|Morning in Munson Park (Monroe)|
This is the apostle Paul's transcendent reason for existing. He says:
I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:24)
Followers of Jesus exist for something beyond the flourishing of their own selves. In Paul's case, the meaning of life was to bring others to an understanding of the meaning of life, as realized in the atmosphere of God's grace-saturated kingdom.
Christianity's beautiful truth is: To flourish, aim beyond yourself.
Many fail to comprehend this, and live relegated to the immanent goal of self-gratification. This is supported by philosopher Charles Taylor, in his monumental analysis of secular culture. Taylor shows how secular culture is "one on which the eclipse of all goals beyond human flourishing becomes conceivable; or better, it falls within the range of an imaginable life for masses of people." (Taylor, A Secular Age, pp. 19-10)
Thus, many Americans choose to live primarily for their own flourishing, aiming at nothing more than their own happiness. They launch an arrow that goes 'round the world, striking themselves in the back of their head. Which, in what may be our culture's supreme irony, does not produce happiness. (Happiness is a wonderful byproduct, and a horrible goal.)
My new book is: Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.