I don’t mean to offend you but the idea of meaning is something that evades the modern, progressing, enlightened person.
This has a sense of irony about it. We all have an innate desire to be ‘more human’, the irony is that in the pursuit of becoming more human the opposite often occurs, especially when lured by a means under-girded with the prized scaffolding of ‘ultimate freedom’.
Secularism has redirected our eyes, teaching us to forego the ancient paths of discovering meaning in the transcendent, instead we are now transfixed on the immanent and the immediate and told that these will now suffice and steady us towards the same destination point, to become truly human…this is not working.
Humans need meaning, we are meaning people, we are story people and without satisfactory meaning there are obvious out-workings. We are also people in desperate need of community, we are connected but we no longer commune, we have commitment issues, no longer anxious about missing out (FOMO) but now we fear missing out on a better option (FOBO). We are also people who need certain freedoms, though in an ironic twist an excess in freedom has meant a deficiency in both community and meaning. Why? Because ultimate freedom does not bode well with the requirement that community and meaning has, that of being en-grafted in.
This is the point where Jesus followers must walk in an opposite direction to our secular friends.
Mark’s Gospel gives us a visual picture of how any person can become fully human. After much conflict, rejection and accusation from the leaders of the day Jesus begins a new approach in teaching, called parables (Mark 4:2). Jesus first parable addresses the situation at hand, identifying the underlying problem and then consequence of what happens when people do not listen to what Jesus is saying.
3 “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed.
That first word, “Listen”, is not Jesus trying to apprehend everyone’s attention, the people surrounding Jesus were well and truly attentive, no this is the subject matter of this all important parable, How you listen to the words of Jesus is everything!
And interestingly after this parable Jesus gives a picture of what is happening to a person when they refuse to listen –
so that, “ ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,and ever hearing but never understanding;otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’”
Its the picture of an idol, or an icon, a statue. Having eyes, it can’t see, having ears, it can’t hear, why? Its an idol. Jesus is giving a powerful picture of what happens when we refuse to listen to Him, we become less human, not more human.
Being en-grafted into God’s story, His complete story, from the outside looking in appears restrictive, even archaic. Freedoms are limited yet the paradox is that the limit in freedoms under Christ enable us to flourish, to function and to become fully human, enjoying and participating in the Grand narrative that our Good Heavenly Father has invited us to join Him in that –
Thy Kingdom Come and Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.’