One day, somebody asked Jesus to arbitrate in a legal dispute between him and his brother. Jesus wasn’t interested in getting involved in their squabbles over an inheritance, but He did tell a story about a farmer at harvest time.
The harvest had been exceptional and this farmer found himself with more crops to store than his barns could hold. Without hesitation, he decided to tear down his existing barns and build bigger ones in their place. He swelled with pride and said to himself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”1
But then he heard a still, small voice: “You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?”2
The farmer in this parable led a life that would have seemed successful and meaningful to everyone who looked at him. But Jesus pointed out that everything the farmer owned was temporary, and he would soon discover that he had nothing at all.
In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the titular character comes to a similar bleak realization. In Act 5, Scene 5, he has just heard that the queen is dead and he knows his own death is imminent. He delivers his famous soliloquy: “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage / And then is heard no more. It is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury / Signifying nothing.”
Like the farmer in Jesus’ parable, all Macbeth’s successes have no eternal value, and at the end of his road, he can’t find lasting meaning in any of his actions.
Everyone wonders if their life has meaning, and if so, how to find it. It’s a question that is sometimes asked in despair, sometimes out of cynicism, and often out of sincere curiosity and a desire to have meaningful goals and guidance in life.
Jesus understood this basic need of humankind for meaning and purpose, and He gave the secret in a comment after He’d finished the parable about the farmer: “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”3
This issue of Activated is all about the things that matter in life, and particularly, how to build that relationship with God. I hope you enjoy it.