This precarious predicament is called "existential nihilism", and is, in varying degrees, the prevailing mindset of modern, materialistic, "scientific" society. Is it any wonder that as a society, we are inundated and saturated with aimlessness and purposelessness, escapism of all forms (drugs, sex, entertainment), immorality, perversion of the Arts, unprecedented violence, rebellion against ALL authority, superabounding materialism, devaluation of human life, greed and a TOTALLY self-centered attitude of, "ME First, Last and Only" !!
No longer is our "societal house" built upon the "Rock of Ages", but we now rather have a society comprised of (living) Rocks !! (maybe "rock music" is aptly named ??)
Based upon the above, is it any wonder that our society is plagued by unprecedented numbers of attempted and/or completed suicides, especially among our younger members (high school and college). However, the REAL wonder is that the number is not MUCH greater! If one TRULY believes the tenets of "existential nihilism", there is NOTHING to live FOR !! If ALL that is and will ever occur is merely the result of random and chaotic matter and energy, where can there possibly be ANY chance for personal, individual significance or for that of our life ??
One more example of the hypocrisy of our society is shown in the fact that attempted (and completed) suicide is, in some US states, still considered an unwritten "common law crime," and as such is a criminal offense. For one person to assist another in their suicide IS a criminal offense. If a person DOES attempt to take their life, ALL that can be done to save it is done, even over the stringent objections of its owner. My question is, "On WHAT grounds do they make this judgment??" If everything is impersonal, random and without meaning of ANY form (moral ??), then what is the loss if a life is taken by its owner?? It had no value anyway!! -- or so, at least, say the "Existentialists". I AM NOT saying that I do or do not support suicide -- I am merely pointing out the mindless inconsistency of "social values".
So, true to form, our "social manipulators (engineers)" are trying their best to do to the concept of "human significance" what they have already done in large part in the areas of Faith (God), Family, Morality, Marriage and Male-Female Distinctiveness -- that is, to demolish the structure, plough under the "ancient ways", and leave nothing in its place except "sand castles", ruin and desolation !! They would tear down the massive structures built of granite stone (moral and ethical principles - values - concepts) which have endured the storms for thousands of years, and in their place they would construct "shanties made of rotten wood" (the prevailing "fad of the hour") !!
We need to remember ONE VERY important point when formulating new "moral and ethical principles". The fruit of the seed will not become visible for MANY years, and by then it may be too late to undo the results. Take for instance Dr. Spock, whose book "Baby and Child Care", published in 1946, is blamed by many as being a prime cause for the disastrous state of today's youth. Whether or not his ideas were misunderstood and/or misapplied, they still influenced the rearing of millions of children.
"Everyone who hears these words of mine (Jesus speaking) and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because it had been founded on rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, and it collapsed; it was utterly destroyed!" ****** Matthew 7:24-27
Many Philosophers, Psychologists, Theologians and Christian writers agree in general that MAN can not exist, function and grow into healthy (physical, psychological and spiritual) maturity without a sense of personal worth, dignity, purpose and significance, and as a corollary, neither can society. If MAN falls, society MUST fall !!
The Apostle Paul expresses this idea in relation to Christianity -- i.e., if the basic tenets of the Christian Faith are NOT true, then only a fool would do anything other than to get ALL that he (she) can get out of THIS life for the few years allotted to them.
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is futile and your faith is empty. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins. Furthermore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. For if only in this life we have hope in Christ, we should be pitied more than anyone. ...... If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. ****** 1 Corinthians 15:13-19,32
Perhaps more than ever before in its history, TODAY our society - and ESPECIALLY its younger members - are obsessed with finding purpose, value and significance in their OWN lives and in the world in general !! This seems to have begun acceleration around the 1960's, giving rise to the "Jesus Movement", the drug culture, the general movement of "spiritism", the rebellion against and rejection of traditional social values and morality, and the general apathy and cynicism so rampant in today's (2011) society.
Beginning in the music of the 1960's, you can see and hear the frustration, the emptiness, the confusion and the loneliness in the hearts of the younger generation expressed by their musical artists and music. They are crying out, trying to make sense of life -- THEIR LIFE in particular -- searching for value and SIGNIFICANCE. They are asking, "Who am I, What am I, Why am I here, is there ANYONE there, does ANYONE care ???? Regrettably - for both individuals AND for society - as the years rolled past, the tone of the music and the philosophy of the youth has become more cynical, more nihilistic, more hateful, more violent, increasingly rejecting a society that they felt was turning them into meaningless zombies
A secular music artist that I have admired, respected and loved his music from my 20's days until today is Neil Diamond. I believe that what attracted me to him (and STILL does) is the above mentioned quality contained in MANY (not all) of his songs. His music emphasizes the point of this essay from a non-Christian perspective. It points out that, try as it will, the "social machine" CAN NOT erase man's search for destiny, meaning and significance -- it can only produce frustrated, angry, hateful zombies !!!
Finally, in the sound track for the movie, "Jonathan Livingston Seagull", the ENTIRE experience expresses the searching and longing to find that which the heart and soul hungers for -- to rise above and out of the common, the empty, the profane -- into that life of "spirituality" where we can finally "BECOME" what God created us to be !!
I don't know whether or not Neil Diamond ever ACTUALLY connected with the source of meaning and significance that he obviously was seeking (Jesus Christ). I hope that he did. He indicates in one of his songs - "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show" live 1970 - that he was certainly pointed down the right path.
