In Chariots of Fire, Harold Abrahams explains why he works so hard to win the Olympics gold medal: “I have ten lonely seconds to justify my existence”. Our culture increasingly values people on the basis of what they do, earn or produce, as opposed to recognizing their intrinsic worth.
If justifying our existence on earth is entirely our own responsibility, then failure is devastating. When Harold loses a race, he symbolically loses everything. And even when he wins, victory clearly feels strange to him, even anti-climactic. 'I'm forever in pursuit,' he confesses, 'and I don't even know what I am chasing.' We could deify romantic love too, putting cosmic significance on our love partner to fulfill our lives. But that sets us up for disappointment because no one can bear the burden of ‘godhood’. We are really seeking redemption, not only romance. Everyone is building his identity on something.
If I build my identity on being a good parent, I have no true ‘self’ – I am just a parent, nothing more. If something goes wrong with my children or my parenting, there is no ‘me’ left. If our ‘idol’ comes under threat, we are shaken to the core and paralyzed by fear. If you lose it due to someone else’s failure, you will be bitter. If you lose it due to own failure, you will hate yourself. Inordinate love: We turn good things into ultimately things. Only if you identify is built on God and his love can you have a self that can venture or face anything. Augustine: Our hearts are restless until they find rest in God.
Social Consequences of Sin
But what if my career/family is doing great? Well, if there is a God who created you, then your soul simply cannot be filled up by anything less. Jesus is the only Lord who, if you receive Him, will fulfill you completely and if you fail Him, will forgive you eternally.