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
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
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.
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.
out his blog: To Build A Fire.