What if I were to tell you that everything in this life is absolutely meaningless? Do you ever feel, as I do, that no matter what you do or how you live that it is not going to make a difference or that it does not even matter at all?
King Solomon, debatably one of the wisest men to ever live, spent much of his life searching for meaning. He describes searching for meaning in wisdom, knowledge, pleasure, work, advancement and in gaining riches. After what he describes as the meaninglessness of all these things, he states that all men have a common destiny that makes life’s pursuits meaningless. That destiny is death.
Imagine for just one moment that that you are walking through a hallway with a multitude of doors on each side. On each door is written a concept in which mankind tries to find meaning: knowledge, wisdom, pleasure, work, status or wealth. Imagine that you go through a door that looks promising only to be trapped on the other side of that door with no where to go but death. This is basically what Solomon discovered about this life, but his conversation did not end at death. He refers to another door in this never-ending hallway that leads not to death, but to life and satisfaction on this earth and even after our physical bodies die.
Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.
The words of the wise are like goads and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is weariness of the flesh.
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 12:9-14)
Fear God. Keep God’s commandments. Whether we believe in God or not, He is King! He owns everything: this universe, this earth, and this humanity. In Matthew chapter 22, Luke chapter 20, and Mark chapter 12, we see one of the encounters that Jesus has with the infamous group of Pharisees. As it happened regularly throughout Jesus public ministry, the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus in His own words. They asked Him whether or not they should pay taxes to Caesar. What is the problem? Well, if Jesus told them that they needed to pay taxes to Caesar, He would implicitly sympathize with, if not support, Caesar’s claim to be not only king but also God. How can a man be the Son of God, or even a prophet, if he gives testimony even implicitly to someone else’s claim to be a god? If Jesus would have told the Pharisees that they shouldn’t have paid Caesar’s tax, then His public ministry would have ended before it was time for it to end because the Roman empire would have put Him to death for denying the emperor’s claim.
Because of this, Jesus gave an answer that would get His message across without threatening His public ministry, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God” (Matt. 22:21, Luke20:25, Mark 12:17). Because the Pharisees and Jesus both believed that God was the absolute King, they also believed that everything belonged to God. Jesus was in fact telling the Pharisees not to pay a man who claimed, or accepted a claim, to be god.
Today, we do not worship Caesar, unless of course we have been coerced into thinking that we live in the first century and are under Roman rule. This however is highly improbable. Today, we tend to worship ourselves over everything and everyone else.
Twenty-first century American society tells us that knowledge is power, that beauty is self worth, that sex is equivalent to love and that personal advancement money and fame all lead to happiness.
Whitney Houston was pop music’s queen until, according to New York Times, increased drug use and erratic behavior tore her career and her life apart. Here is an excerpt from the article:
“But by the end of her career, Ms. Houston became a stunning cautionary tale of the toll of drug use. Her album sales plummeted and the hits stopped coming; her once serene image was shattered by a wild demeanor and bizarre public appearances. She confessed to abusing cocaine, marijuana and pills, and her once pristine voice became raspy and hoarse, unable to hit the high notes as she had during her prime” (Jamison).
Whitney Houston’s “king” had become a variety of things, which included her career. We, as twenty-first century Americans, all serve a plethora of “kings” including: careers, families, friends, education and self. What if we were to apply the words of Jesus to our very lifestyle? Give to your career what belongs to your career. Give to your family what belongs to your family. Give your friends what belongs to your friends. Give to your education what belongs to your education, give to self what belongs to self. Give to Obama what belongs to Obama. GIVE TO GOD WHAT BELONGS TO GOD! Remember, God owns everything. Please do not misunderstand. We should care for our family and be with our friends. We should pursue education and work to support our family. What we should not do is give ourselves completely over to those things, for we belong to God and God alone. Instead, when we interact in the different arenas that life has to offer, we do so to glorify God and not to serve that arena as king.
Life is so much simpler than we choose to make it. Fear God. Keep God’s commandments. The greatest commandment is this: love God, and love people (Matt. 22:37-39). The only way that we can truly love God, and therefore keep His commandments, is to have a relationship with Him. The only way that relationship is possible is through the saving power of Jesus Christ. Many, many years ago, we were separated from God because we chose to live according to our own standard instead of God’s standard. Jesus Christ, God’s Son, came to Earth and filled the gap between humanity and God through His own physical death. On the third day He rose again and is ready to take those who believe in Him to God the Father, with whom we were created to have a relationship.
So, as we are walking down this hallway, trying to find the meaning of life, we can know that there is only one door that will not ultimately lead to death. Humanity has but one purpose: fear God and keep His commandments. Whereas all of these other “kings” lead us straight to death, God gave Himself so that we can overcome that death. This is the God I serve. What about you? Will you choose to walk through the one door that gives life a never-ending meaning?
Jamison, E. (n.d.). Whitney houston. Retrieved from http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/h/whitney_houston/index.html