Made for Meaning

Disney and Marvel certainly know how to make money. They own most of the entertainment content that has been profitable on TV and at the movies in recent years. Their latest release is a new branch in the expanding Marvel universe, simply entitled, Eternals. The one sentence description reads, “The saga of the Eternals, a race of immortal beings who lived on Earth and shaped its history and civilizations.” That sounds pretty significant, doesn’t it? These beings by their actions have made key differences throughout the history of our world. This is a fantasy that calls to the core of our lives, the desire for our lives to matter, to make a difference.

God created us with that desire. We were made for meaning. Everyone wants their lives to matter. The irony of this is that movies like this are a part of the society we’ve created which encourages us to live our lives in anything but a meaningful way. Our lives are flooded with opportunities to spend our time on things which add little value to our own lives or the lives of others. The focus is on living a life centered around entertainment and self-service. Whether it be videos, games, or personal experiences, much of the world we live in today is built around people as individuals or in groups pursuing these kind of diversions.

This topic has been written about extensively, and one of the best books on the subject (which turned out to be quite prophetic) is Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, written way back in 1985. Another vision that is worth mentioning comes from Disney again, in the Pixar film, Wall-E. In the film, humans had to abandon earth and survived on board a spaceship where every need is automated. The humans on board have gradually become overweight blobs who do nothing but sit in floating chairs, eating and watching screens. This being Disney, we are spared any exploration into how their other biological processes might be dealt with.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Pexels.com

Recently, as Mark Zuckerberg unveiled his vision for the future of his company, now known as Meta, I couldn’t help but see a connection to the future we see in Wall-E and other science fiction novels and works of fiction. The idea of alternate realities have dominated science fiction in recent years. One of the earliest visions for this was Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, first released in 1992. Stephenson coined the term “metaverse”. I wonder if Zuckerberg is paying him anything for that turn of phrase.

In the future environment that is imagined in many of these works, man’s existence is boiled down to very simple terms, usually presenting an idea that what people need to survive is little more than food, water, shelter and entertainment. Work is only done for pleasure and enjoyment, if at all. In most of these visions, it is similar to being on a long international flight that never ends, but without having to share an armrest with someone or to worry about being crammed between narrow seats.

Even if we have the most comfortable chair, the tastiest food and the best entertainment (Wall-E’s vision) is this really all there is to life? Unfortunately, even though the answer to this question should be an obvious “no” for everyone, we aren’t offered a much better alternative if we look at what is emphasized on many platforms today. This is part of the reason depression and drug use is on the rise. The pursuit of nothing but self-gratification is a disappointing path even for those who are mostly successful in this for a season.

As I mentioned in the beginning, we were created for much more than this. We were created to live a life that matters. A life of purpose and meaning. Giving our lives to gain more likes, score more points, attract more followers or have more fun doesn’t fill the void inside of us. Not anymore than the fruitless pursuit of money, power or fame might have done for future generations. Meaning comes from doing, from building, from creating, and most of all in investing in the future. True meaning is not found in artificial pursuits, but in reality, in the opportunity to impact eternity.

The true eternals live all around us. Every person you meet is an eternal soul. They will live on forever after passing from this earth. We can impact eternity every day through our interactions with our fellow ‘eternals’. 1 Peter 2 is a wonderful passage on meaning, especially found through Jesus Christ.

4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

I Peter 2:4-5

9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

I peter 2:9-10

What does this passage say about God/Christ?

  • Christ is the cornerstone of our faith, upon which everything is built. 
  • Christ was rejected by humans, but chosen by God.

What does this passage say about us?

  • We are living stones
  • We are a holy priesthood
  • When we trust in Him, we are never put to shame
  • We are a chosen people
  • We are God’s special possession
  • We are the people of God
  • We have received mercy

What does this passage tell us to do?

  • Offer ourselves as spiritual sacrifices
  • Believe in Him
  • Declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light

This passage is filled with the affirmation of who we are in Christ.  It tells us that we are a part of what He is doing, we are living stones in the Kingdom that He is building.  It tells us that those who don’t believe will stumble over His teaching.

Living stones was a strong contrast to all that people knew of religion in the Gentile-dominated world that Peter lived in.  They worshipped all kinds of God’s, but nothing quite like Christ.  He is the living cornerstone, upon which everything rests.  We are living stones, with which He builds His Kingdom.  What that should tell you is, if you build on His foundation, your lives are spent well.  If you build on your own, there is no way to know the value of our labors.

We are to labor to build on the foundation of Christ, so how do we do that? 

How do we spend our lives for eternal value?

What has eternal value?  God, His Word, human souls.  We spend our souls for eternity by knowing Him and making Him known.  Do you know Him, is your relationship with Him living and active and can you introduce Him to others that you meet?

We have different strategies, different best practices, but if they don’t involve us spending time with the Lord and spending time with people to share about the Lord, then we are probably not using our time wisely.  Let’s look at these verses again in the Message translation:

Whoever trusts in this stone as a foundation will never have cause to regret it. But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

This is a high calling.  We are God’s instruments, telling others how once we are nothing, but now we are something, in Him.  Telling them how once we were rejected, but now we are accepted, in Him.  Or, as it said in the translation we looked at earlier, “Once we were not a people, but now we are the people of God.” You were created for purpose, for meaning, for your life to matter on the landscape of eternity. As you wake up each day, you can choose to engage with the unreality of Meta, the Matrix, the Metaverse or whatever trendy name arrives in the future for popular distraction or choose that day to invest in the reality that we live in, the only reality that matters in the scope of eternity. This is our eternal opportunity to be “living stones.”

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