I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of, so they can see that it’s not the answer.
I came across this quote on twitter today, and is incredibly profound.
The “Holy Grail” of our culture today is to discover “how can I be happy” -perhaps that is why Church fails to attract people as the image we have is of miserable people looking gloomy and slightly bored!
Yet this “how can I be happy” question is one that is right at the heart of what it means to be human, when we read the book of Ecclesiastes, although thousands of year old, it reads like a modern-day classic echoing our generations search for meaning, substance and purpose. Realising that true meaning wasn’t found in riches, pleasures or even knowledge all this was ‘vanity or chasing after wind’ -which is a polite way of saying “it is all *&^%!” -which is a pretty literal translation of the ‘Vanity’ phrase.
when asked “what would make you happy?” -most people would say a lottery win -and that is why so many people buy tickets or get hooked on gambling- and yet when journalists have followed up lottery winners many, many, many of them have found that their wealth has made them desperately unhappy.
More-over money can’t buy the stuff that ultimately matters, and we can’t take it with us. “what does it profit a man if they gain the whole world and loose their life, The Rich Man and Lazerous is another story illustrating that same point, as does the rich fool who thinks he can “eat, drink and be merry”… but he died that very night.
Lots of the great heroes of the faith had something of a sworded past, St. Francis had it all and realised it was worth nothing, he gave it all up (literally stripping naked in the town square and having to have his bits covered by a Bishops Mitre -gotta love a bit of Church history, you couldn’t make it up!) and lived a life of simplicity (voluntary poverty, chastity and obedience). Yet his rejection of his past hedonistic lifestyle has to me echoes of St. Paul giving up his life of empty religious piety to follow the risen Christ when he said “whatever I (used to) considered profit I know consider loss for the all surpassing greatness of knowing Christ” -again the world for loss is slightly politely translated the actual phrase means “Dog $%^&!”-
Later St. Francis said “our hearts are restless until they find their rest in him”, later described as a “God-shaped hole in our lives that only God can fill”.
Jesus himself described himself as “the bread of life” the idea is that bread satisfies our hunger, one communion prayer puts it fantastically “he is our living bread in which all our hungers are satisfied”.
The way to have a life that is fulfilled is often the opposite of what we think, it’s not our wealth, experiences, relationships but actually it comes from knowing Christ.
As the Westminster Catechism says “the chief end of man i to worship God and to enjoy him forever”, it is only in Jesus who promises to give us “life in all its fullness”, for his is the “way, the truth and the life”, “he as Jesus says “he who drinks this water will thirst again, but who-ever drinks the water that I give him will never thirst indeed it will become a spring of living water welling up within him to eternal life.
It is counter intuitive as Jesus says “whoever wants to keep his life will loose it but whoever looses his life for my sake will find it!”
To close this blog I’ll leave you with a quote from the Martyred missionary Jim Elliott “he is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep (his life) to gain what he cannot loose (eternal life)”.