As a teenager and young college student, I enjoyed the music of a duo called Simon and Garfunkle. Paul Simon would later become the more famous of the two, but early on it was the lyrics and music of Art Garfunkle that particularly empowered the group. They wrote the poignant and inspiring “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” that has made it into the repertoire of many a Christian artist. But they could also be dark in their message. As a teen, I was drawn to Sounds of Silence and I am a Rock. Now as an adult and a pastor, I see that the message of particularly the latter, is one that appeals to many; but if practiced can lead to both a joyless and a lonely existence. Listen to this clip from the YouTube archives.
Contrast this with the words of an English Christian poet, John Donne (1572-1631) whose writings expressed a deep love for poetry and reflection, but who came to a different conclusion.
NO MAN IS AN ISLAND
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
– John Donne
Relationships have a price, but total independence in the end is far more costly. Solomon discovered this long ago (even before John Donne) when God inspired him to write these words.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down, his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” – Ecclesiastes 4.9-12
Life Matters. And how you live a life that matters depends on your spiritual outlook. If you are choosing the “I am a Rock” approach to life, I just need to ask. “How’s that working out for you?”
And if you truly expect to meet God some day, how do you think the One who inspired “Love your neighbor as yourself” will evaluate whether your life mattered?