Summary: This sermon examines the profound topic of The Meaning of Life from a wordly and then Godly perspective to bring the listener to a point of clarity in their life's meaning and purpose.
The Meaning of Life
To begin our discussion of the meaning of life, we began with life's end, death.
Bill Moyers, the famous commentator who spoke at SMU during the week, quoted on death:
"Each night when we pitch our tent, we are one day's walk closer to our final destination."
"Through death, we learn the most about living."
What does the bible tell us about what we should be doing in our life?
With the clarity that death brings to living, we looked at two measures of life's meaning:
Before describing these scales, each of assessed a value to our life's meaning if it ended today (scale 1 - 100). Then the point was made that the score we recorded was actually less important than the scale we used. What were the criterion that went through our mind we decided our meaning? While our score can change, unless we are using the right scale of measurement we run the risk of spending our life's efforts racking up points on a meaningless scale. With that thought, we examined the most common worldly scales used to determine the meaning of life. We each wrote how significant each scale is in our own lives (scale 1 -10) based on our dedication of resources in time, money, and thought toward each worldly scale.
Steve Forbes Scale: meaning is based on net worth, salary, title, and position
Bill Gates Scale: meaning is based on number of television channels surfed, number of internet site hits, number of electronic gadgets owned or on one's person at any time (cell phone, pager, palm pilot, laptop, walkman, etc.)
Tiger Woods Scale: meaning is established by one's golf score (even through retirement in Florida) or athletic prowess; this scale also establishes meaning by the number of sporting events viewed in one's lifetime
Hugh Hefner Scale: meaning is derived from the volume of "sexual relations" with different partners and the viewing of pornography
Martha Stewart Scale: meaning is established by the would be rating of your abode by Martha Stewart based on decorations, furniture, and art
Cindy Crawford Scale: meaning is established by one's looks including tan, complexion, and curves (hair density and muscle mass for men)
Ann Taylor Scale: meaning is measured by the number of sales attended, miles walked in a mall, feet of clothes in the closet, and number of shoes owned
We noted that efforts toward some of these scales is not necessarily bad (Hugh Hefner scale is an exception). We should not be ashamed to work diligently in our careers or to have nice things. Regardless of our score on each scale, however, the cumulative score toward the real meaning of life is ZERO.
This zero rating was evidenced by the story of a gentleman with over $100 million dollars and maxing out on the worldly scale. He says after having it all, it is all meaningless. Yet after dedicating his life toward reading and philosophy, he could not answer the question, "What is the meaning of life?" He credited his lack of an answer, lack of spiritual faith, and lack of meaning to having experienced no tragedy in his entire life.
We then looked at the story of our class' friend Geraldine. Geraldine, as a child was beaten, tortured, and raped, but has persevered to dedicate her adult life to helping the abused. She had just that week experienced another tragedy when one of the children she keeps, Ethan, was severely beaten by its mother's boyfriend. The amazing part of the story is that as Geraldine watched Ethan in ICU, she spoke of how she will find a way to do more to protect and love single parents and their children. She wants to formalize her ministry and is soliciting the help of the class and national figures like Oprah Winfrey. This is where Geraldine, who has little to no score on the wordly scale, finds meaning, in literally saving lives with her love from those who are full of hate.
The answer to the meaning of life is found in the contrast between the rich man and Geraldine. The rich man proves that there is no meaning in the worldy scale. Geraldine proves that the Godly scale holds the meaning of life. The meaning of life through the Godly scale is then one defined by two words:
Specifically, this means having the ultimate love relationship with God and love relationships with everyone we meet: family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, strangers, pedestrians, drivers on the road, homeless, and any "untouchables." That is the meaning of life, loving the Lord our God with all our heart and loving our neighbors as ourselves (Romans 13:9-12). Now when anyone asks the questions, "What is the meaning of life?" we have an answer. We also know how to rate our score when we define our meaning in life. There is only one scale; the Godly scale.
We closed in a prayer asking that we would "wake from our slumber" and go out to lead a life with meaning, defined by love relationships.