Word Magazine December 1969 Page 10
THE MEANING OF LIFE
by The Very Rev. Panayot Pamukov,
St. Clement’s Church, Dearborn, Michigan
Man is created with a body and a soul: the body is only temporary, but the soul is eternal. Too often, as we live our daily lives, we spend our time worrying only about the body. Our temporal life becomes the center of our existence.
In the course of time the body fades away and dies. If we take a picture of ourselves and compare that picture twenty years later with our image then, we see the irreversible progress of age. The life of man is painfully short. The Apostle James wrote: “You know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14) The end of life slips upon us very silently and suddenly.
Some day when you pass through a cemetery, observe closely the many monuments; read the names and the dates. These people lived just as we do: they had plans, ambitions, and concerns for their life. What remains of these plans now? A traveling professor once stopped and read the following inscription at the gate of a city in India: “The world is only a bridge: pass over it, but don’t build a dwelling on it.” This thought is similar to the words of St. Paul, “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Heb. 13: 14). Indeed, the world to the Christian is very much like a bridge. On this bridge everyone is hurrying about. None of the people on this bridge will remain very long. If life is so temporary, what can be its purpose? Christ has taught us that it is to be as God-like as possible: “Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48)
There is a Christian program which instructs us how to give meaning to our lives. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; not yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than meat, and the body raiment? Behold, the birds of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet our Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are you not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? Therefore take no thought, saying: What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? But seek you first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall he added unto you.” Matt. 6: 25-27. 31-33)
Christ began His earthly preaching with these words : “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” Matt. 4: 17) Every day, every hour, the time for the Kingdom of Heaven draws nearer to us, the time when we will stand before God to give an account about short life here on earth. Are we ready? We can prepare ourselves for God’s judgment through repentance, change of heart, and altering our ways. If we can become new and different people, people of love and goodness, we will begin to live a new life here and now.
One great man of faith said, when he was asked about his life of service to others, “There was one day when I died—I definitely died,” and when he said this, he bowed to the ground and continued : ‘‘in me died my self importance, my egotism, my preferences, my tastes, and my will; I died with regard to praise or abuse from brethren or friends, and then I began to strive to be approved only by God!”
Let us follow the example of this good and true Christian. Let us perform our endeavors, our cares, and our work and die with respect to the world. To be approved only by God is to be worthy of the eternal life in the Heavenly Kingdom.