Why did you get out of bed this morning? I hear you laughing at my question. “Seriously, Jerry. I have kids to feed, a mortgage to pay, a boss to please, remember?” I mean what’s bigger than that for you? Somebody will do what you do, probably in a better way, someday sooner than you think. Your children will grow up and move away, making a life apart from you, as it ought to be. One by one, friends and family will step over the invisible wall between time and eternity. What will life mean then? Will the American affluence that bought you that house, those vacations, a few toys along the way be enough?
Solomon cynically wrote of his vast accomplishments- “ I came to hate all my hard work here on earth, for I must leave to others everything I have earned. And who can tell whether my successors will be wise or foolish? Yet they will control everything I have gained by my skill and hard work under the sun. How meaningless! So I gave up in despair, questioning the value of all my hard work in this world.” (Ecclesiastes 2:18-20, NLT) Solomon got a part right. We will all leave what we have piled up behind and those who inherit it will use it without our consent or knowledge!
But, there is a life to live that is more than work, more than accumulation, more than promotion. It’s a Christ-centered life, shaped by the love of the Kingdom of God – now and in eternity. That life is not about making Jesus into the Protector and Provider of our wealth and happiness! It is about loving people, taking on evil in its various forms and expressions, focusing on sharing the Good News that because He lives, we live also. What a way to live! When we hear and respond to the Call of the King, we find a reason to get up every day – in our youth, in middle age, and as we age – with hope, with a mission. I love those old saints who are as committed to Christ in their 80’s as they were in their 30’s!
But, and here I may offend many, I see fewer and fewer of them all the time. Instead, I see bitter old people who are seething with resentment towards God, feeling that He has let them down in some way because they can no longer experience the ‘good life’ they pursued so passionately for so long. With Solomon they rage – “It’s all meaningless, a chasing after the wind!”
“Jesus,” as a god for convenient Sunday mornings, a kind of life insurance policy to keep us from the fear of death, will not provide us with the joyful, rich Christianity that is promised in the Gospels. Two hours of ritual in a church building on 35 or 40 Sundays a year simply will not allow a person to truly know and love God in a way that will sustain him or her when the music stops, the aches set in, and the next generation starts to take the stage! Indeed, one of the reasons that we are not handing the faith to the next generation very well these days is that they have seen the anemic thing the majority of Americans call “Christianity,” a profession that lacks passion and any real sense of compelling mission, and they have decided to discard it as an unnecessary hindrance to the full pursuit of all that this life has to offer.
Passionate Christians, those who love and live for Jesus, pray earnestly that Christ’s kingdom will come and His will be done on earth, and live as an answer to their own prayers. They see need and serve in such a way that they must pray to be empowered because they want to actually change the world, not just manage it. They care about the eternal destiny of their family, their neighbors, their world. They love the oppressed, see the pain of those enslaved by sin, and yearn to rewrite history. History is rich with those people of passionate faith who went before us, who made our lives different in ways we may not even know. I want to be one of them, do you? What a way to live!
After all his rants about the folly and meaninglessness of life, Solomon concludes with these words, the reflections of an old man who knew great worldly success yet knew he had wasted his life. “Honor and enjoy your Creator while you’re still young, Before the years take their toll and your vigor wanes. … Life, lovely while it lasts, is soon over. Life as we know it, precious and beautiful, ends. … The last and final word is this: Fear God. Do what he tells you. And that’s it. Eventually God will bring everything that we do out into the open and judge it according to its hidden intent, whether it’s good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1,6,13-14, The Message)
Here is a word from the Word. “Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” (Matthew 6:33, The Message) What a way to live and then to die, to live forever. Amen
Take my life and let it be,
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days;
Let them flow in ceaseless praise,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be,
Swift and beautiful for Thee,
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Frances Ridley Havergal | Henri Abraham Cesar Malan
© Words: Public Domain