Share the bread

AFTER he survived Auschwitz and Dachau, Viktor Frankl wrote the profoundly powerful “Man’s Search for Meaning.’’

In a world of unimaginable brutality, Frankl witnessed starving people sharing their bread. He wrote: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing … to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.’’

We are meaning-seeking creatures. Hopefully, somewhere along the journey we figure out that meaning is not something we find, it’s something we create. The meaning you create and the contribution you make depend on how much time you spend sitting and how much time you spend sharing your bread.

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17 thoughts on “Share the bread

  1. So, if we create meaning instead of finding it, does that equate to a belief that life really has no meaning, and so we try to make some instead?

    Surely the meaning of life must be either 1. Living in harmony with God, or 2. Whatever you make it.

    “The ‘whatever you make it’ answer has much to offer, as meaning is found in so many of life’s activities – in friends and lovers and children and nature and awards and art and careers; in goals set and talents released; in service to others and dreams achieved.”

    It is no guarantee for happiness though.

    I don’t know about you, but God gives my life meaning— John 6:35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

    First , God invites us into his life. God is an abundant bounty of spiritual life. We were created to have this life inhabiting us as a spring fills a well, as a fire fills a fireplace or as God indwelt the temple (see 1 Corinthians 6:19).

    But with humankind’s original rebellion, we severed this source of life. Now a vacant space lies at the centre of our hearts – the well has lost its spring, the fireplace has lost its fire, the temple has lost its God – leaving us hollow and meaningless. The New Testament uses two Greek words for ‘life’: bios , meaning natural created life, and zoé , meaning God’s eternal supernatural life. We can have bios but not zoé. We can be biologically alive but spiritually dead.

    But then a man came forth from Galilee. ‘In him was zoé,’ it was said of him (John 1:4). ‘I have come that they may have zoé,’ he said of himself (John 10:10). ‘Whoever believes in me…’ he promised, ‘streams of living water will flow from within him’ (John 7:38). He would fill our souls with light and bring the Father to dwell within us (John 1:9; 8:12; 14:23). Jesus came to unleash the spring in the well, to put the fire back into the fireplace, to bring the indwelling God back into the temple of our hearts. And with God’s eternal, supernatural life within us, the ordinary can become splendorous.

    Second , God invites us into his story. This story begins with a God who creates a good world teeming with creatures, flowers and light, with his image-bearing humans as his co-workers. It continues with a great rebellion unleashing evil, pain, frustration and disorder into the world. A recovery mission is launched, God calling the nation of Israel to be his light to the world, a mission which climaxes in God visiting earth himself, accepting our taunts, ridicule and crucifixion, then rising from death to offer forgiveness of sins and restoration of life. The story ends with this restoration complete – in a new world of fulfilled longings, healed wounds, radiant beauty and restored harmony (Isaiah 35; 65:17–25; Revelation 21–22).

    This story gives us context, and context helps us interpret our everyday experience. The order and beauty of the world make sense within this story, as does our longing for love and our desire to find a meaningful role in life. They are part of God’s creational design. The horrors of war, famine, greed and corruption are given some context. They are intruders and never meant to be here. Our deep desire to see wrongs righted and evil cease makes sense – and is graced with hope. This world is not as it should be, but one day will be under God’s restorative work through Jesus. Outside of this story life is a random, meaningless thing indeed.

    Third , God invites us into his activity. He is on the move, pushing this story towards its conclusion – inviting people into his life, transforming them and, through them, society. We then become God’s ‘apprentices in eternal living’ as Dallas Willard puts it – learning to be responsive to God as he works in us ‘to will and to act according to his good purpose’ (Philippians 2:13).

    God gives us a special part to play within his unfolding story – a role, a calling, a mission, an assignment. His life within us provides power for such tasks; his spiritual gifts give us ability. Through us he speaks, heals, comforts, reconciles, encourages, leads, teaches. Through us he feeds, clothes, plants, warns, forgives, protests, loves. It is an awesome thing to participate in God’s work. Could a finer way to meaning and purpose exist?

    So with this in mind, let me suggest a revised answer to life’s ultimate question ‘The Search For Meaning’. For the Christian, the meaning of life is to live with God – a God who invites us into his life, his story and his activity.

    Each month, around 550,000 people type ‘meaning of life’ into Google. And they’re not all looking for the Monty Python film. Does life have any meaning? they ask, perhaps in a moment of disappointment or despair. Does my life have any meaning? As a quick read of Ecclesiastes reminds us, believers face these questions too. But even the Teacher of Ecclesiastes, having trialled the very answers today’s seekers will quickly find online – that life is meaningless, a mystery, or to be made meaningful somehow (see Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:1-8) – concluded that God was the key to the riddle (12:1,13).

