Summary: By studying the wisdom of Solomon, we will be able to understand life better and, understanding life better, live better.

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JANUARY 9, 2000





Christ Church

19543 Lunn Road

Strongsville, Ohio 44136

(440) 572-7610

DR. COLLINGS: I would like to begin a new series today called Ancient Wisdom for the Absurdity of 20th Century Life. We are going to study through the book of Ecclesiastes together over the next 13 weeks. Hopefully, by studying the wisdom of Solomon, we will be able to understand life better and, understanding life better, live better.

So if you have your copy of the Scriptures, we will be looking this morning at Ecclesiastes Chapter 1, Verses 1 through 11. How fitting is it to have an absurd voice on the Sunday you are going to preach on absurdity? (Dr. Collings is hoarse this morning).

"Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for your kindness. I thank you that you are gracious to us in many ways. Father, what we are asking for this morning and over the next 13 weeks is that you would grant us the grace to see the reality of life instead of trying to create a reality that does not exist. Help us to surrender our Pollyanna thinking and to be hard realists who understand life and choose to live wisely. Teach us your way, oh, Lord, in Jesus’ name. Amen."

If you were to go out this evening with a good telescope and look at the night sky, the farthest light that you would see is approximately 15 billion light years away. Now, I know some of you are good in math. Light travels six trillion miles in a year, so that light is six trillion times 15 billion miles away.

The universe is about the same size in every direction. It is not as if one light object is 15 billion light years away to the north, but if you look south, everything is closer. It is 15 billion light years away from every direction. That can mean one of two things: We are in the middle of it all, or, perhaps more realistically, we only have vision for 15 billion light years. Anything beyond that, we can not see.

The universe is incomprehensibly large. We can not associate it with anything we know, so we try to break this incomprehensible universe down into smaller pieces. There is a galaxy of galaxies that we call our Super Cluster, and we break the Super Cluster into the local group which is like a solar system of galaxies. The galaxy we live in is called the Milky Way; it is one hundred million light years across, and we happen to live on the outer edge of one of the spiral arms of our galaxy. When we break our galaxy down into a solar system, we happen to be the third planet from our sun. We are in what is called the "zone of life." If we were closer to the sun, the earth would not support life. If we were farther from the sun, the earth would not support life. If we were closer to the sun, we would have rainstorms of sulfuric acid, just as Mercury has. On Venus, lead is always liquid. If we were farther from the sun, we would be like Mars; and if we had water, it would be covered over by dust from the perpetual dust storms that are created on a planet where there is no vegetation.

We can break it down even further; we live on the planet earth on the North American continent, in the United States of America, which has a population of 280 million. We live in the state of Ohio, in Cuyahoga County. Our church is located in the city of Strongsville; we each live in a specific neighborhood in a house or apartment, and we relate to other people, our neighbors, and our families. Somehow, we think we can bring this orderly universe into our specific lives, so that if we just do everything right, life will turn out the way we want it. If I can just organize my life the way the universe is organized, and make the right decisions all along the way, life will turn out the way I want it to. I will be happy, and life will be good. The truth is life does not work that way. Life is not like mathematics where one and one always equals two. People who try to live that way are perpetually unhappy and develop wrong attitudes about God. In fact, life is absurd. In human experience, one plus one sometimes equal five. You can do things the same way two times in a row and not produce the same results, right? Life is absurd. Sometimes I love my family so much I can not stand it; sometimes I am so angry with them that I can not stand it. I like to blame it all on them, but it is probably not them. Life is absurd. Do you ever get grouchy for no reason at all?

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