Do we live for a mere inscription on a tomb?
Is there meaning to this madness? Is it just a rat race and then nothing but a cold, silent, and rotten end? Do we live for a mere inscription on a tomb? An inscription that will inevitably fade with the passage of time?
“When you see a man often wearing the robe of office, when you see one whose name is famous in the Forum, do not envy him; those things are bought at the price of life. They will waste all their years, in order that they may have one year reckoned by their name… Some, when they have crawled up through a thousand indignities to the crowning dignity, have been possessed by the unhappy thought that they have but toiled for an inscription on a tomb” (“On the Shortness of Life“).
Christ gives much more to live for. Christ gives us motivation for going “through a thousand indignities.” Christ gives meaning and motivation because through His resurrection our labor in the Lord—whatever it is—is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58)! We can please the Lord and work heartedly unto the Lord in whatever we do (1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:23-24)!
So, the goal of a Christian is not to “wear the robe of office” or be “famous in the Forum.” The goal of a Christian is to put a smile on the face of God their Father and hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
Perhaps that will entail being famous in the Forum or wearing the robe of office but the Christian is indifferent. The Christian’s goal is the same whether a pauper a prince: “He must become greater; I must become less” (Jn. 3:10). Christians know that when they do what’s right, they are still unworthy servants; who have only done what was their duty (Lk. 17:10).
So, no; we, or at least Christians, do not live for an inscription on a tomb. But rather for the One who forever takes us beyond the tomb. We live for the veil to lift so we can see the full marvelous glory of God; so we can continually taste of the goodness of God. It is about God and His glory. He deserves all glory and our very purpose is found in enjoying His glory and glorifying Him in the myriads ways that He has called us to.
Christians “crawl” up through a thousand indignities to the crowning dignity of eternal and endless delight.
So, no matter what they tell us, or no matter what we feel, there is a telos. There is a point. There is meaning.
Our end does not have to be the grave because of God.
*Photo by Ronni Kurtz
There was and never will be a meaningless moment.
Our lives and our decisions matter eternally. They ripple through the corridors of time. There was and never will be a meaningless moment.
I was reminded of this truth recently by two things. One was an email from a missionary that was questioning the good that they, limited and challenged that they are, could accomplish. The second reminder came from one of my favorite books by C.S. Lewis, Perelandra.
In Perelandra Elwin Ransom is sent to the planet Perelandra (or in English, Venus) to stop the Fall of that planet (parallel in some ways to the temptation of Eve in Genesis). Weston, the great enemy, possessed by Satan has now become the un-man. The un-man is seeking to cause the destruction of the beautiful and enchanting Perelandra.
Ransom upon seeing that he is commissioned to stop the un-man and prevent the Fall is crushed by the weight of it all as well as confused over why God doesn’t send some miracle. “He tried to persuade himself that he, Ransom, could not possibly be [God’s] representative” (p. 141).
Ransom questioned. “What was the sense of so arranging things that anything really important should finally and absolutely depend on such a man of straw as himself?” (p. 142). Yet that is the way things are.
“At that moment, far away on Earth, as he now could not help remembering, men were at war,… and freckled corporals who had but lately begun to shave, stood in horrible gaps or crawled forward in deadly darkness, awaking, like him, to the preposterous truth that all really depended on their actions” (p. 142).
Or think of Eve herself. She “stood looking upon the forbidden fruit and the Heaven of Heavens waited for her decision” (p. 142).
So, Ransom came to see that it is true, that “a stone may determine the course of a river” (p. 142).
He felt it megalomania to think that he himself is the way that God will work—work a miracle. Yet, “he himself was the miracle” (p. 141). He was God’s provision. The way God was providing deliverance.
“Here in Perelandra the temptation would be stopped by Ransom, or it would not be stopped at all… This chapter, this page, this very sentence, in the cosmic story was utterly and eternally itself; no other passage that had occurred or ever would occur could be substituted for it (p. 146)… Great issues hung on his choice… It lay with him to save or to spill” (p. 148).
As he saw his call, he also felt an unbearable weight. Then he felt the weight left. “He was in God’s hands. As long as he did his best—and he had done his best—God would see to the final issue” (p. 141).
God uses mere humans as His mouthpiece. God uses humans to do His will. What we do matters. It matters eternally.
Let me ask you, friends, what are you doing?
In Mere Christianity, Lewis said, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
Friends, our lives matter, our actions matter, our voices matter.
If we knew a millionth of the magnitude of our lives we’d be moved to wonder and crippled by the significance of it all. Our lives and our every action have significance because this world and this life is not all there is.
And for Christians, this is multiplied ten-fold. We are mouthpieces, ambassadors, commissioned by the one true God.
Friends, let’s live fierce purposeful lives because we have purpose. Our lives matter more than we can know.