Change how you think and watch life improve

February 6, 2023

Just scroll through any social media feed and within minutes you will find a guru offering you the keys to a better life for a small fee. Usually the focus will be a perceived weakness such as fitness or mental health. Perhaps over the years you will have bought into the hype and got the course or the book only to be left disappointed or no further ahead.

As humans, God wired us for purpose and unity but the trouble when shopping in this marketplace of ideas is that we can only pick up fragments, bits and pieces and we try to stick them together hoping that they will make a beautiful, coherent picture. As we stand back we find our lives resembling a piece of modern art. We give this masterpiece a catchy name to sound all post modern but it still looks like a dogs dinner. Your life is a mess.

This is how it is with western secular thought today. We have lost meaning and coherence because we have slowly abandoned a unifying biblical worldview over centuries, and the period of Christian consensus, at least for now is over. Francis Schaeffer, the Christian philosopher referred to this as the “line of despair” where the increasing fragmentation in the western mind between reason and faith ends up leading to loss of hope and nihilism.

Many of us, if we are honest must admit that something is a bit ‘off’. All this working, all this striving, all the owning of nice shiny things, and yet somehow despite the promises of the joy it would bring, we feel more empty than ever. How then do we answer the question of life?

What is a person to do?

Most do nothing, drowning their pain in consumption and distraction.

Some go to the spiritual buffet - where they take a little of this, and a little of that, to fashion a religion which embraces all but commits to nothing.

Others might fill the hole in their lives by launching into charitable and social justice activities, but eventually even these cease to satisfy, for if ultimately, we are accidentally formed, lumps of meat, hurtling through the galaxy to a certain and final death, everything is meaningless and Camus is right that the only serious “philosophical problem is suicide.”

What is the point being a christian and not thinking like one?

Despite being a Christian from a young age, for too long I was lukewarm at best which meant I also inhaled the despairing fumes of the society in which I lived. I knew the truth but didn't want to apply it to my life as there was a cost.

The Bible in Proverbs says, “As a man thinketh, so he is”. Well, in this case I plead guilty to being the 'bifurcated man' (divided in 2 parts), living in a dual thought world of the secular and sacred split - Faith kept in a box for Sundays and the rest of the week I adopted whatever worldviews were current in my professional and social circles.

For Christians this is a deeply unsatisfying way to live, but many of us fall into it naturally as we absorb our culture around us. On one hand, we know that the Gospel message is life-changing yet on the other we don’t let it change us. We hold something back.

I got stuck because Christianity appeared to answer the question of death and what comes next but what did it have to say about today? Without going over old ground, after several years fighting this, I have finally understood what was wrong. I wasn’t integrating what I believed with what I lived. 

4 questions to answer

1. Where do I come from? 

2. Why is there so much pain and tragedy in the world and what is to be done?

3. Why am I’m here?

4. Where I’m going? 

Many Christians, for whom, I’m writing these posts will have a confidence in answering questions one, two and four but may be hazy about the third or at least know the answer but not sure they like the implications. In a nutshell, we are saved to do good works. (note: NOT good works to get saved!). This will take many forms but it requires of us to be honest, truthful, generous, joyful and hard working. The focus is to be on the family and the community and it requires sacrifice.

So why are you here?

I wonder am I different to most as I have been thinking about this for as long as I can remember because I want to understand my purpose and the point of me. After many years of reflection our lives can be summed up by the word DUTY, but duty must have an underlying purpose or it is in vain. Why suffer the friction and discomfort if there is no point to life? 

Have you noticed that we no longer talk about duty, because this demands something of us which our new way of thinking can’t accommodate? Instead, we want to talk about ENTITLEMENT, but here is the interesting thing: for you to receive your entitlement, someone else has to do their duty. There is a tension in this and in the West, the entitlement bank account is well and truly overdrawn and the dutiful minority are getting tired. 

I wonder if over recent weeks as I have been railing against ‘Broken Britain’ is it that individuals have lost a sense of purpose. Covid lockdowns gave many time to question the point of their life, especially those of an older generation who found their nests well-feathered and with drive ebbing away  they concluded it was all rather meaningless.

This then begs the question, why should they endure unnecessary, discomfort? Why should they go the extra mile? Is an extra hour in work, for a heavily taxed tenner worth it, when they could sit at home eating Wotsits (Cheet-o’s) and watching Netflix. 

So my question to you is, where are you on the spectrum of purpose? Are you just here to hustle and get out of the system what you can? Or do you have a proper sense of why you are here? Is there a foundational, hopeful joy in your life?

Are you just here to hustle and get out of the system what you can?

While you may not subscribe to what I believe - of the four statements, I made above you need to answer all of them with a satisfactory outlook that can sustain you in the darkest hour.

Your worldview is like grease on the moving parts of your life - the better the quality, the smoother things will run and the less wear and tear the parts will endure. 

Right now I think, that for many their lives are being lubricated with a sand and water mix and they ignore the grinding noises and the heat because the mechanism still runs, but for how much longer before catastrophic failure.

Parting shot

How you think and what you think about has the most profound impact on the quality of your life. If you are despairing and life regularly tends towards chaos. These are clues that something isn't right. Take stock then take action in your thinking this is the starting point.