I read an article a few days ago that featured Michael Jordan. He admitted that he has felt an emptiness since he left basketball. This happens a lot with entertainers and athletes. They become so accustomed to the spotlight that they can’t handle when it’s not there anymore. Their life seems to no longer have any purpose.
This is why we are hearing so much about entertainers committing suicide. And many of those who aren’t committing suicide are on some kind of anxiety medication. Why? Because their life is seriously lacking in purpose. The lives that they now live feel empty and not worth living.
Purpose is the driving force in our lives. When we have no purpose then it is hard for us to even desire and enjoy life. Money and fame don’t equal happiness, purpose does. If money and fame were equivalent to happiness then a lot of Christians would be very unhappy. But followers of Jesus are some of the most joyous and happy people in the world, because they have found a purpose beyond themselves and this life.
The story of the rich young ruler has always gripped and saddened me. Every time I read the story I find myself hoping that somehow it ends differently. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that it does and we never see him again in scripture. Jesus asked him to give up his riches and follow him. The young man just couldn’t go that far. Too frequently people in the world make the same mistake. Jesus comes knocking, but they turn him away because they are constantly chasing “the dream.”
The writer of Ecclesiastes warns us of this at the very beginning of his book. In chapter 1 verse 2 he states that “all is vanity, a mere chasing after the wind.” It doesn’t matter how much you accumulate you will always want more. But when you decide to follow Jesus, you give up the American Dream, and you decide to chase a much different dream. It may not make you wealthy and famous, but it will enrich your life in ways that you never thought possible.
Jesus asked a question that still resounds throughout history and eternity. “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Who would make such a trade? It makes no sense. It’s the same choice that Esau made when he gave up his birthright for a bowl of soup. It’s a decision made by those who have deemed the temporal as more important than the eternal. And it’s a decision that will send you down the wrong path. Unfortunately people continue to make the same choice every single day. The question is, what will you choose?