Dan’s Online Diary 

# 22.12.03 by Dan
Jack Campbell was a high-flying bachelor whose business deals involved moving billions of dollars - he had the best office, a luxurious New York apartment, a Ferrari, and any girl he wanted. He moved in circles where, beyond business, relationships consisted of meaningless banter, and passing comments.
One day, however, he wakes up in suburbia, a tyre salesman, with two kids and a minivan, married to the girlfriend he left 13 years ago. A parallel life of what could have been.
Jack comes to love this life, and so when the 'glimpse' of what might have been is gone and he is taken back to his real life - I cry.

Jack's life revolved around his company - making money - and he presumed that everyone else felt the same - keeping his employees busy with a crucial business deal on Christmas Eve, telling them that this was more important than their families.
He saw families and serious relationships as a burden and a weakness.
But after his glimpse, when he returns to his bachelor life, he mourns for his family that could have been. And he sees the admirable qualities in others that go beyond his own desires for the success of his company and therefore himself.

You may have seen the movie - it screened on television last night - Nicholas Cage as "The Family Man".

As anything should, it made me think.

We are not individuals. No way.
The concept of individuality has been hammered into our souls, but like a square peg into a round hole - it doesn't fit.
I recently read somewhere that it has only been since the invention of the printing press that people have begun to consider themselves as individuals. Prior to this, one was always considered as a part of a whole, as a member of a family, the church, a guild etc.
But now, with the hurricane of human rights hitting us head-on everywhere we turn, it is every man for himself.
What is best for you?
What makes you feel good?
Where will you be in 10 years?
What do you have to show for your efforts?

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent."
-- John Donne

Being a human being is not about being oneself, even if you're really good at it. Our meaning and purpose can really only be realised in the context of community - ongoing interaction with others.

The realisation of the importance of our relationships with others produces a reaction such as we see in Jack Campbell, when, after he is returned to his proper life, he goes looking for his old girlfriend, with the desire to start what they should have started 13 years earlier, and with the potential outcome as per the temporary experience he recently lived through. This response is excellent and good, and the movie provokes this response in those who view it - that is the point of the movie, I believe. We can feel the desire to be a part of something that is bigger than our own individual lives.

But ultimately it still means nothing - you are born alone(unless you're a twin) and you die alone. Why bother with all the effort if even our relationships die and are forgotten with our passing?
In reality you cannot get past this futility and find any meaning in life without looking beyond our life times - with an eternal perspective.

We are born with eternity in our hearts.
How do we know this?
- by nature, we are afraid of death. The desire to preserve one's self is very strong indeed. This is a fear of the unknown - we know in our hearts that there is more to death than simply rotting away in a grave. If it were that simple, all too many of us would welcome death as a huge relief. But yet we do not, and are afraid.
- mankind has invented religion. What is the point in seeking out anything beyond ourselves if it indeed does not exist? Where does this desire for eternal security come from?

We have within us, from birth, an inherent ability to relate with others. This is due to the fact that we are created in the image of One who also desires relationships.
Also, because the image in which we are created, we have eternity set in our hearts.

We automatically develop a relationship with every single person with whom we interact - even if it is but a single brief encounter. Good relationships develop through good experiences shared, while bad relationships develop through conflict between the two.

In my thoughts, it comes down to this. God has created us, with the ability and desire to relate, and with an eternal perspective. Since he has created us, we are automatically in a relationship with Him, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.
Sin, however, is also inherent in us from birth, a legacy left for us by our first parents, as a result of their disobedience to their(our) Creator. This sin afflicts every aspect of our being, and causes us to respond, by default, in any way that is in opposition to our Creator. So you see, this develops into a bad relationship with God.
This presents us with two problems:
1. God is Holy (ie: without sin) and we cannot be restored into a right relationship with Him while there is even a speck of sin in our lives. There is nothing we can do of our own accord or effort to restore this relationship while we are sinful.
2. God is just, and, according to His nature, must exact punishment for sin. Payment must be made.

What is simply incredible is that God continues to honour His relationship with us. He has provided the perfect solution to the problems above. He sent His only Son to live here on earth among us, and to die.
Problem 1 is resolved, because His Son, Jesus Christ, lived as no man could - without sin. And that sinless life is given to us, that we might be clothed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before His throne on the last day (you all know it is coming - because you all know there is more after death).
Problem 2 is resolved, as, in the death of His Son upon the cross, God placed all the punishment for our sins on His shoulders, as the ultimate, once-and-for-all sacrifice for our sins.
But the grave could not hold Him, and he rose again, three days after His crucifixion, having conquered the powers of both sin, and death.
And our Creator, God, calls us His children - His adopted co-heirs with His son, Jesus Christ. We are His holy people, His church - in the fullest sense, members of the body of Christ.
Where is the individuality, apart form the fact that He loves each and every one of His people?
So - our mission and purpose is now clear - we live to honour Him who has saved us. Our chief purpose is to exalt Him and enjoy Him for ever - in a perfect and eternal relationship.

But more specifically, how do we accomplish this?
Through service.
We must serve one another in love, even unto death, as per the example of the perfect life of Christ.
Discipling others, through service, into a relationship with Him who loves us.

This is what we are called to do, and in this context will we experience the true joy, peace and eternal happiness that we are all seeking after.

Forget about yourself, you can't save yourself. If you work for your own ends, you will be left to die with nothing, cut off from all that is good for the remainder of eternity.
Work then as the united body of Christ, for the purposes of the Lord, in loving, self-sacrificing relationships of service will you store up treasure in the eternal domain - treasure of value unprecedented here on earth.
Every moment counts.