Summary: A sermon within a series which faces the question which has plagued humankind more than any other.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

“What Gives Life Meaning?:Tripping Over the Furniture”

What gives life meaning?

This is the question which has plagued humankind more than any other question.

Is it consumer goods?

Is it money?

Is it the accumulation of stuff?

Is it ease?

Is it food?

What gives life meaning and where can it be found?

This Advent Season, beginning with this morning, I will be preaching a sermon series which seeks to answer this befuddling conundrum.

This series will take us through all four Sundays in Advent all the way to our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service.

And I’ll only be using one Scripture passage for all five sermons: 1 Corinthians 13

…If we don’t already, we’ll all know this one by heart by Christmas Eve—and that’s a good thing since it is one of the most profound and moving passages in the entire Bible.

I believe it gets to the heart of what it is all about.

My prayer is that throughout these next five sermons we will all come to a better understanding of what truly gives meaning to life!!!

A psychologist who has been counseling teenagers for over 25 years has recently begun to see a new breed of unhappy kids—smart, successful, and privileged kids who feel utterly lost and empty.

One client in particular typified this kind of unhappy teen.

Late on a Friday afternoon—the last appointment of her week—the psychologist saw a 15-year-old girl who was “bright, personable, highly pressured by her adoring, but frequently preoccupied parents.”

The girl was also very “angry.”

The psychologist quickly recognized the girl’s “cutter disguise”—a long-sleeve t-shirt pulled half-way over her hand, with an opening torn in the cuff for her thumb.

The psychologist was startled to find that the girl had used a razor to carve the following word into her forearm—“Empty.”

A well-known Christian tells the following story about his home town of Naples, Florida, which he calls “one of the garden spots of the world.”

“It’s an almost nirvana for all golfers, and they all come there.

They’re all CEO’s of major corporations, and they retire to Naples, and this is “it”—27 golf courses and miles of sparkling beach and the best country clubs.

I watch these guys; they’re powerful people.

They have this New York look on their face; they’re determined.

But now, all of a sudden, they start measuring their lives by how many golf games they can get in.”

The man continues, “I often say to them, ‘Do you really want to live your life counting up the number of times you chase that little white ball around those greens?’

And they kind of chuckle, but it’s a nervous chuckle, because in six months they’ve realized how banal their lives are, and they’ve got beautiful homes—castles—and when they get bored with that, they build a bigger castle, and they’re miserable.”

We run after all kinds of things in life.

For those of us who have children, most of us want them to go to college, do well in their studies so that they can find a good job and so forth.

And this is a good thing.

No doubt about it.

One of the things I try to impress upon the kids who come Tuesdays for East Ridge Cares is the importance of education.

If these kids are ever going to escape the cycle of poverty, addiction and abuse—they must study hard in school, do their homework, get good grades and go to college.

They can do anything they want with their lives, right now that is.

They have a lot riding against them, but if they make their minds up, and really buckle down…

…if they can get a grasp of the big picture of things…

…they can have a successful life.

But if we were to only measure success on the basis of education, jobs, and subdivisions—we would be missing THE MOST CRITICAL INGREDIENT.

We would be missing the ONE THING which makes everything else worthwhile…meaningful, if you will.

Turning to our Scripture passage from 1 Corinthians…

…the writer of this letter, the Apostle Paul, was addressing a really “spiritual” group of folks.

Here in 21st Century America, some might refer to the Church at Corinth as a “Holy Roller Church.”

They had people speaking in tongues…

…as a matter of fact, they had people competing with one another over how many different tongues they could speak.

They had people standing up during worship time and prophesying about this, that and the other thing.

Some members tried to prove how “spiritual” they were compared to the rest of the assembly by spouting out a bunch of so-called “knowledge”…

…like some Christian form of Trivial Pursuit or Jeopardy.

Others got all uppity about how much “faith” they had and looked down on others who were perhaps struggling a bit more than they.

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