Since I was unable to watch the Super Bowl this year I was reading reports dealing with the various events that took place during this year’s snow-laden weekend of entertainment. The viewing audience itself made news because of the sheer volume of viewers (Super Bowl XLV Poised to Break Viewing Records, Ties 1987 With Highest Overnight Ratings Ever). Another article I found interesting dealt with the half-time show (Black Eyed Peas a glittering bore at Super Bowl – Soundcheck – The Orange County Register), something that a discerning person has had to either skip or watch with one eye closed ever since Janet Jackson played peek-a-booh back in 2004. Each of these articles caused me to stop and reflect upon the meaning of life and an Eagle’s concert that I attended a few months ago. I’ll attempt to make the connection shortly.
These reports reveal some things about the state of our current culture. First, the number of viewers tells me that many people like pro football, but that’s not the important thing. (Let me preface my remarks with this, not everyone who watched the Super Bowl fits the universal statements to follow) The most important thing that the numbers reveal is that there are a lot of people who want diversion from their everyday lives. They live vicariously through the massive men on the field. They find little or no satisfaction in who they are or what they do, and live for things like the Super Bowl to take their minds off of the state of misery that they live in. I wonder how many people will be suffering from depression in the next few days once the excitement of the event is gone.
The second report (the half-time entertainment assessment) had one line that really caught my eye, and I believe that it also reveals a great deal about our culture. The writer focused on the lackluster performance of the Black Eyed Peas. The single line that I mentioned focused on Fergie, the female member of the group. The writer lamented that she had “wailed with more ferocity in the past,” and that “she’s sung it (“Sweet Child o’ Mine”) much better before, with less Axl Rose affectation.” In other words, to that writer she seems to have lost some of the passion in her presentation.
How does this relate to an Eagle’s concert and the meaning of life? Allow me to deal with the Eagle’s concert first. My wife and I were given tickets to the concert for pastor appreciation month (make your own judgment, but I wasn’t about to pass them up). As a musician myself I found the musicianship of the band to be amazing. I was astounded that men of their age (forgive me guys) were still able to hit those high notes and with clarity. Wow! They are truly great at making popular music. However, two things grabbed my attention. First was the behavior of some in the audience. I, at age 43, and my wife (she’ll slap me if I tell her age) were young compared to many in the audience. Most of the audience members were calm and simply enjoyed the music. But there were many who were obviously stuck in their teen years, or at least trying to go back to their teenage “glory days” (oops! That’s Springsteen). Watching them both fascinated and embarrassed me. I had to wonder how empty they must be. The second observation of that evening I found in the faces of the Eagles’ members themselves. They are no longer the youthful guys who laid down the smooth grooves of the 70’s and 80’s. They are now the massively successful, and I would guess, wealthy, mega-rock-n-roll Hall of Fame superstars. But when you look in their individual faces they are the empty-life-is-vain-even-though-I-have-gained-the-whole-world-but-it-has-no-eternal-value lost men identified in Ecclesiastes and elsewhere in Scripture. From the previous report it seems to me that Fergie is finding this out even at her relatively young age. This is where everything converges into something with some meaning, hopefully.
Solomon identifies the futility of life apart from God. In Ecclesiastes 1:2, Solomon states, “Vanity (meaninglessness) of vanities,…Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” This declaration identifies the emptiness of life apart from the proper relationship with our Creator God through His only begotten Son, Messiah Jesus. Solomon goes on to reveal his scientific findings – what he discovered through a scientific investigation of the various activities that man uses to find peace, purpose, and fulfillment in life. And each avenue that the “under the sun” (1:3, et. al.) man utilizes to find what he is looking for has the same conclusion – vanity, emptiness, meaninglessness. That does not mean that man cannot find some measure of fulfillment, peace, and purpose because he does. But what Solomon is identifying is that because of how God created man – “He has…set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end” (3:11) – we have intrinsic knowledge that there is something, someone, some meaning beyond the here and now, beyond ourselves. There is an eternity. There is eternal purpose. There is eternal meaning. But left alone and to our own devices the best we can do is attend the Super Bowl, wait breathlessly for the half-time entertainment, groove to the music of our youth, or any number of instruments or activities in order to numb ourselves to the emptiness of life apart from a right relationship to our Creator God. And ultimately in the end only find emptiness and meaninglessness.
What is the answer (and its not blowing in the wind)? It is to “Believe (have faith) in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). It is then that sin is forgiven and a real relationship with the God Who created us is established. Then and only then can we find eternal meaning, purpose, and satisfaction in this life, and are enabled to look with hope and confidence towards eternal life.
I pray that this helps.