Church Can Be Simple:
A resource for personal reflection or small group discussion.
Ecclesiastes is a book written by someone who should never want for anything. The writer maxed it out, did it all, took it all, never said “no” to himself. Yet, at the end of it all, his commentary about it all, was that it was all smoke, nothing but smoke, a chasing after the wind, and even worse, a spitting into the wind.
If this is true, then everything we ever hope for, everything we plan to accomplish, obsess over, channel all our disciplines and resources to attain: the projects, the relationships, the goals, every thing will never live up to marketing and the hype. Everything will eventually be a let down.
He tells us in passing why and how this lot has become our existential reality. “He (God) set eternity in the human heart,” and he says that this is the burden God had laid on the human race.
In short, your heart is the eternal abyss and everything we try to fill it with, including what seem like noble pursuits, will eventually fall short.
The book however does not end in despair. He does not say that since everything is meaningless, then just stay home and never get out of your pyjamas. The book does the opposite. Chapter 9* challenges us to suck the marrow out of life, to get out and live and live fully alive while you have life.
It does not make an evil thing out of our dreams and pursuits. What it does is that he puts them in their proper context. They are good gifts from God, but they are not gods themselves.
The conclusion of the Quester is that life can only make sense with God as the focal point, the object of our ultimate pursuit. With all the other stuff, we should pursue them knowing that whatever joy they bring is temporary.
1) Has there ever been something you chased, a goal, a dream, an expectation in a relationship that you actually attained, but the joy you thought you would gain from it wasn’t as long lasting as you had imagined? Tell us about it. How did you cope with the disappointment?
2) Thinking about the future: If your most heartfelt dreams could not come true, do you think you could still have joy?
3) What do you think are the “minimums” in your life, the things that could be stripped off of you, your barebones, that which, if this is all your left with. You could still have joy.
4) What are you hoping 2017 will bring to you?
*Ecclesiastes 9:4-10 (MSG)
Still, anyone selected out for life has hope, for, as they say, “A living dog is better than a dead lion.” The living at least know something, even if it’s only that they’re going to die. But the dead know nothing and get nothing. They’re a minus that no one remembers. Their loves, their hates, yes, even their dreams, are long gone. There’s not a trace of them left in the affairs of this earth.
Seize life! Eat bread with gusto,
Drink wine with a robust heart.
Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure!
Dress festively every morning.
Don’t skimp on colors and scarves.
Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day of your precarious life.
Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange
For the hard work of staying alive.
Make the most of each one!
Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!
This is your last and only chance at it,
For there’s neither work to do nor thoughts to think
In the company of the dead, where you’re most certainly headed.