Life in the modern world can be difficult. While reality is what it is, that doesn’t mean it is always easy. Sometimes our difficulties living in the world seem insurmountable, so much so that we sometimes find that we simply cannot live as realists, as people who accept that “this is the way things are”. We cannot change things, and yet we cannot live with them as they are. What can we do?

The modern secular answer is to create meaning for oneself (philosophers call this existentialism). Technology is a key way to do this today. For instance, when we find meaning in presenting ourselves to others in the way we want to be seen, rather than in the way we are, social media is the technology we turn to. We use technology to help us maintain our chosen lifestyles. If we find meaning in not having or in having children, society makes various contraceptive/abortive or infertility treatment technologies available so that we can have, or not have, the children we want. We make ourselves through our chosen professions and careers: when we meet someone for the first time, when asked who we are, we so often reply with what we do. We even make our bodily selves. For instance, if we find meaning in being a different gender than our bodies, there is now technology for that: gender-reassignment surgery and special language to use. Indeed, language is an important technological realm for creating meaning. For instance, when we are feeling in our work as if we are cogs in a machine, we use language around professionalism, economic development and productivity to give ourselves meaning at work. When we are feeling mistreated because of our class or race, we use language around inequity and oppressive structures to create meaning for ourselves out of that. We create tribes of meaning for ourselves, in cooperation with like-minded individuals who have shared language and values. Yet sometimes all of this fails: when we are weak, when we have reached the “end of our rope”, so often we despair in finding ways to create meaning for ourselves and so we give up, through suicide or euthanasia. Sadly, in more and more places, there are technologies for that, too.

Sometimes we get upset when something that gives us meaning conflicts with something that gives someone else meaning, and we are thrown into conflict. Because these conflicts are about meaning that we use to define ourselves, they can become intense, because the different view of others feels like an attack on our very being, an attack on what makes us ourselves. So we fight, feeling that our very lives are on the line. Those fights can be costly and damaging.

But what if there is a different way? Must life really be a stark choice between being crushed by harsh reality, or creating meaning, however artificial, for ourselves using whatever technology comes to hand? Is there a third way? The answer is Yes. Christianity offers an alternative. Christians know a key fact that others do not know: the universe is loved by God. Hence we do not need to be realists in a hostile world that does not care about us, desperately seeking some temporary way to create meaning so that we can find enough hope to keep living. The truth is this: God so loved the world, that he sent his son, Jesus, to save us. [John 3:16]  First, Jesus saves us by showing us God’s love for us, so insistently that he accepts rejection and death for himself rather than ceasing to love. Second, he saves us by giving us himself for us to follow. Jesus shows us by example how to live, and moreover, he helps us do it. In rising from the dead, Jesus shows that he is not just a good man with a nice story, his story is true and his goodness is both real and effective.

What this means is that we do not need to create meaning for ourselves. Meaning is already here, reaching out to us. We have an alternative to creating our own meaning: we can accept the real and true meaning that Jesus offers. In doing so, we can be part of a story whose meaning is woven into the very fabric of the universe, a story that we are made to be a part of, one in which we can flourish. We do not have to live in a world where we long for meaning but cannot find it, making facsimiles for ourselves that are ultimately unsatisfactory. Jesus can give us the real thing: meaning that is true, meaning that matters, meaning that gives us hope. So do not delay. Jesus is real, he loves you and he is ready to help you. Go to him, learn from him, follow him.

Agapios Theophilus

Agapios Theophilus

Agapios Theophilus is the "nom de plume" of a catholic layman who has loved Jesus from when, as a young boy in the 1970s, he first learned about him. His First Communion, at the age of seven, was the happiest day of his life, and he celebrates its anniversary each year. He lives in a large city with his beloved wife, two wonderful children, and an affectionate orange and white cat. He has no formal qualifications whatsoever to write about Jesus: he writes only because he has been given the great gift of knowing and loving him, and he would like others to come to know and love him too. See Agapios' posts at and follow Agapios on twitter at

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