That Age Old Question
Many, many people (most much smarter than I am), have questioned the meaning of life through the ages. I’m sure almost everyone in this room, has questioned the meaning of their own life: your purpose, your calling. And there are honestly as many answers as there are people.
Some people think the meaning of life can be found through acquiring things, the things of this world… The stuff of life. So they buy stuff… Stuff they don’t need… Stuff that I want… I just buy stuff... and build bigger and bigger barns to hold it all.
Others think the meaning of life… is all about family. We were put here to procreate... so our family, our children… our mothers fathers, spouses and so forth and so on are the most important part of life. So, the meaning of life must be wrapped up in family.
Some say the meaning of life is to acquire knowledge. So they study, they read, constantly learning… professional students (so to speak)... constantly striving to gain more meaning through understanding.
Then there are those who think the meaning of life is all about making money… being successful... and they’ll do just about anything to make that happen.
But as followers of Christ, you and I are called to look at the world differently. To view life from a different perspective… from a Christian perspective. And when we begin to think about the meaning of life, we can’t help but think of the will of God. The two go “hand in glove.” After all God is the one who created and ordered life. God is the one who breathed life into our bodies from the very beginning. So God is the only one capable of truly defining and determining the purpose for our lives. So we ask God, “what’s your will for my life?” And then most of the time we live our lives as if God refuses to answer.
Of course, when you and I start to think about the will of God, we have to be careful. Because many of person has carried out great harm by professing to know “the will of God.“ Holy wars… Inquisitions… Acts of great terrorism… along with many, many other things, have been carried out by people professing to know “the will of God.“
In Jesus day there were basically two camps, two ways to understand God’s will: You had the Sadducees and Pharisees.
The Sadducees basically believed that if the laws of Moses didn’t address God’s will, it does not matter! And so they preserved the message that was handed down from Moses… Rigidly, refusing to adapt or change in any way. So much so that they didn’t even consider the other books of the Bible, the Psalms and the other books of the Old Testament… books like Isaiah and Jeremiah… to be authoritative. They focused solely on the laws contain in the Books of Moses… the first 5 books of the Bible… and the 613 laws it contains.
The Pharisees, a different approach. A less rigid approach… Only problem was they were constantly interpreting the law. Constantly adapting the law to fit in new situations… and adding their ever changing interpretations to the law itself. Meaning at the end of the day, their understanding of the law was much more complex in the Sadducees. And much more difficult to follow.
And in the end… neither side was right. Both the Sadducees and the Pharisees had missed the whole point of the Law, and God’s Will… both in their rigidly and their constant commentary.
So what did Jesus say in response? Well, when asked about it... Jesus said, doing the will of God boils down to this: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commands the whole of the law and the prophets rest.”
What is the meaning of life? What is your reason for living? Is it really to just make money? Really? Is you goal just to have more stuff than your neighbor? Is the purpose of life to avoid pain and trouble? Is it to spoil our children and grandchildren? Or to only care for “our four and no more?”
Or... is it to love God and love your neighbor?
This is what Jesus was getting at in our first scripture lesson as well. We worry about all kinds of things in life... about material things... about food and clothing and shelter... and medicine... and taxes... and wayward children... and, well, the list goes on an on, doesn’t it?
And to all such worries... Jesus says, “Seek ye first, the Kingdom of God... and His righteousness... and all these things we need, will be added (they will be given to us) as well.”
It’s not that you can’t have nice things if you’re a Christian. It’s okay to have a nice house, with nice stuff. You can (and should) love your family and take care of your responsibilities. And a workman is always worth his/her keep. So making money is just fine.
But why we actually do those things is important, too.
The answer to that age old question about the meaning of life is quite simple: love God and your neighbor. You can try to serve another purpose if you want! You can make other things of primary importance; we can convince ourselves of just about anything. But getting the cart before the horse leads to nowhere.
Love the Lord your God... and love others as yourself. The only way to find meaning, purpose and direction in this life IS THE VERY SAME whether you’re 8 or 88! Our purpose, our calling: is to make God's definition of the meaning of life your own.
And one of the greatest promises of scripture is fulfilled when we do. When we love God and others... first... we find that all the other stuff of life... from possessions to family.... become an even greater blessings.
Love the Lord your God with all... and love your neighbor as yourself. Amen.