    For, ultimately, the meaning of life is to live with God. This God invites us into his life, his story and his activity. He can make the mundane meaningful, the ordinary splendorous, and even work ‘magic out of manure’ as he redeems life’s disappointments.”

    http://www.christianitymagazine.co.uk/Browse%20By%20Category/features/TheSearchForMeaning.aspx

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  2. You remind me on communist propaganda Monica. You talk about things I doubt you ever experienced and pass lot of judgements.
    Let me remind you that the author was Jewish. As such he never probably recognized Jesus as the majority of Jew didn’t.
    Secondly he was exposed to extreme situations where his life was threatened every moment he was living in the concentration camp.
    How can you possibly understand his and the others situation? Flaming words of having purpose in god doesn’t fit here. The very fact that these people were still able to show human likeness is greatness in itself. And prove the were connected to god.

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    • What are you talking about fossall?

      My post was not an attack or judgment against Viktor Frankl at all. I haven’t read his book but I’d love to, and I totally loved Bryan’s thread to share our bread. In fact it touched my heart.

      But I did ask a question. Perhaps I did not word it properly. As a Christian, I always thought that we are supposed to find meaning in life, not create it. I was thinking and questioning Bryan’s choice of word; that’s all. And I am positive that Bryan would not be offended by that. In fact I know that he delights in getting us to think…..and he did just that. And then I came across Sheridan Voysey’s article in the link I posted above, and loved it because it glorifies God—and that is all I wish to do.

      Fossall, I do not wish to upset you but it seems to me that I am a stench in your nostrils. Perhaps you need to think about why that is.

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      • You’re right on Mon.
        And Fossall, I know Monica as one of the most beautiful and generous hearts you could ever meet. She is also a thinker and not deserving of being accused of propaganda. She also doesn’t need me to defend her…but I will anyway.

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      • Just me thinking. We are all at different places in our journey. Like following paths up a mountain. We are all headed for the summit, but sometimes on opposite sides of the mountain, and quite different paths, and no way of knowing if anyone is higher than anyone else.

        The paths we are on are where God has put us. I can’t possibly say ‘You are on the wrong path,’ just ‘You are not on my path’.

        Despite that, we are not out of contact with each other, can still love each other. Actually that’s probably all we can do.

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      • Thanks so much BB.

        You know, there have been so many times over the years that God has had to remind me to “fan the flame of His love in my heart”. But He doesn’t have to in this time and season of my faith journey. No, on the contrary, I feel as though I am going to burst with the love that I feel for this wonderful God of ours. And it is at these times that I cannot keep silent, for every fibre of my being burns for God and Him alone. If I don’t let it out……..

        Love you

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      • You see Bryan,

        This is how I know our God lives. I just this minute received this email as I was about to turn the computer off and go about my daily work:

        What God Seeks

        “More than one’s ministry, God seeks our love. His great commandment is that we love Him, ultimately, with all our mind, all our heart, and all our soul and strength. If we love Him, we will fulfill all He requires of us (John 14:15). And it is as we love Him that He orchestrates all things to work together for our good (Rom. 8:28).

        Beloved, loving God is not hard. We can fulfill any assignment — auto mechanic or housewife, doctor or college student — and still give great pleasure to our heavenly Father. We do not need ministry titles to love the Lord. Indeed, God measures the value of our lives by the depth of our love. This is what He requires of all true God-seekers: to love Him where we are at.

        Lord Jesus, the revelation of Your love has swept me off my feet. Lord, You have drawn me and I run after You. Master, even in the mundane things of life, I shall express my love for You. Consume me in Your love.” …..from ‘Francis Frangipane Ministries’

        Oh God….I’m floating on air again. 🙂

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  3. Perhaps we create much in our lives, in the way of attitudes, in the way we present to others, in the mask we use to hide our faults, and in the meaning we choose to elevate to importance.

    Even in following the Christian message, various saints have created different meanings in their own lives, serving God in different ways. Nor can we say that atheists have no meaning in their lives! Untenable.

    But create or find, who knows? I don’t think it matters.

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    • ‘Create’ or ‘find’, the two obviously go hand-in-hand—you can’t have one without the other—at least that’s the conclusion I’ve come to whilst thinking about this subject.

      And I don’t think anyone is saying that atheists have no meaning in their lives Strewth.

