We have begun to
depend utterly on the world itself for what we need. And we’ve tried to get from the world the food, shelter
and clothing that will provide us with the security that we sense we need and we’ve tried to get from things
therefore the sense of material safety that we need, the sense that we can continue to exist in this world.
And we’ve looked to people and tried to look at the people in the world and get them to provide us with the
self-esteem and the self-worth that we need. And then of course, we’ve looked at circumstances and we’ve tried
to manipulate them to create the sense of happiness, the sense of peace and exhilaration that we need. And we
now find that we have really in a way given our souls away as “sordid boon”– that’s the way Wordsworth puts
it, you remember, in his sonnet, “The World is too much with Us.” “Late and soon, getting and spending, we lay
waste our days. Little we see in nature that is ours. We have given our souls away a sordid boon.”
And most of us find that. We’ve either sold our souls to the company store or we have somehow given away the
one thing that was vital in us, the one thing that was individual and unique. We have become slaves to the
world of people and things and circumstances for the security and the significance and happiness that we can
squeeze out of them. But in the process we have become a robot. And we sense that, and we don’t know how to
get out of it and we don’t really know how to come alive inside.
And what we have been sharing the past few days is that there is only One Being that is actually interested in
us becoming alive inside and becoming individuals again, and that is the One who made us, the Creator. He’s
really the only one. Because it was His plan in the first place to make you the only version of you that
exists in the whole universe, and that will ever exist, and that has ever existed. And it’s His own interest
that you will develop as an individual. He wants you to come to Him as an individual, as your own person who
will love Him freely and will enjoy Him and whom He can enjoy.
And so He has a great interest in you becoming yourself, the real you deep down. Because of course most of us
think that becoming ourselves means just wanting what we want, but in fact even that has been programmed into
us and becoming ourselves is something different from that. There is a spirit of you that was created by the
Creator at the beginning of the world and that is what you are meant to be. And only He can bring that about.
No one else has a vested interest in that. They’re all trying to get you to serve them and they need you as a
pliable, submissive non-willed person.
That’s what most of the businesses need. “We will give you the right to a little initiative but we don’t want
you to take too much. And we’re certainly not too interested in who you are yourself.” But the Creator Himself
is. How on earth, or how in heaven, do you come alive again? Well, the first step that Jesus said you have to
take is to believe. Start believing these things — that’s the first step. Stop believing that you’re part of
a mindless evolutionary process. Stop believing that.
Believe in evolution if you want, but see that there has to be some mind behind evolution that gives it
direction. Otherwise it would result in the way that all big bangs or all mindless things result in: chaos and
anarchy. So first of all believe that there is a Creator — that there is Someone behind the sky, there’s
Someone beyond the stars that has created all this. And then believe that this man Jesus is His Son.
And by all means you should examine the manuscript evidence. You should begin to look at the Bible — not as
an old religious book, not as a book of fairy tales or superstitions –but begin to read, particularly the
last part of it, the New Testament part. Begin to read Matthew or Mark or Luke or John — some of those books
that give the history of this man Jesus. And just read about his life and examine it, and see; is this man
insane, is he imbalanced, is he a dupe, or is he a con man, or is he really the Son of the Maker of the
Examine the evidence for His resurrection from the dead. Read books like “Runaway World” by Michael Green.
Read books like “Are the New Testament Documents Reliable?” by F.F. Bruce. Read books like that that discuss
these things in an intelligent way. And begin to believe that this man Jesus really did exist, that he
therefore does exist now — because if he can overcome death once he can overcome it as often as he wants. And
then believe what he said: that you are unique, that your Maker knows you, that He has numbered even the
hairs of your head.
And He knows you, and He knows every thought that goes through your head, and He has a personal interest in
you coming alive and becoming a real person again. First of all believe those things. The second step is of
course to change your mind about the way you’re living at present — to stop living that way and to start
living as if the Creator of the world is in existence. So let’s talk a little more about that second step