“Is There Meaning?”
Pastor David Moore
New Testament reading: Luke 12:22-34 (NIV)
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will He clothe you—you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Old Testament reading: Ecclesiastes 1:1-18 (NIV)
The word of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem:
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its full of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new?” It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. There is no remembrance
of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow. I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. What is twisted cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted.
I thought to myself, “Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.” Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this too, is a chasing after the wind.
For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.
Theme: today we will learn from Solomon (the Teacher) in Ecclesiastes. Solomon uses the Socratic method (asking questions to challenge the reader to think), about the meaning of life.
The Socratic method: simplified:
1. Ask a challenging, open-ended question.
2. Build on the first question by asking why?
3. Come up with ideas based on these questions.
4. Interrogate your ideas with continual questions.
5. Repeat steps 2-4 to get closer to a better solution.
It is ideal that you ask these questions with a group of people to get different perspectives.
Everything is meaningless without God. Without God, he explores all the possible avenues to find meaning in the world and finds none. Ecclesiastes is a book of questions to provoke us to find answers to life. ~D. Moore
The question today, what does a person gain from toiling under the sun?
What is left over, after all the work, that is of permanent value? What have we worked so hard for? What did we accomplish or hoped to accomplish? When life is over, and we’re looking back, what did we really do?
Solomon anticipates three possible answers to these questions.
The humanist says: “I have to make this world a better place.”
The hedonist says: “Life is meaningless so let’s party.”
The existentialist says: “Life is meaningless, so we have to invent meaning, defy the meaninglessness and live a life in spite of the lack of meaning.”
“Existentialism is about being a saint without God; being your own hero, without all the sanction and support of religion or society.” ~Anita Brookner
What is Solomon doing? Over and over, he is pushing us to see that either God exists, and the universe makes sense, a God who created us and who holds us and who will guide humanity, or God doesn’t exist and nothing matters, everything is futile. There is no middle ground. ~D. Moore
We are all for God, all in as it were, or everything is hopeless, senseless, and meaningless. ~D. Moore
The hope doesn’t come in Ecclesiastes, it comes in John. John used the Greek word logos which is defined as meaning. ~D. Moore
John knows what the logos is. It is a Person (Jesus). God came to earth, the logos became flesh and dwelled among us, and we behold His glory. When we know this logos, this One, when we sense and worship Him, we find our reason for life. Every moment is a chance to move closer to God or further away. Everything in life is a reflection of the truth of God’s nature. The person I talk to about Jesus or invite to church could remind me of that invitation in a million years and how thankful they still are. Here is the deal: everything means everything or nothing means anything. If Jesus is the logos, everything matters.
John 1:14: And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The choice was laid out by Solomon. Either life means something or nothing. All that hinges on our understanding of God; whether He exists, whether He loves us, whether He died for us and rose again to go before us to prepare a place for us with the Father. The choice is always ours. What is your choice?
God bless, have a great week.