I don't make these songs available here because they contain the answer, though in some it is hinted at as though "darkly, hidden yet behind a veil". I make them available because they so eloquently voice and express the longing, painful cry of so many hearts, and because God can, if He so wishes, cry out to His lost, hurting children even through the voice of an "unbeliever". I heard this cry through numerous such instruments during many of the years that God was calling out to me !! I hope that you enjoy the following music by Neil Diamond [ Click Here ] as much as I have and STILL do.
This issue was the subject of a book written many years ago. You may download a .pdf copy of it here, entitled, "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" a story by Richard Bach.
Writers CS Lewis and Francis Schaeffer insisted that ONLY the God of creation, Jesus Christ, and Man's Redemption can meet this need FULLY. You may glean some interesting insights and oversights from an excellent book, "C.S. Lewis & Francis Schaeffer: Lessons for a New Century from the Most Influential Apologists of Our Time" Also, "How Then Should We Live?" and a "Trilogy" of his books, by Francis Schaeffer. Buy your INEXPENSIVE books at one of these sites: Amazon, Alibris, Abebooks.
Because Jesus knew that the Father had handed all things over to him, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, He got up from the meal, removed his outer clothes, took a towel and tied it around himself. He poured water into the washbasin and began to wash the disciples feet and to dry them with the towel He had wrapped around himself. ****** John 13:3-5
After Jesus was baptized, just as he was coming up out of the water, the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my one dear Son; in him I take great delight." Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. ****** Matthew 3:16-4:1
By this love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because just as Jesus is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been perfected in love. We love because he loved us first. ****** 1 John 4:17-19
Jesus was the PERFECT Man -- Holy and "WHOLLY" complete. He was fully authentic -- no pretense, no hidden agendas, no masks, no hypocrisy, no "social, religious or political correctness". He was not fragmented into numerous "selves", each wearing their mask appropriate for the occasion -- the religious self, the business self, the home self, the private self, ETC. With Jesus it was, as they say today, "What you see is what you get !!"
For an excellent book discussing the sickness of today's "plastic (fake) society", read "The Tyranny of Niceness: Unmasking the Need for Approval". Buy your INEXPENSIVE books at one of these sites: Amazon, Alibris, Abebooks. You may read an exerpt from the book [ HERE ]. You might also like to read an EXCELLENT article [ HERE ] entitled, Jesus Is Not "Nice" -- But He IS God!
The "world system" says that MAN (and ALL else) is merely the result of impersonal, random cosmic forces and/or energies. On the other hand, God, in His Word to mankind (the Bible), says that HE is the great creator who has brought into existence and governs ALL things (MAN included) for His Purpose. He tells us that MAN was created in His image, infused with a divine spirit, and given a truly magnificent and monumentous purpose and destiny -- nothing less than that he will one day become FULLY Divine Sons (and daughters) of his Father in heaven (God).
Click [ HERE ] to view "Going To The Father" by Henry Drummond.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. The Word was with God in the beginning. All things were created by Him (Jesus Christ), and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered (overcome) it. ****** John 1:1-5
Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule ......" God created humankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them. ****** Genesis 1:26,27
For he did not put the world to come, about which we are speaking, under the control of angels. Instead someone testified somewhere: "What is man that you think of him or the son of man that you care for him? You made him lower than the angels for a little while. You crowned him with glory and honor. You put all things under his control". For when he put all things under his control, he left nothing outside of his control. At present we do not yet see all things under his control ...... ****** Hebrews 2:5-8
He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love. He did this by predestining us to adoption as his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the pleasure of his will. He did this when he revealed to us the secret of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, toward the administration of the fullness of the times, to head up all things in Christ -- the things in heaven and the things on earth. In Christ we too have been claimed as God's own possession, since we were predestined according to the one purpose of Him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of His will so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, would be to the praise of his glory. ****** Ephesians 1:4-12
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, "Abba, Father"" The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are God's children. And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ) -- if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us. For the creation eagerly waits for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility -- not willingly but because of God who subjected it -- in hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God's children. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together until now. Not only this, but we ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we eagerly await our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with endurance. ****** Romans 8:14-25
I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things -- indeed, I regard them as dung! -- that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ's faithfulness -- a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ's faithfulness. My aim (purpose) is to know him, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained this -- that is, I have not already been perfected -- but I strive to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. ****** Philippians 3:8-14
Do you not know that all the runners in a stadium compete, but only one receives the prize? So run to win. Each competitor must exercise self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run uncertainly or box like one who hits only air. Instead, I subdue my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified. ****** 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
There is one VERY strong warning that I want to stress in light of the above statement that "God has created mankind with and for Glory, Honor and GREAT Significance". He has done this as befitting beings that are destined to become Divine Sons of the Living God - NOT as some spoiled, pampered, overindulged terrestrial brats !! He is the Divine, All Loving, All Powerful Heavenly FATHER who neither has nor will spare ANY expense to see that His children are raised to take their position in Glory as befitting His Sons (and Daughters).
He IS NOT the "Heavenly Santa Claus" nor the slightly senile "Heavenly Grandfather" who is on call to see that ALL of His grandchildren's selfish, self-centered whims and wishes are catered to. More to be pitied, THIS is what MUCH of Christendom today seems to think !!
Download a .pdf copy of the book, "The Search For Significance" by Dr. Steven C. Riser [ HERE ].