I needed a mindless decompressing kind of activity this week, so I decided to thumb through my junk mail. After all, what could be more mindless? In the midst of credit card offers, and enticements to come buy everything from new cars to new furniture, I found that I had received one of those Alumni Magazines published by the college from which I graduated. Have you ever received one of those? Alumni updates are these pseudo-magazine type publications that colleges send out to past graduates offering all the news from your old college alma mater. They give faculty news, show construction updates, and often an article on some incredibly successful man or lady who is where they are because they also went to your college. The whole purpose of the publication, of course, is to eventually ask you to send money to help them with their new projects.
While I had no intentions of sending money (I gave them enough as a student), I confess that I had a sudden surge of good memories when I saw pictures of good old Crawford Hall and Louis Hall. Those were the two classroom buildings where I spent most of my time during undergraduate school. Many hours were spent sitting in desks in those two places.
Then I got to thinking: Who was Crawford? Who was Louis? Who were the people these buildings were named after? I know nothing about them. Were they men or women? Were they short or tall? Were they from here or somewhere else? They must have been important at some point, because they got a building named after them. Yet, I entered Crawford Hall and Louis Hall 2-3 times a week for four years and never, ever gave a thought to the people after whom the structures were named, until this week. It was just a name on a building, where I listened to lectures and (sometimes) passed tests.
Then I had a crazy, sort of depressing, morbid thought.
The day is going to come when I am going to die. I am sure I will not get a building named after me; however, I am also sure of this: within sixty minutes after my dead corpse is lowered into a hole, my friends and family will be at some church eating spiral ham, potato salad, and exchanging jokes. I will be nothing but a memory. I’ve been to a lot of funerals. Isn’t that is how it goes? Within minutes of honoring the deceased, life moves on.
Life has a funny way of doing that. The sun rises and the sun sets and rises again. The days turn into months, months into years and on it goes. Time is no respecter of persons. One day we look in the mirror and realize something; there are more years behind us than ahead of us, and we begin to ask ourselves tough questions. Questions like, “What have I accomplished? Will I be remembered?” This is a life phenomenon experienced by millions and millions of people, past and present. As one man lamented to me recently, “Life feels like a great letdown.”
This whole human dilemma is profoundly articulated by one of the wisest and wealthiest men in the history of the world, Solomon. In a wisdom book written near the end of his life, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he penned, “What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:3) Solomon continues to write at length and demonstrate from his own experience that all work, wealth, pleasure, and wisdom “under the sun” is vanity, that is to say meaningless! Like a vapor, it comes and goes and no one notices.
The words of Ecclesiastes ring as true today as they ever have in the history of mankind. All life endeavors performed “under the sun”, which is accomplished for this life and world alone, are meaningless. That is until Jesus Christ enters the equation, and then everything changes.
Most people who struggle deciding what they want to do with their lives, never consider the more important question: “For whom am I doing it?”… If life is all about accomplishment and gain “under the sun”, then Solomon was right - life is truly meaningless! However, if life is lived “under the SON” in a rich relationship with God through Jesus, then everything changes! I like how the Westminster Divines summed it up in the Shorter Catechism, “What is the Chief End of Man? Man’s Chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” (WSC Q1).
Doesn’t that sound great! Doesn’t that change everything? Life does not have to be a great letdown because now life is about loving God: enjoying Him forever. Life with meaning, because it is life under the SON.
Come join us over the course of the next few weeks as we take a look at the Book of Ecclesiastes in our sermon series, Under the Son: The Pursuit of Meaning.
Yours in Christ,
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