We find meaning only when we are willing to commit ourselves to something greater than ourselves. People find meaning in military service because they are committing themselves to the defense of a homeland. Others find meaning as peace officers or firefighters or paramedics – protecting, rescuing, serving. People find meaning working in healthcare or the applied sciences because doing so requires commitment to the wellbeing of others. People find meaning in environmental preservation and the natural sciences because doing so involves commitment to care for the natural world. Meaning is found in pushing the limits of discovery, in the creation of art or music, in teaching students, in providing therapy, or advocating for the disenfranchised. In each case, the cause is higher than self.
Because God is the Ultimate being, ultimate love and life, committing oneself to know, love, and serve God produces ultimate meaning.
On the other hand, some commit themselves to things lower than themselves – things like making a ton of money, having the latest stuff, exercising power and control over others, or indulging one’s self-centered desires.
We become like what we worship. If we commit ourselves to things lower, it dehumanizes us. We become increasingly insensate. Our hearts harden. If we commit ourselves to that which is higher than we are, we grow more unselfish and feel more whole. If we commit ourselves to God, we slowly become more like God. And God is perfect cruciform, self-sacrificial love.