January 7, 2007
"LOST? Finding Meaning"
(Genesis 1:1-5, John 1:1-5)
Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn
I heard a comedian the other day ask: "What if the Hokey Pokey IS what's it all about."
Someone saw this sign on a subway wall: "Life is one contradiction after another." Underneath it someone else had scribbled: "No it's not."
And on a bulletin board someone found this cryptic message: "This life is a test. It is only a test. Had it been an actual life You would have received Further instructions on Where to go and what to do!"
In Douglas Adams Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a hyper-intelligent race builds a computer to calculate the answer to "life, the universe, and everything." The computer says it will reveal the answer in seven and a half million years. After that length of time, this great throng of partying people arrives to hear "the answer to life, the universe, and everything." If you're a Douglas Adams fan, you know the answer is "42." Everybody gets upset because now they need the question so the answer will make sense!
I guess, maybe only second to searching for a parking place close to the door at your local Wal-Mart is the search for The Meaning of Life.
A. That search often starts at a young age. I have a friend Susan, whose 9-year-old little girl had recently been listening to her friend talk about going to a funeral. It seemed the preacher talked about the shortness of life and how all of us eventually die. It was obvious she'd been pondering what she'd heard for awhile because out of the clear blue as they were driving to school Susan's daughter asked: "Mom, if all we're going to do is die and become worm food, how come God made us?"
Now that's pretty deep for a nine year old. It's pretty deep for anyone. The search for the meaning of life and the search for meaning IN life is the ultimate search of every human being. Because the meaning of life and meaning In life is the bottom line, so to speak, the spark that drives us. The focus that gives us purpose, peace, hope and ultimately helps us find love, forgiveness and happiness.
So what IS the meaning of life?
Well that's not a simple question to answer. As funny as the answer "42" is, we know it's more than that, much more than that. But where do you find the answer to the question?
If you do a Google search on the question: "What is the meaning of life?" First thing you'll notice is that there are 97,800,000 links to answers to the question. Third on the list you'll find a link to Wikipedia an online encyclopedia. And just a brief look shows that there are philosphical, popular, scientific, theological and mystical views on the meaning of life.
The Scientific approach believes if you can understand the mechanics of the universe, then you'll be able to analyze the information and eventually determine "what the purpose is."
Philosophical views basically seek to quantify what has value and what doesn't. Once you find what is most valuable in life then you can determine what the meaning of life truly is.
Then there are those who believe that life doesn't have any meaning at all, we're here, we live and we die. That's it. Nothing else. (1)
B. That particular philosophy is seen in the movie 1991 movie L.A. Story. In it Steve Martin plays Harris Telemacher, TV's "wacky weatherman" in Los Angeles. He makes his living acting like a buffoon, when in actuality, he has a Ph.D. in Arts and Humanities. His whole life up to this point has been about appearance over substance, and he's slowly recognizing the meaninglessness of his life.
Waiting for his girlfriend to get ready for their lunch date, Harris can't understand why they can't be on time. He talks out loud about their miscommunication, and his inability to understand her emphasis on her appearance. When he goes out to wait in the car, he thinks about his life. In a voiceover, he says: "Sitting there at that moment, I thought of something else that Shakespeare said, he said 'Hey, life is pretty stupid, with lots of hubbub to keep you busy, but not amounting to much.' Of course, I'm paraphrasing. 'Life is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.'" (2)
A lot of people feel and believe and even experienced life that way.
A. But from a Christian Biblical perspective, life does have meaning. Life wasn't accidental. From a Biblical perspective, we didn't just accidentally evolve from some primordial glop of ooze. Life didn't just drop out of the sky like the droppings of a bird. Scripture tells us that we were intentionally created which means there is purpose and meaning and direction behind our existence.
Listen to both the Old and New Testament creation stories found in Genesis 1:1-5 and John 1:1-5.
Genesis 1:1-5 (NRSV)
 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,
 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
 Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.
 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
John 1:1-5 (NRSV)
 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
 He was in the beginning with God.
 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being
 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
I believe the meaning of life is found in both of these creation stories. You see, in both of these passages we find out that there is an author behind everything in the world. And that all of creation was created for a purpose.
As you read the first couple of chapters of this our User's Manual, you come to discover that God created everything that we see so that we could be in relationship with God. All that there is around us was created for our support and also for us to care for and about.
God created us as objects of God's love. And that relationship was to be a mutual relationship. God loving us and us loving God. And then, through the experience of God loving us and us loving God, we would love one another. And in that mutual relationship of love with God and each other, like all of nature, like all of creation does everyday, we would bring Glory to God.
Rick Warren may have said it best in his books "The Purpose Driven Life & The Purpose Driven Church." He wrote: "It's not about you."
B. And it's not, it's about our relationship with the Creator of the all that is and was and ever will be.
We know that's a rift in that relationship. God created us in God's image. God didn't make us little rag dolls or automatons who could only respond in certain ways. No, God created us with the same creative spirit God has. We call that free will. Which means we have a choice whether to accept the love God offers or reject it. And like children, we tried to do both. We wanted freedom and a relationship. But because we disobeyed that relationship was torn and broken and we couldn't find a way to mend it.
I think it's this search for the way back home that has spawned so many philosophies and theologies concerning the meaning of life. And that's why we have a New Testament creation story as well. Because that's why Jesus came. Not only to mend the brokenness in our relationship with God through His own brokenness but also to be the bridge for us to cross the chasm caused by our sin and disobedience.
And with that we realize that true meaning in life is only found when we return to our creator. And the only way we can return to our creator is through His Son, Jesus.
A pair of golfers sliced their drives deep into the rough and went in search of their errant golf balls. The grass was high, the trees were thick, and tempers flared as they looked in vain through all the grass and underbrush. A kind elderly woman observed all this from the front porch of her nearby house. After the search had lasted for nearly half an hour, she finally called out to them, "I don't want to bother you men, but will it be cheating if I tell you where the golf balls are?" (3)
All around us, there are people searching for lost values, for real meaning in life, for purpose, hope direction and place of connection. There are people looking for peace and happiness, love and forgiveness. And we know where it's found. We can't be silent. We can't keep ti to ourselves.
You and I don't just have Good News to share with the world, we have Great News, the kind of news people have been searching for. We have Great News that will give meaning and direction in their lives. Remember "It's not about us." We know where to find the answer to the meaning of life. What we're called to do is Tell others.
3. The Pastor's Story File (Saratoga Press, P.O. Box 8, Platteville, CO, 80651; 970-785-2990), June 1994
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