Pop culture is full of sermons. Dead Poet’s Society taught my generation to carpe deim. This might be the only phrase I remember from 2 years of high school Latin. We were taught by Rudy that if we try hard enough that we can accomplish anything, including playing for a second rate college football program like Notre Dame. Hoosiers, Sea Biscuit, and almost any other sports movie ever made laud the achievements of the hard trying underdog. In our society we eat this sort stuff up. Frankly, I have just named 4 of my favorite movies, Notre Dame bias aside.
These movies teach us some really good things. We need to see each moment as an opportunity to do something great. We need to press beyond the artificial boundaries that we all seem to be limited by each day. We need to hear sometimes that we should ignore the people who bring us down or tell us we cannot do something. We need to hear that greatness comes from the heart. These are all good points and worth considering. I am still left with a question, “Why?”
Why should we attempt to excel at all areas of our lives? In Dead Poet’s Society the teacher played by Robin Williams says that his students must seize the day because eventually they are all worm food. Um, I hate to be critical, but he basically told his students that the achievements of the past are mostly doomed to anonymity, and somehow this inspired them to read poetry. I tried to like poetry one time, but I guess I am just not that sophisticated.
When I reflect on my existential crisis, I come to a decidedly different conclusion. Most of the people reading this probably have a similar world view to me, in that we believe that we live for a greater hope. We live for a greater purpose.
I have been reflecting on what I want my life to be about. The vain part of me wants to be remembered for being the best at everything! I want to all of you to look at me and think if only I could be that guy. However, the logical implication of this is that my life would be lived only to serve my own ego. It would mean that my story ends with me. That is it, and Robin Williams would ultimately be right, I would end up being worm food. This kind of life would lead to resignation not inspiration. It reminds only me of the vanity and meaningless of life.
The Lord tells a different story. He says that my life has tremendous meaning. He tells me that what I do does not end with me; rather it has eternal consequences that reach far beyond what I could possibly imagine. There is one caveat though. I must realize that my life is ultimately not about me. I must live to find my place in a larger story. I am not the main character in the great narrative of life. Jesus is. When he becomes the main character, everything I do takes on eternal significance. Every small, insignificant action takes on eternal meaning.
Hebrews 11 tells us of the wall of faith. The one thing that all these people have in common is that the story did not end with them. The story is yet to be fully told. We need to live always pointing to the great unfinished business of redemption. One day the Lord will come back and finish the story. But until then we must tell our “by faith” story. We must live in obedience to our role in the story. Our lives might ultimately be forgotten. Our legend might fade. But we can sow the seeds of eternal significance.
Hebrews 12:1-2 reminds us that we are running a race. We do not look for victory, but we look to Jesus the “author and perfecter of our faith.” We are not destined to be worm food, we are destined for glory. Let us live up to that glory. Let us live in the greatest story ever told and live in anticipation of the final conclusion of that story.