Generally, media outlets focus on terrible situations. Suffering and outrage seem to sell better than reports of people helping and loving one another. The news this week included an incident in which a high school student shot and killed several of his classmates. It was reported that just before taking these horrific actions, the student wrote on a piece of paper something to the effect that his life was worthless.
Although such feelings never justify harming others, it’s not difficult to understand why anyone, particularly a teenager, would feel discouraged in today’s world. With an incredible degree of assurance and arrogance scientists proclaim that humans evolved from some early form of life in the oceans. If this is the case, what meaning and purpose could life possibly hold?
Having been taught by science that there is no purpose other than to survive to pass along one’s genes, people today, particularly young people in school, are also taught that you are what your race has made you. If you are one race, you’re told that you are an oppressor. If another, you and those who came before you have been oppressed. People of other races seem to fall somewhere in between. The message? Some were born with malevolent intent and others with little hope other than to demand justice from their malicious oppressors.
The prevailing messages these days, then, are that life has little meaning or purpose, and that race determines one’s worth and moral standing. Is there any wonder in such a culture that many people, especially those at the ages when individuals commonly search for meaning and purpose, are downcast, anxious, and feel that their life is worthless?
Think for a moment about the source of these messages. The overlords of the current cultural views are either scientists who if they are honest will tell you that they understand less than five percent of what they study, or revolutionary atheists who deny the existence of God and proclaim that they have the answers to how life should be lived, They then seek to force others to comply with their doctrines through various forms of government control. They have, in effect, set themselves up as gods.
All this stands in start contrast to the message of Scripture. There is some bad news in the Bible. We’re taught that after the original sin of Adam and Eve all people are born into a Kingdom of evil. We are sinners by birth and by practice. And yet, this message is followed by the best news anyone could ever hear. The good news, otherwise known as the Gospel, is that God loved us so much that he provided a way for us to escape from evil and to be reconciled to Him. We can then live with great hope, meaning, purpose, and joy. Consider the following passage from 1 John 4:9-10 (NIV):
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Only through receiving Jesus as Savior and Lord can we escape the Kingdom of evil and be reconciled to God. Jesus paid the price for our sin and opened the way to eternal life.
At some point, all who have received Jesus will enter heaven. We will live forever in God’s presence with joy and love that we at this time cannot even comprehend. Until then, there is much for us to do on earth. It’s our joy and privilege here to shine as lights of hope in this dark place. As we do so, we become targets of those who hate God and everything about him. They see themselves as gods, and hate anyone or anything that brings light into the darkness they love.
The messaging noted above as being at the core of today’s culture belongs to darkness. It is devoid of hope, joy, love, and grace. It’s based instead on vengeance, retribution, hatred, and control. As you live and share the message of hope, love, light, and joy, you will become a target.
This contrast between light and darkness is a central theme of Scripture. The difference between God’s pure love and his enemies who embrace hatred and division can be seen throughout the Bible. As one example of thousands, take the time to read and think through the content of Psalm 16 (ESV):
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
These words were written some 3,000 years ago by King David. For much of his life he was pursued by those who rejected the purposes of God and who sought to gain control for themselves.
Don’t miss the last paragraph of this Psalm. Through God’s word, prayer, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Christ followers know the path of life, the meaning of life, and know that fullness of joy can only be found in God’s presence.
Rather than hate those who proclaim the messages of culture today that lead to despair, hopelessness, and anger, let’s commit to sharing the truth, the good news of God’s love as He gives us the opportunity to do so. Let’s pray that the darkness now surrounding our world will be pierced by the light of God’s love, and that many more will know the path of life and the fulness of joy that’s only available to Christ followers.