Friday, April 25, 2008

Botox Religion

Wrinkles? We have a shot for that. Fat? We have a pill for that. Losing muscle tone? Just 20 minutes a day and Bowflex can fix that. Hair going gray? We have a shampoo for that. Body feeling its age? Try icy hot to relax it away. Hearing starting to fade? Beltone make 'em smaller and less noticeable to not only improve hearing, but to safe face by not revealing your weakness.

Does it seem that people in our culture accept aging and death as a part of life? No, we flee from it. I wonder, then, if there is a connection between our denial of the facts of aging and our denial of the facts about God. If a person is truly believes the delusion that they may avoid aging by the power of their own will, effort, or wealth, what heed do they give to their Creator?

Solomon seems to draw a distinct connection as he describes the effects of time on a man, and yet his only conclusion is to remember God while you still can, before the final effect (death) takes hold. As long as we can run from death, we have no need for the Creator. But Solomon says, "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come" (Ecc. 12:1) What do you suppose it profits a man to contemplate death even while he still feels invincible?

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Friday, April 4, 2008

The Ameri-Canaan Dream

We hear so much about living the American dream, and by the name of it, you'd think we came up with it or something. