TO FIND MEANING IN A PASSING WORLD
LIFE ON EARTH is not meant to last forever. Nothing here is permanent, thus, the paradox that says the only thing that remains constant is change. School ends, work begins. We make new friends, we lose old ones. Either we move to different places or the neighborhood itself undergoes changes. Loss and gain alike touch us with sadness, reminding us that nothing in this world is really permanent.
With incessant change around us, this is what the Holy Scriptures advises us all to realize when we reflect on life:
“Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be. Help me to know that I am here for but a moment more. My life is no longer than my hand! My whole lifetime is but a moment to you. Proud man! Frail as breath! A Shadow! And all his busy rushing ends in nothing. He heaps up riches for someone else to spend.” (Ps. 39:4-6, The Living Bible)
Not even we ourselves will remain. Children are born, the elderly pass away, and eventually one generation gives way to another.
Amidst a fast-changing world, the desperate pursuit of the basic necessities for survival has the ironic effect of sometimes making us forget the inevitability of death. But even we forget about death, if only for a little while, this is the kind of life we all experience in this world:
“HOW MANKIND MUST struggle. A man’s life is long and hard, like that of a slave.” (Job 7:1, Ibid.)
Life in this world is a constant struggle: making ends meet, supporting a family, supporting oneself, among others. Other than brief moments of rest and even briefer interludes of happiness, man’s life is filled with labor and toil, day in and day out, year in and year out, until the day he dies.
MEANING AND CONTENMENT
“God has given to some men very great wealth and honor, so that they can have everything they want, but he doesn’t give them the health to enjoy it. And they die and others get it all! This is absurd, a hollow mockery, and a serious fault.
“Even if a man has a hundred sons and as many daughters and lives to be very old, but leaves so little money at his death that his children can’t even give him a decent burial—I say that he would be better off born dead. For though his birth would then be futile and end in darkness, without even a name, never seeing the sun or even knowing its existence, yet that is better than to be an old, unhappy man. Though a man lives a thousand years twice over, but doesn’t find contentment—well, what’s the use?” (Eccl. 6:2-6, Ibid.)
No matter how long or materially prosperous a person’s life in this world may be, all it amounts to, without contentment, is nothing. Without true peace, that person’s entire existence is considered less valuable than that of a stillborn baby.
“For who knows what is good for a person in life, during the few and meaningless days they pass through like a shadow? Who can tell them what will happen under the sun after they are gone?” (Eccl. 6:12, New International Version)
In order to find meaning and value in our very existence, we must recognize the one who knows what is good for us. Some people have asked this question and found their answer in certain leaders or political ideologies, devoting their very lives for a particular cause.
Can those who place their hope on man or any human invention find true peace and contentment? Should we seek what is good for us from man or any man-made ideas?
Ironically, the great things man has accomplished only lay bare him limitations. The rapid advancements in science and technology have been truly wondrous. However, one of the greatest wonders in all of these achievements is that man’s condition seems only to worsen. Wars have become more devastating, crimes committed more abominable, the numbers of poor and hungry increasing, and even the natural environment itself continuously declining in irreparable decay.
And the biggest problem that man can never overcome by himself is death.
How about the man-made philosophies masquerading as religions, claiming to bring people to a higher level of spirituality or even back to God? The Bible curtly depicts their utter uselessness:
“There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.” (Prov. 14:12, New King James Version)
If any belief or religion claims to bring people back to God and what the people are doing there seems right or good, but what is taught are only man-made ideas, this would only bring its members to futile end in deep pain and despair. The final end for those who follow such ways is an eternal torment so horrible that it is called the second death (Rev. 20:14).
We humans are not the ones who know what is good for us and what we must do for our good. It is God, our merciful Creator, who knows:
“Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God--what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.” (Rom. 12:2, Today’s English Version)
THE WILL OF GOD—HIS SECRET PLAN
The Bible teaches us the will of God we should all recognize, the good work that we must fulfill for our own good:
“God did what he had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan he had already decided to complete by means of Christ. This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head.
“All things are done according to God's plan and decision; and God chose us to be his own people in union with Christ because of his own purpose, based on what he had decided from the very beginning.” (Eph. 1:9-11, Ibid.)
In order to follow God’s will we must be in union with our Lord Jesus Christ, with Christ Himself being our head. Once we have followed this, this is how God will consider us in relation to Christ:
“Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace” (Eph. 2:15, NKJV)
God considers His Son, Jesus, and all those in union with His Son as one new man. The Church that is in union with Christ as Christ’s own body—and therefore has Christ as its head—is the Church that all people must join to fulfill God’s will. This Church is the Church of Christ (Col. 1:18; Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation)
Whether we deem the present situation in this world to be happy and fulfilled or gloomy and miserable, we must all do this. Following God’s will—His call to enter the Church of Christ—will give our life meaning and true peace. The Bible tells us why:
“I ask that your minds may be opened to see his light, so that you will know what is the hope to which he has called you, how rich are the wonderful blessings he promises his people.” (Eph. 1:18, TEV)
Hope gives meaning and value to our life in this impermanent world. Those who listened to and obeyed God’s call by joining the Church of Christ have found true hope. They can hope in God’s wonderful blessings that He has promised to all who would become His people. That hope all Church of Christ members can carry is the certainty of attaining the true life that never ends:
“...in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.” (Titus 1:2, NIV)
Despite the sadness and the changes which we are all destined to experience here on earth, God our merciful Father, gives us all the opportunity to join the Church of Christ. Through His words written in the Holy Scriptures, He reminds us that even though this world is filled with more pains than joy, time is nearing when He, our loving Creator and Great Provider, will always be with us to take away all the pains and make our joy complete. He will give us true and everlasting life. God’s promises to His people were seen in a vision by Apostle John. He recounts:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had passed away and no longer was there any sea. I saw the new Jerusalem, the holy city coming down from God, out of heaven, adorned as a bride prepared for her husband. A loud voice came from the throne, ‘Here is the dwelling of God among men: He will pitch his tent among them and they will be his people. God will be with them and wipe every tear from their eyes. There shall be no more death or mourning, crying out or pain, for the world that was has passed away’.” (Rev. 21:1-4, Christian Community Bible)
Even though we all may feel pain in this world—even though all people, regardless of personal wealth or social position, experience loss—this will all pass away. We still have the chance to return to God and join Him in the true home intended for us. By joining the Church of Christ or Iglesia ni Cristo and serving the Lord until the end, we can fulfill the purpose of our existence and find true meaning, joy and peace.*
PAMPHLETS/PASUGO GOD’S MESSAGE/NOVEMBER 2000/VOLUME 52/NUMBER 11/PAGES 21-22
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