      “But it is a fact that many atheists think that the question “what is the meaning of life?” is just as silly as asking “what is the meaning of a cup of coffee”, and do not believe that life has any meaning or purpose, nor that it requires one: it simply is.”……from Arguments for Atheism

      And what about this question: “If God does not exist and there is no life after death, then is there any ultimate meaning, value, or purpose in life? In an atheistic scenario, we as human beings are simply Johnny-come-lately biological accidents on an insignificant speck of dust we call Earth which is hurtling through empty space in a meaningless and random universe that will eventually die a cold heat death. In the big scheme of things, we are no more significant than a swarm of mosquitoes. In a universe where there is no God and no afterlife, our actions are meaningless and serve no final end because ultimately each one of us, along with everyone we know and influence, will die and enter oblivion. There is no difference between living the life of a saint or a sociopath, no difference between a Mother Theresa and an Adolf Hitler. Mention of morality is simply incoherent babbling. William Lane Craig frequently refers to this as “the absurdity of life without God.” He states,

      Without God the universe is the result of a cosmic accident, a chance explosion. There is no reason for which it exists. As for man, he’s a freak of nature—a blind product of matter plus time plus chance. If God does not exist, then you are just a miscarriage of nature, thrust into a purposeless universe to live a purposeless life…the end of everything is death…In short, life is utterly without reason…Unfortunately, most people don’t realize this fact. They continue on as though nothing has changed.

      “It seems to me that any sensible person who honestly reflects on the absurdity of life without God cannot at the same time remain apathetic toward the question of God’s existence. God’s existence matters and has tremendous implications for our own existence. Life’s absurdity without God should bother us. It should keep us awake at night. It should jar us out of our apathetic attitude and challenge us to seek answers to life’s ultimate issues.”

      http://pleaseconvinceme.com/2013/apathy-atheism-and-the-absurdity-of-life-without-god/

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      • Hi Mon, Strewth, Bryan,
        Yep, I can see a point to what you are saying about humans having meaning in their lives only when they carry the conviction that there is a god; but this God that you worship has as well put an enormous amount of ‘effort’ you would have to say in creating the universe, the birds, fish, animals, insects, bacterium etc. (Equally or more perhaps in view of the inconceivable multitudes of them in comparison to humans) Now they dont have any prospect, most people believe, of any eternal life that would grant them meaning in the same way. BUT THEY ARE HERE just as I am. My cats and ‘your’ dogs contribute meaning to our lives, of course.

        Now I am not an atheist as I’ve made clear many a time herein, and I do bear a strong faith in a continuation of life following this earthly one. But actually I never ever think about whether my life has eternal ‘meaning’ or not. The issue just never troubles me at all, and in fact i just cant see the point of it. I guess that I take something of the stance of the atheist about the matter and just endeavour to make this immediate life a thing that has meaning, and heaven knows that is a project that constantly gives challenges. If by any chance I dont survive in any state of consciousness after this lifetime, so what? Doesnt trouble me a bit.

        What is most important to me in the matter, is that I do my best to contribute to the world as best I can while I’m ‘here’; and that doesnt have meaning TO OR FOR ME, but will be creating meaning out of me for the rest of creation in the things around me, whether I think about it or not. This is probably the Pantheist in me coming out.
        Rian.

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      • Rian, I would agree with you if we were talking about the meaning OF life, but that’s not the way I read the original. Perhaps rather a meaning to, or in, life – a purpose.

        I suppose for any living creature the basic purpose is survival, but beyond that we create or find something more. And that doesn’t require religion, as we have seen some great humanitarian atheists. But of course if we have a religious faith, that will influence what we create or find.

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      • Rian, I would agree with you if we were talking about the meaning OF life, but that’s not the way I read the original. Perhaps rather a meaning to, or in, life – a purpose.

        I suppose for any living creature the basic purpose is survival, but beyond that we create or find something more. And that doesn’t require religion, as we have seen some great humanitarian atheists. But of course if we have a religious faith, that will influence what we create or find.

        I would say you both right if we assume there is wring or right. Life here is constant creation. As we think and react we perpetually create our daily reality. If we say this is wrong and go to war about our “right” we create friction and reaction in the other person. We in disagreement. If we allow that the other person have just different view than we have and don’t go into battle about our own view, we allowing her / him the freedom to have another opinion without conflict. The question if there is god, if everything was created and how will change for all of you. You will discover more as you look deeper into your being. Lot more. Maybe not in this life, maybe not even in ten lives after this, how long it may take doesn’t matter. But one thing is for sure, you will make discoveries you can’t believe now. Your level of faith makes no difference.

        Life in here is ongoing process. We are evolving. Why and how is matter of awareness of who you think you are.

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      • ” In an atheistic scenario, we as human beings are simply Johnny-come-lately biological accidents on an insignificant speck of dust we call Earth….”

        Yep humbling thought isn’t it.

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  4. Recently I read something about human psychological development, which speaks to the create/find question.

    This is generalising, of course. We all know people who don’t follow this pattern.

    Our first knowledge of ourselves is all self centred. Then we become the person our parents and environment encourage.

    We grow out of this and ‘create’ a new persona. We decide who we want to be.

    Then a mid-life crisis hits. It changes our lives, and changes us. It forces us to be the person who can benefit from lessons to learn. We ‘find’ who we really are.

    In old age we can review what our life has been. Have we learned what was given us?

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