Together or Alone?
You don’t have to read much of Solomon’s book Ecclesiastes to think he seems to be a pessimist or worse. He really isn’t but he does look at most of life and call it vanity, or vapor, or meaningless. This is a perspective thing. He repeatedly says he is examining life “under the sun.” Life under the sun is a perspective that excludes God with a desperate attempt to find satisfaction in things and pleasures. Logically honest people have to come to the same conclusion: if this life is all there is, abounding in oppression, wickedness, disappointment, injustice, and eventually death, then this life really is a miserable and meaningless condition for most of humanity for all of history.
Let’s admit the reality: Life alone is vanity and empty. Those who are alone and oppressed have no one to comfort them. The striving after stuff causes envy that separates neighbors. Materialism and things are worthless by themselves and never satisfy. I find enjoyment in things like my drone most often when I am sharing the flying experience with someone else. So Solomon is right: the world is not a fun place, and the reason is we so like to live “under the sun,” thinking little or nothing about death, judgement, or God.
Thankfully, Solomon recognizes glimmers of hope during some of his despair about the human condition under the sun. He sees that when people are together, the results and rewards can be far better than what any one person can hope for alone.
In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 he says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
I so appreciate our family and our church family. We often get to spend time together. Eating a meal or enjoying a fun activity or conversation is a blessing. This is especially true because we are learning to live together “under heaven.” That means we are growing in our appreciation of the one who is our Creator and who desires for us not to be alone. Rather, God’s desire is “God with us.” His name is Immanuel.
How to Identify a Follower of Jesus
The follower of Jesus understands what it means to fear God. It means to trust him, to read his word and believe what he has said. It means we understand his commandments are good. So life because of and in Christ is not vanity. Solomon wants us to know that our lives aren’t just “under the sun”, they are also “under heaven.”
“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
Five Minute Friday
This post is part of the weekly Five-Minute Friday link-up.
All scripture passages are from the English Standard Version except as otherwise noted.