“What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:36)
Many Americans have as their greatest desire to “live the American dream” The Amer. Dream is “a state of life focusing on financial security/independence, personal achievement or recognition, and the attainment of comfort and ease.” The Kingdom of God, on the other hand is “the realm of God’s rule and reign; where the Lord’s will is done.”
Matt and Chantel McGhee asked the parents at Family Retreat: “Are we aiming for the American Dream or the Kingdom of God?” If I were to ask you what the advertisements tell us, you’d have to answer: pure comfort and ease, no cares, plenty of money. An African bishop visited the USA and concluded, “We’ve been taken captive by a spirit of comfort and ease…” If this is truly the right pursuit, what’s it like when you have it all?
Brad Pitt was interviewed by Rolling Stone magazine. Pitt was born into a Southern Baptist home back in 1963. On a whim, he bailed out of college two credits short of a degree and drove his little Nissan Datsun to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. He had minor roles in old television soaps like Dallas and Another World. Finally the big break came for him in 1989 when he starred in the horror movie Cutting Class.
Today Brad Pitt has fans around the world. Pitt has been involved in 40+ movies and television shows. Twice he has been chosen by People magazine as the Sexiest Man Alive. Every public word Pitt has uttered to the media is preserved in archives.
Earlier in his career, Robert Redford said he selected Brad Pitt for the main character in one of his movies, not because of his talent but because he detected in him an inner conflict that Redford found “very interesting.” Speaking to a Rolling Stone reporter, Pitt talked about his inner feelings. Perhaps he was revealing what Robert Redford labeled an inner conflict. Pitt interrupted the conversation by sharing a headline that had just flashed into his mind. “I just saw a dreadful title,” he says. “Brad Pitt Talks About His Happiness.” Listen man, it’s all up and down. It’s all up and down.”
Youre talking to a guy,” Pitt begins, “who’s always had this kind of congenital sadness. I don’t know where it came from. I don’t know what it is – the state of the world, the state of yourself. I don’t know. I had a very easy childhood, deprived of nothing per se, so, you know…..I mean, turn on the news man.”
The reporter asked: So youre less sad now? Pitt replies: I’ve got reins on it. Awww, man, listen. I see it in so many people. I just always had so many questions growing up; why this, why the state of the world, why does God want this? Congenital sadness. It always came up, for no reason. I don’t know what it is. Do you know what it is?” Pitt asked.
In the same interview with the Rolling Stone magazine Brad Pitt shared some of his thoughts on the illusion that fame and success brings happiness and contentment. The context was his lead role in Fight Club – about a man who had the American dream but remained unsatisfied. Heres a clip:
Pitt: Man, I know all these things are supposed to seem important to usthe car, the condo, our version of successbut if that’s the case, why is the general feeling out there reflecting more impotence and isolation and desperation and loneliness? If you ask me, I say toss all thiswe gotta find something else. Because all I know is that at this point in time, we are heading for a dead end, a numbing of the soul, a complete atrophy of the spiritual being. And I don’t want that.
Rolling Stone: So if we’re heading toward this kind of existential dead end in society, what do you think should happen?
Pitt: Hey, man, I don’t have those answers yet. The emphasis now is on success and personal gain. I’m sitting in it, and I’m telling you, that’s not it. I’m the guy who’s got everything. I know. But I’m telling you, once you’ve got everything, then you’re just left with yourself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it doesn’t help you sleep any better, and you don’t wake up any better because of it.
Robert Redford put his finger on the problem in Brad Pitts life. He has an inner conflict. Pitt said he doesnt know what the cause of his sadness is. Heres the cause: He is trying to fill his life with fame, fortune and success. Religion did not bring him happiness in his youth. And now stardom is leaving him empty as well. No matter what height he reaches on that ladder, he still experiences what he calls congenital sadness. Sadness from birth.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are parenting six children. But the inner sadness lingers. In a more recent interview with Barbara Walters, Pitt spoke about “congenital sadness” again. He said he could see it in his grandparents and he saw it in people he met. In fact, he said: “It’s something pervasive, an undercurrent that I think Christianity answers.”
The Bible says that from birth we go astray from God.(Psalm 58:3) King David in the Bible said that we are born in sin and shaped in iniquity. (Psalm 51:5) We inherit a sin nature at birth and many choose to live with sin rather than God the rest of their lives.
Brad Pitt, just like yourself was made with the capacity to have a relationship with God. He was made for God and until he finds God and enters into a personal relationship with Him, he will always have a gnawing hunger, a gaping void and an aching emptiness inside. And so will you.
Are you running from God? Are you trying to avoid God by filling your life with everything else but God? The Bible says there is pleasure in sin but it is short lived. (Hebrews 11:25) Sin will eventually do a person in. A disease may take a person to the grave but sin will take a person to Hell. Jesus asked: What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:36)
Whats the alternative to losing your soul? The salvation of your soul. The forgiveness of sins through the Lord Jesus Christ. The sin that is separating you from God today can be fully forgiven. The barrier of your sins can be completely removed and you can have a permanent and very real and eternal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ.
The moment you repent of your sins and accept Christ as your Savior, the void within is filled by God. The emptiness is gone. It is replaced with a deep-seated peace.
Congenital and eternal sadness or peace now and forever?
David F. Nixon, D.Min.
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