Jonathan Sacks, writing in his new book, Not in God’s Name, says we are living in a century that “has left us with a maximum of choice and a minimum of meaning.” That is a powerful, although sad, description of what it is a like in a world that is increasingly secularized.
One tech website says they identified 3,997 different smart phone models available in the world today. With TVs you can pick a 24-inch flat screen or go up to 110 inches or land somewhere in between with dozens of brands to choose from. If you are into music you can use iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, Sirius/XM radio and dozens of other means. We could go on, ad infinitum, but that is enough to make the point: A maximum of choice.
We are good at building, planning, executing. We are good at doing. We can get things done. We can find a solution or many solutions. We can maximize choice. But what is it all for? How good are we at finding meaning?
Several weeks ago someone introduced me to the work of a 31-year old blogger who shares this concern. She describes her blog as “a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why.” I have concluded she is brilliant. She reads voluminously, has an amazing recall of what she reads and synthesizes vast amounts of material for her readers with seeming literary ease. Her website has millions of visitors each month.
I have to admire anyone who encourages others not to just live but to find meaning in life. However, the more I read, the more it seems she believes that such meaning can be found just by being passionate about the topic. While being open-minded and even handed, she does reflect the postmodern view that meaning can be found in all kinds of ways--even those that are contradictory. Yes, by those who deny God and, yes, by those who embrace him.
But still, she is raising the right question, for no one was more concerned about the meaning of our lives than the Jesus who said, ”What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36).
As we enter that time of the year when people talk about the meaning of Christmas, it is important to think how that “seasonal matter” relates to finding meaning in life. If God only broke into history once in the incarnate Jesus, if “all things were created by him and for him,” and if “in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,” then to whom else should we go? And what if we go to someone or something else?
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel