I was reading a book by Francis Shaeffer recently. He was a longtime professor and pastor (1950s-early 80s) and was most famous for leading a center called "L'Abri" in Switzerland, where people who were seeking a philosophy of life and the world could come and study on their quest for truth.
Today much has changed in our culture since the days of Francis Shaeffer, but man's ultimate search for meaning has not. My observation, therefore, is not that people are seeking a philosophy to explain meaning and purpose for their lives first (as in the 60s), but secondarily, as an actual necessity. Most people have functionally acted upon the promotions of the radically autonomous self and sexuality first, then, in the point of despair, they seek a justification, a reason, a view of the world and self to explain their guilt and why it is present, as they cannot reconcile their lived experience with their inner feelings.
For most, it is moral first, then the bigger picture comes. I think this is the result of 60-plus years of our culture throwing off God's created order, spheres of authority, purpose, and law, and doing what "feels good and seems to give you purpose."
People then synthesize whatever worldviews are easiest for them to make sense of the lived experiences and the easiest for them to justify their carnal appetites, and find purpose, meaning, law, and salvation to explain the reasons for their guilt. Hence the dichotomy between professed belief and actual practice. Many claim parts of Christianity (to feel good), while living as their own authority (or the woke group think), as defined by a therapeutic view of self and the world.
Is this not why the social justice movement is so appealing? It provides a new "moral high ground" for purpose and meaning, where I can transfer my personal feelings of guilt upon the anger of injustice at the groups who hold privilege and power. I can atone for my guilt by outrage, through reparations or riots. But these are lies and faulty narratives.
Holy God knows the truth and only Christianity makes sense of this.
Here is His proposal: To recognize that we are really really guilty. This is not negative feelings only but deep judicial guilt before Holy God, who created us and gives us purpose and meaning. Our guilt is not merely breaking his law at times, but in adopting a totally alien view of ourselves from His created purposes, where our biology tells us we are male and female and should get married, work hard, etc. Our culture has told us those are separate from our true self.
No wonder we feel guilty, lonely, and are in despair.
Life is not meant to be lived in personal autonomous search for meaning but in simple, God-given categories of self, sex and relationship.
We are guilty. God is angry, and rightfully so. There is a real and fair penalty for moral lawbreakers: real, eternal, physical hell for real people who have rebelled against Him.
The glory of God is that He is also love. He sent His Son, fully God but fully and physically man. He died to take our place in the just judgment, facing God's wrath for our (not his) guilt. He rose bodily, re-establishing the creational purposes of God for our lives. We are whole people and what Sin has separated, Christ Jesus, the saving message of Christianity has reconciled.
Our response is to believe Him, accept the guilt of our own sinful rebellion, accept His forgiveness and transfer our obedience from self to Him alone, living according to His Creational categories of meaning, where it is not "all about me" anymore. From Self-absorbed glory-seeking to his Glory. This is the real truth, it is transcendent and yet immediately practical for everyone in every sphere.
Peace with God and with others. This is grace. This is good news. This is the best and only way to live. Real guilt is gone. Real purposes for our lives are given. Real hope in this life and in the next. This is the view of the world, according to the Creator, who created, has redeemed, and is restoring all of creation unto His created purposes. This is the only way to live.