Description: We try to get love, significance and happiness from the world & men
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Why We Need Love and Significance
by Ernest O’Neill
One of the great arguments against the idea that there is a God which was shared with us at college, was that
it was the expression of man’s desire for a father figure. That’s all the belief in God really was. It was
just wishful thinking. Of course, this kind of comes round the back of you and has the appearance of a kind of
esoteric insight and an inside knowledge, and a reasoning below the usual level of thinking that people do.
So, it impresses you at first.
You think, “Yeah, maybe that is what the belief in God is. It’s just a sublimation of our desire for a father
figure.” Of course, if you come around from the other angle entirely, the fallacy of the whole argument is
exposed. Because, if there is, in fact, a God, and if, in fact, He is a father-like figure, and if, in fact,
we owe to Him all our existence — everything we have, and our ability to see and hear — and if, in fact, He
has made us so we can be His children, and so that we can be His friends, and so that we can enjoy His
company, and He can enjoy our company, then, it is very reasonable that we will have within us a sense that we
have a Father. We ought to depend on him, and we ought to love him. We will have a feeling of need for a
In other words, it’s a bit like coming to a child who wants to jump into his father’s arms and saying to him,
“No, don’t jump. Don’t jump. That’s just a sublimation of your desire for a father figure in your life.” The
little child wouldn’t have the sense to say it, but if he had, he would say, “You know why that is? That’s
because I have a father! I have a father, and I am his child. That’s why I feel the need for a father figure,
because I have a father who loves me and I’ve been made for him. I’ve come into existence so that I could
enjoy his friendship and so that he could enjoy mine. So, naturally, there’s a sense of need inside. So,
because the need is there, it’s evidence that there is an answer to that need.”
So, of course, you soon begin to see those old chestnuts we tried to feed ourselves with at University and at
school when we were younger, were just old chestnuts. They’re just old explanations of a cynical attitude we
want to take towards reality. It’s an expression, really, of our desire to be on our own. Of course, this is
what we’ve been sharing on this broadcast over the past weeks.
We do actually have an intelligent mind behind this universe. That’s the explanation of the order and design
we see in it. That intelligent mind expressed Himself in a remarkable man that lived about 1,960 years ago
here on our planet, called Jesus of Nazareth. He explained to us, “You have a Father. My Father is the Creator
of the universe. He actually made you because He wants you to share His friendship and His love.
That’s why you exist. That’s why He gave you all the presents He’s given you, like your ability to see and
hear and think. That’s why He’s given you these things.” What we shared yesterday was, of course, that we’ve
rejected that idea. We don’t like it. We haven’t wanted to be dependent on Him for His thoughts and His
guidance for us in our life. We’ve wanted to live our own life for our own sakes. The result is we’ve felt a
great need, a great lack in our lives. The lack is, of course, His love.
We were made for His love. We have a great need for that love. When we refuse to believe in Him, or refuse to
have any attitude of trust towards Him, there’s a great emptiness that comes into our lives. Actually, all of
us feel that. I mean, you feel it yourself, don’t you? You feel you were really made for the kind of heavenly
experience that is found in a cross between The Arabian Nights and Walden Pond. You feel you were made for
that combination of peace, solid peace and exhilarating excitement.
You feel you were made for stability and security — the security of having a million dollars or a million
pounds at your disposal, and yet the security of having someone who looks after you all the time. That’s where
we felt so much sympathy with Eliza, you remember, Eliza Doolittle, in “My Fair Lady”, when she talked about
all she wanted was chocolates and comfort and a sense of being at home.
That’s where we felt so close to her father when he talked about opening up the castle at Capri. We always
dream of a place of security and stability, like the riches we imagine have. We always feel we are made for
that. That’s because we were made for it. But it’s made not for those individual things, but for the love of
the infinite Creator of the universe, who with His love is able to give us all those things. Now, of course,
we feel the need of that love.
We feel not only the need of it, but we feel the need of the things that that love gives us. Of(cid:9) course, we
determine we must find it elsewhere. That’s what we have really done. Most of us have tried to find it in the
world itself — in the world of people, the world of things, the world of circumstances. We try to find in
that the characteristics of the love that the Creator has for us. We try to make up for the Creator’s love by
getting it from the world of men and things and circumstances and events.
So, we feel a great need of significance. You know, we look around and we say, “Oh, five billion others in
this world! I’m only one of five billion. Yet, I do feel I’m unique. I feel I’m different from everybody else.
But for some reason none of the rest seem to notice that I’m different.”
The funny thing is the whole five billion of us are saying that. We’re all saying, “I feel I’m unique.”
Actually, you are unique. There’s nobody like you in the whole universe. But we feel, “I’m unique. There’s
nobody like me. Yet none of the rest seem to notice that there’s nobody like me.” Of course, this is because
all the rest are thinking the same thing.
So, we start trying to get the rest to notice how unique we are, because we feel that that is what we need. If
we could only get someone to notice us, notice how unique we are, and how different we are, then maybe we
could fill that sense of emptiness that we have deep down in our hearts.
It’s really a need for the love of the Creator. But we can’t identify that, because we’ve given up believing
in God and all that stuff. So, we think, if we could only get people to think of and value us as we really
are, that would maybe give us some sense of fullness in our lives that we feel we need. So, we go to it. You
know we do.
We dream from when we’re little children of being Hopalong Cassidy, or Gene Autry, who gets the girl. Or we
dream of being some wonderful prince or king. Or later on, when we get out of grade school or primary school,
and we get into high school or grammar school or comprehensive school, we begin to think, “Maybe we can be
somebody. Maybe we can be somebody! Maybe we can be a Murdoch. Maybe we can be somebody important. We can’t be
obviously the king or the prince or Lady Diana. But maybe we can be somebody worth something.”
So, we begin to work to try to get people to notice how unique and how different we are. You know the kind of
clownish activities that that puts us into. How we suffer in sports and suffer in academics. How we struggle
with our appearance. How we try to buy the coolest looking clothing that we can get our hands on. How we try
to get the most unique haircut we can find. How we will dye our hair and stick pins in our cheeks. We’ll do
We’ll put earrings in our nose. We’ll make ourselves look dumb and stupid looking, if only somebody will
notice us. “Please, somebody notice me! Somebody appreciate that I’m different!” So we get into the most
hideous antics in order to try to get the sense of uniqueness that the love of the Creator alone gives us.
That’s the kind of life many of us live in these days.
Let’s talk a little more tomorrow about some of these things, because we’re all in the same boat, you know.
That’s one advantage we have. We can sympathize with each other, because we’re all doing the same thing. Let’s
talk a little more tomorrow.