Episode 1. Its All About Me
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I used to think that, that …. Life’s all about winning. So you set out and okay we lose some and we win some. So we win. So what? Then what? I mean … what comes next? Do you see the point. If …
I used to think that, well …. life’s all about winning. So you set out and okay we lose some and we win some. So we win. So what? Then what? I mean … what comes next? Do you see the point? If life’s all about winning, then once we’ve won, where’s the satisfaction? Where’s the meaning in it tall?
Hey it’s great to kick off a new week together again today and we’re continuing in our journey from vanity to victory. What do I mean by that? Well last week, if you were able to join me, we kind of discovered a condition, a season we can all find ourselves travelling through at some stage. It’s this thing that happens when one day we wake up and we look at our lives, our lot in life, the way we labour away at whatever we labour away at, and like old King Solomon we ask ourselves, ‘What’s it all about? Why am I doing this stuff?’
And sadly Solomon, one of the wisest and wealthiest men on the planet, concluded;
Vanity of vanities, vanity of vanities. It’s all vanity. What do people gain from all the toil of which they toil under the sun?”
So in other words many a person comes to the conclusion that it just ain’t worth it, there’s no real purpose to life. So let’s just get out there and enjoy for tomorrow perhaps ’cause we might die soon.
I wonder as you examine your life what conclusion do you come to? Is it the one of vanity, like Solomon’s, just kind of drifting along there without any purpose? A life of vanity or is it a life of direction, of purpose and fulfilment? Well this week again on the program, as I said, whatever our starting point may be as we assess our lives we’re continuing on our journey from vanity to victory.
My generation, the baby boomers generation had a new name coined for us back in the 1960’s. We were called the “me” generation because in the post war economic boom times we kind of convinced ourselves that we could have it all. In fact in the middle of the cold war with the threat of nuclear annihilation ever present we decided that that not only could we have it all but we’d better live for today because there maybe no tomorrow.
And so what proliferated to fit with that psyche was a ton of consumer technologies. The electric razor, the electric hair rollers, the mix master, the toaster, all those gadgets, the car, let’s not forget the car and the television, they all happened to fit with the “have it all now mentality”, “have it all today” psyche of the ‘me’ generation.
Now kids, generation X, kind of reacted a bit against that. They saw their parents indulging their senses, they saw their parents getting divorced and losing everything and the pain that that caused and so the pendulum swung a little bit in the other direction for a while as they reacted against the gosh materialism which had apparently failed their parents generation.
But then along came generation Y whom we’ve so pampered with everything and every experience and every music lesson and every sporting thing. We’ve pampered them so much that the pendulum swung even more profoundly back in the direction of me, me and me.
I was listening to one expert, his name is Michael McQueen of the NexGen group speaking about his generation, generation Y and he said:
Look it’s not that we’re selfish, it’s just that we genuinely believe that we’re the centre of the universe. We genuinely believe that we are the most important thing because in the way you, our parents, have pampered us, that’s kind of what you’ve taught us.
That was kind of the gist of what he said. I guess that’s where we’re at and now consumer electronics, first the laptop but then more profoundly the ipod, the iphone, the ipad, and their various equivalents have focused the world even more keenly on I, I, I or me, me, me. What all these technologies tell us is that you can have the whole world in the palm of your hand. In fact not only can you have the whole world in your hand, you should have the whole world in your hand. That’s what’s normal these days, the world comes to you.
Now that’s the contemporary reality but there ain’t nothing new in that. All along people have worried about being first, being on top, being the winner, being the best, being the most recognised, being the numero uno, having the most. Even when it came to good things, have a listen to this fascinating exchange between Jesus and his disciples. I’m reading from Mark chapter 9 beginning at verse 33:
Then they came to Capernaum and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you guys arguing about on the way?’ But they were silent for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down and called the twelve and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’
Then he took a little child and put it among them and taking it in his arms he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me and whoever welcomes me welcomes not just me but the one who sent me’.
Love it! Love it! Love it! These guys, the Disciples, they weren’t baby boomers or gen X or gen Y but they had all the characteristics of the “me” generation didn’t they? They’re wandering around with the Son of God and all they can think about is themselves. Who was the greatest? Who was the best? Who was Jesus favourite? Who was numero uno in the pecking order after Jesus?
I mean, seriously. They were chasing after vanity, they were chasing after number-one and as we heard last week on the program from Solomon who had all power and all wealth, that left him feeling completely empty and hollow. Can I ask you something? What are you chasing after in your life right now? What are your priorities? What’s important to you? What are you working hard on?
Perhaps it’s to buy a better house for your family or to pay the mortgage down or to get a promotion at work, whatever. And of course none of those things are in and of themselves are bad but if they’re our priority in life, if that’s what life is all about for us, we can go along for a while like that but one day we’re going to wake up and ask ourselves, “What’s this all about? Why am I doing this stuff? What’s it mean? Where’s it going? Why am I not satisfied? Why am I not fulfilled? Surely there’s got to be more to life than this.”
Well as it turns out there is and that’s why the me, me, me focus simply will never satisfy us. One writer, S D Gordon, whom I love, describes it this way by commenting on whether the flow of stuff is inwards into our lives or outwards, out to others. This is what he writes:
’Into’ is the world’s preposition. Every stream turns in and that means a dead sea. Many a mans life is simply the coastline of a dead sea. ‘Out of’ are the Masters words, His thought is of others. The stream must flow in and must flow through if it is to flow out but it is judged by it’s direction and Jesus would turn it outward.
And that’s the very point Jesus is making to His disciples. The whole me, me, me thing is vanity, it’s meaningless, it’s empty, it doesn’t satisfy. If we follow the world’s lead of having everything flowing inwards to us our lives become the coastline of a dead sea. There’s no life in that place.
Do you get it? Jesus is saying. You want to be first, is that what you want to be? Well the only way that that works, the only way that you get satisfaction out of your life, the only way you have real impact in this world is by being the servant of all, by welcoming this little child. That’s where it’s at, that’s where victory is at, that’s what Jesus is trying to teach us.
It’s not about having stuff flowing in, it’s not about being first; it’s not about how much comfort and wealth and status and recognition you and I can have. It’s about what flows out and how we serve and that’s the place we discover fulfilment and contentment and victory.