There is a Greek word used by ancient philosophers, the Church fathers and throughout the scriptures that takes this concept even further. Telos (τέλος) describes the ultimate conclusion, fulfillment and completion of what the original and primary goal is of something. It is maximum strengthen 'El Fin'. We see the power of this word being used when Christ calls out on the cross that it is finished.
'And this word Telos is taken up in the final cry uttered by Christ on the Cross: "It is finished", telelestai (John 19:30). This is to be understood, not as a cry of resignation or despair, but as a cry of victory: It is completed, it is accomplished, it is fulfilled.' (The Orthodox Way)
If we step back and reflect about where our life is going we may find that we may be living like a simple action film, following a wordily formula of how we should live our lives: have fun childhood, get good education, have successful career, enjoy the fun of life, enjoy the golden years and die happy with as little suffering as possible. Now nothing here is bad in itself, and these are blessings from God for sure, but a life following such a script doesn't lead us towards our vocation as humans, it doesn't lead us to the telos of our life which is the life beyond with Christ for all eternity. Likewise, the lack of any doesn't hinder or limit us from living a fully Christian life oriented towards Christ's eternal kingdom. Listen to St. John Cassian beautifully articulate that anything other the being oriented towards God's love will ultimately pass away.
"All gifts have been given for reasons of temporal use and need and they will surely pass away at the end of the present life. Love, however, will never be cut off. It works in us and for us, and not simply in this life. For when the burden of physical need has been laid aside in the time to come Love will endure, more effectively, more excellently, forever unfailing, clinging to God with more fire and zeal through all the length of incorruption." St. John Cassian
So what does life look like to not following the script of the world but embodies the life of Christ? What does it mean to live daily being oriented towards our telos found in Christ and His Kingdom rather than just entertainment, status and pain avoidance? Below are a few humble reflection points to consider in 'rewriting' our daily 'script' to rebalance and reorient towards our telos in Christ.
- Wordly Work or Divine Work - Most of us work a 40 hour a work week, so we are accustom to working hard, working on a schedule, working when we don't feel like it and dedicating much of our life to work. The Divine Liturgy roughly translates to 'Godly work of the people' and we should ask ourselves if we are regularly doing 'God's work' each Sunday morning. Maybe we need to put in a bit of 'overtime' by coming to a Wednesday or Saturday night Vespers once a week. Is our vision for work to have a telos to be rich and avoid any financial concerns or is it to provide for ourselves so that we can live out our Christian life, doing the good work of God through worship and service?
- Entertainment or Prayer - Every day people watch one billion hours of YouTube videos a day and 500 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube every minute! Movies, hobbies, shopping, games, sports, social media, etc. gives us an unending amount of entertainment. We are literally drowning in opportunities for fun every second of our life and we can easily think that the telos of life is to scoop up as many handfuls of fun to consumer. Yet where does it leave us after consuming earthly delights day after day after day? Just as hungry, or hungrier, than we were the day before. What if we were to reorient our telos away from fun and towards prayer? Could we pray at the start and end of our day; maybe praying best we can throughout the day? Maybe we can turn down the dial on entertainment and turn up the daily on prayer so that we can drink of the water 'springing up to eternal life' (John 4:14)?
- Self-Focused or Other-Focused - Our purchasing history shows us where we spend our money and what we buy. Our calendars show us where we need to be and what we need to do. Our social media and browser history show us what we are interested in and were we spend our extra time. Our bookshelves show us what we read and think about. If we were stop and examine all of these periodically from the lens of how much we focus on ourselves vs. focus on others, I think the results would be very startling (at least it was for me when I did it!). Such an insight shows us the inner telos of our heart and where we direct our love. Do we love ourselves through what we buy, where we spend our time, where our focus our attention and how we act towards others OR do we have a focus on the other; on our loved ones, our church family, those in need, and our Lord Jesus? Can we change our telos and vision of life from a self-centered one, to an other-focused one that will shape the movements of our hearts, now and forever?