Conversations on the meaning life

(Sean Joyner) #1

Hi all!

I’m on my last week of the RZIM Academy Core Module and in looking at how to further engage in the four main areas we focus on: Origin, Meaning, Morality, and Destiny, I find my myself having difficulty in conversation to talk about specifically the meaning of life with others.

Being a millenial this is a big question for a lot of my peers with many of them feeling hopeless are that all of their pursuits leave them feeling empty. I want to have some dialogue about what Jesus offers us in terms of meaning but am just not sure what some good approaches or scriptural references I can use to further engage on this particular topic.

Your ideas and suggestions are greatly appreciated!

(SeanO) #2

@sjoyner Sean, great question! Tim Keller breaks down the reasons someone is attracted to Christianity (or any worldview) into the 3 categories listed below. I’ve posted a video of Keller reaching out to millennials at a Google talk at the bottom because I think he does a great job in his approach and it is worth watching to learn from him.

  • intellectual / rational
  • personal / emotional
  • social / community

In my opinion, I think the first thing to do is identify the best way to reach the people you know. I think for many people, social and emotional reasons open the door for the intellectual. For others, the intellectual open the door for the social and rational. I think it is important to know what type of person you are dealing with - since stereotypes about millennials do not apply to everyone.

Here are two articles, one from Cru and one from the Gospel Coalition, on reaching millennials. I thought Chen made a great point that, at least in general, millennials are interested in the implications of the Gospel for their life now.

“We talk about the kingdom of God as being “now, but not yet.” Jesus both defeated death and He’s coming back to fully unite heaven and earth. We’ve tended to focus on His coming back. But I think millennials are drawn to the “now” aspects. Millennials are drawn to these now aspects because of the anxiety they feel in the moment and because they long to see the world made whole. So without watering down the gospel, we can also talk about salvation as being now, and that Jesus is healing us and remaking us into our true selves in Christ. This resonates with millennials.” Josh Chen

All of that said, what do I think would be a good approach with your friends who are feeling hopeless? I think a great way to begin to reach them is to first ask them a question and then listen very intently to their response. Listening well will earn you the right to speak after they are done sharing their heart. Here are a few questions you may consider:

  • What would make your life meaningful?
  • Have you ever thought about turning to God in your struggle?
  • Why do you think you feel empty like that?

You may be able to think of better questions for your friends since you know them. But I think after you listen well you can respond with this type of Scriptural statement:

I hear you man. You know an Israelite prophet once said that the people of his nation were looking for water in cracked cisterns. But think about it - if we put water in a cup with a crack in the bottom we’re left with an empty cup. And my experience is that when I try to fill my life with things other than God, I feel just like that empty cup. They leave me thirsty.

Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are thirsty and I will give you living water.” Jesus said He is the water of life.

[Your turn to boldly proclaim what Jesus has done in your life]

Jeremiah 2:13 - “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

I think we must remember not to be ashamed of the Gospel. It is the same Gospel that saves yesterday, today and forever. And your testimony is powerful. But at this point you need to be prepared to answer your friends’ questions - this is where apologetics comes in.

Is that helpful? Always pray before for God to open doors in your conversations. May the Lord Jesus give you wisdom and open the eyes of your friends’ hearts to know His love and glory!

Need wisdom
(Sean Joyner) #3

@SeanO thank you for the very detailed response! This definitely gives me some good direction. I 100 percent can see how listening intently and really focusing on the other person coupled wit prayer can allow God to introduce opportunities for fruitful dialogue. I think I’ll start with the questions you presented and your examples on how to present some scripture gives me a good guideline to use other Word the Holy Spirit gives me.

Although I’ve been a Christian for a while now I’m just starting to really take more seriously my responsibility to share Christ with others. The RZIM really has been a tremendous encouragement and help! Thank You!

(SeanO) #4

@sjoyner Indeed! I too am very thankful for the ministry of RZIM. I am so encouraged by your desire to share Christ with your friends! May the Lord grant you wisdom, tact and courage as you reach out to them and may they be open to receiving the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge! Let us know how it goes and feel free to ask any follow up questions.

(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #5

Hello @sjoyner. Congratulations on your last week! I pray that the Lord would help you grow more in the faith and in your love for the saints. :slight_smile:

I like your question. It’s something that I’m still learning. I’m not sure how I would package my answer, since this is broad, but I hope that what I would contribute would help.

In terms of meaning, there are many things you could talk with them about meaning. Aside from the meaning of life, you could talk about the sense of wonder, appreciation or beauty we have in creation. Like why are we this way? Why do we long for pleasure, happiness, or beauty? Why is there displeasure, sadness, and ugliness? You can talk about truth. Is there such a thing as truth? Is truth relevant in our lives? You can talk about love. Like why do we love? Why do we long to be known and loved by another? Why do we do some sacrificial things for someone, even if it’ll cost us our lives? Or about what you said, you can talk about hope. You can ask them what are they hoping for? Then you can ask them why they hope for it.

An approach you could do is basically ask them their views about these topics that fit in the category of meaning, and be interested in their answers, even if you feel you know it already. Just hear them out! You could use real life analogies to help them understand further the concepts in your discussion. For example, Jordan Thyer just had a talk in our country about God’s revelation. He used his puppy being excited when he opens the fridge, since the puppy hopes to be able to drink his favorite milk. Then proceeded in using it as an analogy if we are excited about God’s Word like that puppy. In terms of the category of meaning, like in terms of where people get their feeling of their sense of security, you can use the seatbelt as an analogy, or life insurance, etc. Asking them about their views would open doors for you to be able to share what Christ has to offer. Listening intently will help you be able to use words that they would best understand and appreciate to get what you’re saying.

Aside from real life analogies, if you do something together with your peers, like video games, TV shows, movies, etc., you can use a particular thing in there as an analogy.

Scriptural references would depend on what you’re talking about though. If you’re talking about your longings, you can cite Jesus giving living water in John 4. Or if you’re talking about beauty, you can talk about David wanting to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD in Psalm 27. The passages have specific contexts, which will help you correct whatever wrong notions a person has regarding a specific topic in the category of meaning.

God’s truth indeed will satisfy our existential meanderings. Talk to them that they’ll wish what you’re saying is true, then show them that it does! :slight_smile: