Monday, July 6, 2015

We Can Have It All

Ecclesiastes 1:2 - "Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher; "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."

It sticks in my mind and heart. It's a thought that lingers throughout any given week. Vanity of vanities. We have been in the Book of Ecclesiastes in Sunday school. I've mentioned that before. All I can say for sure is that in the end everything boils down to just one thing! I will get to that later.

Just in the twelve chapters of Ecclesiastes the word vanity, or some form of it, is mentioned 34 times. As we have discussed, one example after another of our own vanity is brought up, from our desire to have a collection of "whatever" it might be (for which it was eventually realized as pointless) to the extreme example of living in absolute plainness as some religions do. Both are vanity. One is sort of a claim that we have the means to have our stuff. The other says some don't need all "your" stuff and we will live meagerly. Neither is totally wrong if it doesn't consume us. 

Solomon asked first for wisdom from God over anything else and he got it plus all he could ever have wanted. But listen to what Solomon had to say later:

Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor; and this was my reward from all my labor. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun. (‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭2‬:‭10-11‬)

Does that take the wind out of your sails like it did Solomon? All that we have, all we have worked for...will someday be meaningless. It's like the old saying, you can't take it with you. Or, you come into this world with nothing and leave with nothing. All the things we hold so dear will might just mean nothing to the next person. It will be nothing new under the sun; what was done before, will be done again. 

I get this! I love photography. I know I have some amazing pictures. I have thousands of pictures. I try to weed them out occasionally and find it hard to get rid of some. But someday those pictures will be meaningless and just discarded by someone who could care less about them. They have no meaning for anyone but me. Vanity...a grasping for the wind. What's the point? And yet I still take photos, as if to capture the moment, capture the beauty...for me. 

We strive for all the worldly goods and accolades from others in this life. And, why, is the question Solomon is bringing up. Why, when we can't take it with us? What's the point? 

Here's the can have all the stuff in the world, a big house, nice car, greatest college education, high paying job, all that money can afford, and still not have it all and will never be satisfied. Each Sunday this comes up. All the worldly pleasures. One only wants more. The stuff never satisfies. Think about it. Am I right? And, hey, it's not me talking anyway, so don't get mad at me! Solomon, the man who asked God for wisdom over anything else, had it all and this is what he narrowed it down to for us to example. 

There is only one thing that will satisfy. His name is Jesus Christ. I'd heard a teaching on the simplicity of Christ. It delved into what some churches today seem to need to do...remove the simple message of Jesus Christ and replace it with fun, excitement, visual effects...theatrics. And when that isn't enough anymore, then what? What will entice people to stay in church? More donuts and coffee? More light shows during worship? There was a time when just the message of Jesus Christ, with its preaching, in no uncertain terms, on sin and God's grace and mercy when we have come to grips with our sin.

The simplicity of Christ. It's a choice we make...simplicity of Christ or the vanity of pleasure. In the very end, only one wins out. Not only do I want this in my church but in my life. Narrow everything down to what matters most. Is what matters most knowing Jesus, having Him? Period. Is He the center, the main focus? If we have Him, we have it all. 

So I'm learning a lesson. When I die I do not want a bunch of stuff that someone has to sort through. What I want to be remembered for is my love for and devotion to Christ. The simplicity in life. We are told we are to be content in any circumstance. This message is also for those with little possessions. If we have Jesus that's all that should matter because in the end, when we die, if we do not have Him, we have nothing. If we know Him, we have it all. 

Ecclesiastes 2:14-16 - The wise man’s eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. Yet I myself perceived that the same event happens to them all. So I said in my heart, “As it happens to the fool, it also happens to me, and why was I then more wise?” Then I said in my heart, “This also is vanity.” For there is no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool forever, Since all that now is will be forgotten in the days to come. And how does a wise man die? As the fool!

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