It seems to me that we are all missing the point. There was a time when a whole generation spent a good chunk of their youth seeking the point. Now it seems that our youth (and many adults) have resigned themselves to the fact that there is no point. After all, what is the relevance of life. We eat. We sleep. Eventually we die. Before we die we put tons of energy into working hard so that we can afford to eat, then we are too tired to do anything else so we sleep, just to get up in the morning and do it all over again. What are we doing? Are we only keeping ourselves occupied until we die? These are some of the questions Solomon asked in Ecclesiastes. Much of what he concluded about various things throughout his recorded search was, "Meaningless! Meaningless! It's all meaningless!"
Our Western culture seems to be stuck in this non-ending desire to possess things, as if we are trying to derive a meaning or purpose of life from the toys, gadgets, treasures of earth. Most people dream of owning their own home and set their purpose in life to do just that. Some will only get as far as owning their own car. If we can't afford it we put it on credit and spend the next 10 years paying it off or perhaps 30 and 40 years in the case of a house. We work very hard in order to possess things that either break or that we are too tired to enjoy. Most of us have a clutter problem in our homes because we own far more than what we need. Even back in Jesus' day there was a problem with people spending too much time emphasizing the wrong things:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? (Matthew 6:25)
The "therefore" is related to yesterday's topic of being faithfully dedicated to God, with him being the greatest priority in our lives. So if that is in place we should understand that there are certain priorities that we live by. We are too occupied with the wrong priorities. Life is for living. Work should add to that living, not take away from it. Everything we do should add meaning to our life, should add to our joy. But this is only possible if and when we understand our purpose. Purpose will allow us to live by the right priorities; first God, then people, then everything else. When our priorities are wrong we can tell by the level of stress we live under. Consider Jesus' words carefully:
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Matthew 6:26-27)
If you are not wholly dedicated to the Father you cannot possibly achieve this and, if you think you are and you still are stressed then either you don't understand or you are lying to yourself. We are often like little ants, busy running around and gathering, gathering, gathering. We want to make sure we have enough for our retirement or to do this project or to take that trip. We forget to live in the moment in order to live a dream sometime in the future. The problem is that some of us will not make it to our retirement and others may end up losing all that treasure. What a shame that we forgot to live, breathe, dance, enjoy the sunshine and the rain, do silly things with our friends and children, take adventures, all in relationship with our Father. What a shame that we forgot the priority of God and then people, coming to the end of our days without a penny to our name and bankrupt in our friend account. What a meaningless life.
That is not God's design or purpose for us. He created us and he saved us that we would have life in abundance. Regardless of what they world tells you, there is abundant living to be hand even when the bank account is empty. Jesus taught:
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Matthew 6:28-30)
There is the point! Faith. Faith is not an object or even a state of mind. Faith is an act, a decision that is made based on a relationship of trust. You will not find meaning in anything in life if you do not first grow in your all-important relationship with God. Once you realize how much he loves you, you will be able to stop stressing out over life and be able to live. Do your part, work and find enjoyment in that work; study and find enjoyment in that study; be diligent and find great purpose in doing so; but do not set aside God and people. In fact, put God and people at the center of everything you do. Work to bless your boss and the people who receive the fruit of your labour. Take some pride in what you do and find joy in it. Honour God with everything you do; homework, housework, cooking, shoveling, mowing and you will find joy and purpose. See the people who are connected to your actions and realize the impact you are having on them and then things will fall into the right priority. Stop making life about things:
So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:31-34)
Seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness. The Kingdom is God and people and righteousness means being in a right relationship with both, doing the right stuff with both. Do your priorities line up with that? Was God the first one on your mind as you opened your eyes this morning? Are you determined to bless the people in your life with joy and encouragement? Are you going to make your work place and school a better place today in your attitude with other people? Do not allow the priorities of our culture to strip from you the abundant life Jesus came to give us. Seek first his Kingdom and righteousness today and everyday of your life and you will learn to live an abundant life!