Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Questions of Meaning

Some of my readings this week have been from Ecclesiastes. I find this to be a personally significant book of the Bible. In the context of my previous post on “decisions,” what ultimate difference does it make whether I read, watch TV or surf the internet.... whether I work hard or barely do enough to get by.... whether I feast or fast? There are people in each generation who model a wide scope of choices, life-styles and world views so that options are generally available to those who look for them. The power of direct influence is not a given (some children follow a parent’s pattern — for good or ill — and others do not).

Ecclesiastes raises more issues than I can list in a post such as this; they are there for the reading. In all the many details that mark our respective lives, what do they really matter in the long run, remembering that we live, we die and regardless of the details, there is nothing new. The hopes, dreams, frustrations, joys and pains that we experience are essentially what has marked life for humankind over the centuries. I may have my personal preferences — actually, most of us prefer to be secure and comfortable (with the varying details to be determined), but getting my preferences or being deprived of them will neither bring in the Kingdom nor stop it.

God uses all of the complexity in our individual lives (multiplied by the complexities of the world) to accomplish His purposes. I do not try to (cannot) figure out all of that. The real question of meaning is both personally existential and eschatological: how am I living, regardless of circumstances, in response to God? This world is rehearsal for the next, and if we do not find meaning there then there truly is no real meaning.

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