For the past few weeks, we have been exploring how we experience “more” in life. The foundation of that series was that every avenue of life has elements with potential for experiencing God’s kingdom at work. Every moment had opportunity to respond in faith and God’s ever-presence endowed meaning to areas that we unconsciously consider routine or outside the scope of our spiritual journey.
Enter, the Teacher. A character modeled after King Solomon and offering the other side of wisdom literature.
“Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!”
This is a frontal assault on “More” and the platitudes that fill our life and faith.
To listen to the Teacher introduces a tremendous tension. We expect investments to pay dividends. We search for significance and accumulate markers of success. We are fueled by the need for permanence. We want God and scripture to validate these feelings, which is probably why we avoid reading it.
As I was listening to the message, I was thinking about why meaninglessness was so unsettling. There is a deep fear that the things I invest my significance in (especially the good things: family, work, ministry) ultimately make no difference in the world and are of no importance to God.
So…we live in denial. We seek more security in ourselves and insulate from the questions that would unsettle our lives.
But, if we enter into the tension and allow the Teacher to deconstruct our assumptions, we have a chance to uncover the motivations behind our search for significance, and rebuild into a more faithful and sustainable life.
The Teacher is our model for questioning life and faith, our model for wrestling with doubt and gaining clarity.
This is hard work with no easy answers. A blog post will not solve the tension and neither will a sermon series. But the next few weeks will be an exercise in self-discovery and a journey we will take together. Ask yourself the tough questions. Don’t expect a quick answer. Spend time wrestling with the uncertainty in search of honest answers.
Perhaps then, Ecclesiastes is a fitting extension of the “More” series, leading us into experiencing more depth in our spiritual life by exposing those areas where we have settled for illusions of success and simplistic faith.