Summary: The need to conduct a spiritual inventory of our lives
Sermon Preached at Grace Community Church (EPC)
Sun City Grand, Surprise, AZ
Sunday, August 26, 2001
by the Reverend Cooper McWhirter
An Age of Nonsense: “The Seasons of Our Life”
We have explored the futility of wisdom, of wealth, of laboring “under the sun” and now, as we approach the end of life’s journey, what can be said on our behalf? Have we made a difference in someone else’s life? Will we be able to say that we left this world better than we found it? Or, are we being arrogant in assuming that we can make a difference? Are we not just a jagged pebble in the shifting sands of time?
Allow me to share with you some of my insights from the reading of Ecclesiastes. First of all, I believe that we have a magnanimous God. What do I mean by this? I believe our God, the same God who influenced Solomon’s thinking, is charitable. He is generous, He is patient; most of all, He is forgiving. On the other hand, God is not a doting grandfather-like figure who anxiously awaits our beckon call doling out everything we ask for. He is not the big “sugar-daddy” in the sky that begs our praise.
Furthermore, I believe that God is sovereign. Qoheleth “the Preacher” makes this point abundantly clear. The Name of God appears forty-one times in this book. Terms such as “the Creator” and “the Shepherd” as well as pronouns referring to God appear an additional five times. Phrases like “God made,” God judges,” “God does,” or God has done,” or God will do,” jumps out of these pages. In fact, it’s because God IS sovereign that Solomon come to grips with one of the most perplexing dilemmas about life. God alone holds the answers while feeble man has only questions and nagging doubts. Solomon succumbs to the understanding that man is virtually powerless and impotent before a sovereign God who creates, who orders, who directs, who orchestrates, who frustrates man’s vain efforts to be master of his own destiny.
Thank God we are not robots who have no choice, no option, but to be obedient and compliant! Thank God we can make choices and but are not void of will. Thank God we are who we are! We are a creation of God, by God, and for God. We are uniquely and wonderfully made the Psalmist writes. We are not here by accident. We did not evolve from some organic plant life, fish or animal. These are feeble theories without fact, conjured up by cowards who are too afraid to recognize their Creator.
From Ecclesiastes, I gain a sense of hope not hopelessness. I derive a sense of purpose not purposelessness. I don’t view the world as being in a free-falling, state of chaos. Instead, I see a world with meaning, purpose, direction, timing and orderliness. What is the overriding theme of this book? It is this. We are here on earth for a reason and for a season. There is depth and significance to our existence. We are not a one-dimensional entity or a mere shallow remnant cruelly formed by a one-time creator who walked away after a failed experiment. Instead, we are multi-dimensional; multifaceted. We possess a body, mind and spirit. Solomon explains all this to us so that we will not repeat his own mistakes. He wants us to know that we worship a God whose desire is for us to be healthy in ALL the dimensions of our life … physically, mentally and spiritually.
It’s regrettable that most of the book of Ecclesiastes remains obscure. But there is this one portion from chapter three that is often quoted at funerals and weddings alike. It was even put to music in the 1960’s by Simon and Garfunkel although most people at the time did not even realize that they were hearing scripture. Sadly, these words are rarely preached from, taught about and, tragically, few people live in accordance with them.
Go to any bookstore, even Christian bookstores, and you’ll find shelves full of self-help books, you’ll see a deluge of books on the power of positive thinking by New Age guru’s. You’ll be exposed to all sorts of New Age mantra and subtle nuances that speak of mind over matter. It’s all absolute poppycock! I don’t mind and you don’t matter.
It preys on the unsuspecting, the naïve, and the desperate. The world tries to typify what success should look like. Billions of dollars are spent each year on cosmetics to cover over our natural looks. We turn to prescription drugs to turn us on, to turn us off, take us out and whatever else. Magazines show slim women with smiling faces only to learn later that they died from an eating disorder. Success is not looks. Success is not how much you have in your bank account. All this is sheer madness. This “chasing after the wind” is as old as the ages. We keep searching for a magic potion that will make us happy, successful, content and fulfilled. This quest could have ended three thousand years ago had man only read this book first before venturing out blindly. I believe Ecclesiastes is the finest work about a person’s insatiable search for the meaning to life. Solomon’s conclusions are some of the most profound ever written.