February/March 2014 - Vol. 72

.Discovering Our True Destiny
by Stephen Bick

One thing about being a Christian is that you have a destiny. Every piece of the world has a function and a design, and among those pieces are each and every human being, all of whom have the terrifying, end-weighted privilege of discovering (not creating) what they are for, what the meaning of their life is, and what to do about it. 

Meaning & purpose
What is this meaning, and this purpose? Love! 

I hear eyes rolling, so a definition and a defense. Love is a terrifically vague word – is it a feeling (I’m in love) or an action (I will always love you)? Does it have something to do with sex? Is friendship love, or a different kind of love? 

This says a lot about the English language and the culture that bred it. We’re very good at poetry, but not very good at philosophy. The Greeks had at least four words for love and one of them, agape, meant something very vague until it was essentially reclaimed by Paul and used to mean the action of self-giving, like the love of Christ for the Church. 

An excellent short definition by J Budzizewski states that love [agape] is ‘to will the true good of another person.’ Good entails their flourishing, their happiness – not just a vague niceness, or even being liked by the other person, but truly having their best interests at heart. 

This may seem boring or reductive, but a clue that it isn’t either can be found in the variety of good people in fiction and history (Atticus Finch [character from To Kill a Mockingbird] and St Francis of Assisi are superlatively different, but one doesn’t seem to be more good than the other but good in different ways) and in the difficulty of knowing how to actually show love to someone. 

The myriad ways – encouraging speech, gifts, sticking up for them privately – show the diversity of goodness, and how it grows. Usher’s lyric “There are so many ways to love you” is cringe-worthy because you know that he can only think of one.

Discovering who you are
So, while “Loving God and other people” is the final answer, the meaning of life, this is fantastically diverse, more different by far from person to person than appearance, and a big part of the adventure of the Christian life is discovering who you are, what aspects of goodness you see most clearly, and launching into them with aplomb, in order to become yourself. 

Many Christians are perhaps overly focused on the ‘state of life’ side of this – am I called to be married or to be single? – And understandably so, but this is just a part of the whole of ourselves we must discover, we shouldn’t just stop here. 

It seems clear to me from the course of my life, and my love of it, that a big part of my call is to point, to herald, to announce the Lord in all his glory, and maybe this is why I like the season of Advent so much, because it says ‘stay awake, hope, watch, because He is coming!’, because it says what I want my life to say. 

Even though the season of Advent is over, it speaks of human nature: the transcendant longing that everyone experiences and, since I know who the longing is for, must communicate this to people. That’s the starting point that I have now, and enough to get on with.

Stephen Bick lives in Cambridge, UK, where he studying at Cambridge University for a BA in music. He is a choral scholar at Gonville and Caius college, and in his free time is getting involved with Christian life on campus. Stephen grew up in London, UK and has been actively involved in Kairos and Antioch Community. 

Check out his blog: To Build A Fire. .

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