In the 1970’s, Earnest Becker wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning book called Denial of Death. As an anthropologist who had extensively studied ancient cultures and societies, his theory was that the fear of annihilation and/or death drives a lot of the wars, bigotry, racism, and other evils that have plagued civilization throughout history. He said that nearly all people, in their attempt to create a legacy that will outlive themselves, embark on what he calls an immortality project. Spawned by the belief that being part of something grand and heroic will ultimately defeat the annihilistic power of death, immortality projects were and are endeavors to create a name that others remember after a person is gone. For instance, Caesar would say things like, “You live forever as long as people remember your name.”
Interestingly, Becker’s theory was in sharp disagreement with Sigmund Freud, who claimed that man’s bad behavior was actually the result of repressed sexuality. On the contrary, his findings agreed with another philosopher named Soren Kierkegaard, who was a Danish theologian and thinker who lived in the 1800’s. A favorite of mine, Kierkegaard, though his writings were dark and explored the meaninglessness of life and organized religion, ultimately provided a solution to the great problem of mortality — Jesus Christ. He understood that true meaning in life could only be found through the eternal power and abiding presence of the Lord. Fascinatingly, although Becker came to the same conclusion about immortality as Kierkegaard had over a hundred years before, he simply could not convince himself to believe. When he was dying of colon cancer years later, he returned to his Orthodox Jewish roots, but whether he ultimately professed faith in Christ is unknown.
Friend, Jesus has given you an immortality project whose worth far exceeds any that you could undertake on your own! When it comes to finding meaning in this life, He is the only One that matters. Institutions won’t do it, books won’t do it, meetings won’t do it, and neither will degrees or diplomas. Only the Lord can impart a perfect eternal destiny to your soul and take away the inevitable angst that comes from being mortal. Run to Him, know Him, abide in His presence, and you will no longer have to face the daunting task of designing your own immortal legacy. Isn’t that a freeing thought?