In 1980, a movie theater poster asked “Terrorized in the toilets? Chased after school? Shaken down for your lunch money?” The posters then suggested: “Get a bodyguard!” The movie those statements advertised was titled My Bodyguard, and it was about a teenage boy named Clifford. The movie began with Clifford being bullied at school. Then one day, another student named Ricky rescued him. Everyone was afraid of Ricky because he was said to have killed several people, including his brother. That gave Clifford an idea. He offered to pay Ricky to protect him. Ricky declined. But then they became friends, and Ricky began to protect Clifford anyway.
I grew up in New Jersey. By the time I graduated high school, I had only traveled outside the state a few times. At college, I was assigned a roommates from Maryland and Zimbabwe. Since I hadn’t traveled much, it would be logical to assume I would have had an easier time becoming friends with the guy from Maryland. But that wasn’t the case. The guy from Maryland had been raised in a Christian home, but was only there to get a business degree so he could make money. He didn’t even want to be at a Christian college, but that is where his parents were willing to foot the bill. The guy from Zimbabwe had also been raised in a Christian home, and was also there for a business degree. But he was there to learn how God could use him to help the people in his country start businesses, develop economically, and rise up out of poverty. Since I also saw my degree as a tool for making a difference in the world, you can guess which one became a friend.
As you may know, we have a “houseguest” named Jack. Jack is staying with us because one of Jonathan’s friends lost his apartment. When Jonathan found out about Jack’s plight, he asked if I could find him a temporary home. I was more than willing to do so. After all, it wouldn’t cost me anything; all I would have to do is type up a post on Facebook. After no one offered to help, Jonathan mad a second request that could cost me something: “Could Jack stay with us?” The reason that request could cost me wasn’t that Jack’s food would be expensive. The cost would be the chaos that might ensue since we already had two cats who might not take kindly to a “houseguest,” as well as an 80 pound Lab who might intimidate a 12 year old cat.
Last Fall a television show titled God Friended Me made its debut. In the pilot episode, a man named Miles received a Facebook friend request from someone claiming to be God. He declined the request several times before relenting and adding “God” to his friends list. When he did so, God began suggesting people for Miles to friend. As Miles looked into each one, he discovered that each person had a need. Each need led Miles to a new adventure. And each new adventure led to unexplainable and mysterious things happening that made Miles wonder if maybe there really is a God who has a plan for us, and if we really are all part of some grand design.
This past Sunday night, we had our first Alpha meeting. It was titled Is There More To Life Than This?, and it showed Nicky Gumble speaking about his life, and how as he grew up he was always looking forward to “the next new thing.” When he was in the lower grades at school, he said he looked forward to being in the higher grades. When he reached the higher grades, he said he looked forward to graduating. And when he graduated, he said he looked forward to getting a job. At each stage, he said he was hoping “the next new thing” would bring meaning to his life. But it never did. It would initially bring satisfaction and excitement, but he said the glow would wear off, and it wouldn’t result in long term meaning. The reason is that “the next new thing” we set our sights on in our search for meaning is often just another a temporary achievement or fleeting experience, while we were created for eternity. To find lasting meaning in life, we need to therefore orient our lives toward eternal things, and in particular our eternal purpose.