Millions of people acknowledge today that they do not know the meaning of life. Indeed, sociologists tell us that a desperate search for spiritual truth is underway throughout Western cultures. Baby boomers have been seeking something to believe in for almost three decades. In the 1970s, they were involved in a quest that came to be known as "the discovery of personhood." It motivated some of them to participate in nude counseling, transcendental meditation, reincarnation and other Eastern mysticism, ESP, astrology, psychoanalysis, therapeutic massage, far-out theologies, and a seminar on the self called EST.
The quest for personhood failed miserably. Indeed, most people came out of these programs more confused and frustrated than before. They looked for the answers to life's questions within themselves and were inevitably disappointed. Here's why.
When I was four years old, I was digging in the yard and discovered a bed of onions my aunt had planted that spring. Not knowing what they were, I began trying to peel them. As I tore away the outer layer, I found another shiny one tucked underneath. When that one was stripped away, yet another lay below. The onion just got smaller and smaller as I clawed at its structure. My aunt was shocked a few minutes later to find fragments of her prized onions spread all over the lawn.
Human beings are like those onions in some ways. When you strip away all the layers one by one, not much remains to "discover." You will never find real meaning among your selfish interests, feelings, and aspirations. The answers do not lie within you. In fact, the more you promote yourself, the emptier you feel.
Jesus addressed that precise issue when He said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it" (Luke 9:23-24 KJV). In other words, meaning and purpose will be found outside--not inside--the onion.
Where will you find answers to the major questions of life? How will you identify the values that moth and rust will not corrupt and thieves cannot break in and steal? All of us are faced with those questions. How can they be answered?