Friday, July 18, 2014

Living or Dying

I have a step-son who is a young adult, and I've watched him grow through many different ways of thinking.  At one point, I remember hearing him say things that I hear a lot of young people say.  The image to the left summarizes one such statement pretty well: "Are you really living life... or are you just paying bills until you die?"  Granted, most of the people who say things like this are kids who couch-surf from place to place and have no job.  Their anti-establishment idealism of 'living life' versus being a 'slave' to the establishment seems to loosely cover, like Adam's fig leaf, a deeper shame of feeling lost and both unable and unwilling to find a place in this world.

But I understand the feeling.  I understand what it's like to feel like you belong nowhere.  And I certainly understand what it's like to feel like life is just a long sequence of pay-periods.  Everything revolves around paying your bills and keeping afloat, if you can.  But recently my son said something that was astounding.  He said, "I get it.  The reason why you work is so that you can have things and provide things so that you can enjoy them with the people you love."  That was one of my proud dad moments, for sure.  So could it be that when there is something greater to live for, you become willing to pay those bills that seem to be so restrictive?  Hmm...

The image above was used today in an online forum that advertizes people looking for used things things or selling used things.  One man, a younger man that seemed to come from the marijuana crowd, shared this image with all of us after being railed on by an older gentleman who basically told him to put down his pot pipe, stop looking for handouts, and find a job like everybody else. 

Both of these men revealed what they live for and what they believe freedom to be.  The younger man believes that freedom is about not being tied down.  That is "living."  So, he winds up looking for handouts and snubbing his nose at the establishment.  The older man believes that "freedom", if you can even call it that, is found in being a responsible, contributing member to society and to a family.  That's what "real living" is.  You get a job.  You work.  Someday you die.  That's a good life.  It may not be "free", but it is at least respectable.

Regardless of the fact that I lean toward the latter man's point of view, if for nothing else than the fact that his point of view seems far less self-centered, both of these points of view (as far as they are described here) are wrong.  And they are wrong and misguided for one simple reason:  Any ultimate worldview that seeks to establish a freedom and ultimate purpose in the things found in this world will ultimately fall upon itself.  It will fail, but before it does it will lead you to turn against your brother -as I saw today, two men bickering from opposite sides of the fence.

The bottom line is that if we live purely for this world, to create a heaven-on-earth by our own power, we will not only be disappointed... we will be fools.  What we call "living", no matter what formula or self-salvation scheme we apply, will be eventually shown to be futile.  It will die.  In other words, if you live for this age, everything you do -not matter how much it seems like living- is actually just drawn-out dying.  But if you live for the next age, the things of this age have less desperation to them.  They can be enjoyed for what they are because you aren't trying to squeeze life out of them.

Those who purely seek "living" in this age are dying.  In fact, they are already dead.  But those who know that this age is dying can live in it with gratitude and place their hope ahead, where life is to be found.

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