There seems to be a trend in society today to be obsessed with self. I’m sure there are many reasons, but many professionals have traced this declining trend back to the family unit breakdown. Even in my small town in flyover country, many kids are raising themselves. Parents are working and trying to have a social life, and their kids are too often on the low end of their list of priorities. These kids have grown up in survival mode and doing whatever they please with no concern for others. It’s what their parents have taught them by default. Simple lessons on right and wrong have gone untaught. The schools provide programs to feed kids during the summer because parents have lost sight of what’s essential. And that’s the story in which millennials have found themselves.
Older people have a different story that may not be so self-focused but is still full of pain and disappointment along with some excellent times. But pain and shame cause insecurity that plays out in self-focus.
But deep inside our souls, most of us, no matter our age, is the ache that we are more than the story we find ourselves in presently. There is a tugging at our heart or mind that we can do more or experience more than we are. We wonder if we should have chosen another profession or happier in a different relationship or another state or location. The list goes on of things we think could make our mundane life better.
The dilemma becomes more significant if we feel that God is indifferent and just watching from afar. Especially if we still sense there is something more to life than what we are currently experiencing. What do we do with that nudging, almost nagging feeling that we are missing our calling or something fulfilling? Fear may hold us in place at a dead-end job because the unknown is scary. We may have given up on our relationships when, in fact, they may only need a tweak of counseling or a change in perspective. But the work required to change our circumstances is daunting.
Religion Is Not the Answer
The buffet of religions becomes confusing for answering life’s questions. Something about religion makes us push past people to achieve some power over people. We have made government, politics, faith systems, hobbies, our phones, our careers, and almost anything that we enjoy into a religion. Competition for the lead, the top, the position of authority becomes our goal, and we’ll do whatever it takes. Today there is a religion pressing for world domination and will kill anyone who poses a threat. Although other religions have not been so bold, they have done a lot of damage.
We are all on this earth, and no matter our background, we are doing what we know is best. Even the addict in the alley is doing what he or she assumes is the best they can do. No one dreams of being homeless or down and out, but some fall into that position because they don’t feel they have options.
The other end of that spectrum is the one who seems to have everything—money, fame, friends, toys, and mansions, but they still feel empty. They made a religion of getting to the top and found out it wasn’t what they hoped. It was the same old story with a different twist.
Christianity is the “religion” I am familiar with, and many people have done damage in the name of Christianity. I heard a pastor say that if we didn’t welcome the Syrian refugees, we were going to hell. Many religions are “works” based, but true Christianity isn’t. There are few “have to’s” in Christianity, although many would not agree with me on that.
A Christian’s demeanor should be one of caring for the needs of others. Anything from sitting quietly with someone who is grieving to offering meals or a place to stay and giving money to help. Even a smile can make someone’s day.
The authors of “The Chosen., 40 Days with Jesus” (Broadstreet Publishing, pg. 72) put it the best way I have seen: “Despite popular consensus, teaching folks to “love thy neighbor” was not Jesus’ main thing. Jesus talked about turning the other cheek, helping the poor, and forgiveness and grace. All good things, just not the main thing. The main thing: Jesus came to proclaim the Kingdom of heaven—God’s sovereign rule now and for all eternity.”
There is a bigger story, and we are called—nudged to join it — more on this tomorrow. What is the Kingdom of Heaven, and do I have to die to be there? Why would I want to be in the Kingdom of God? Is this for real or just a bunch of baloney?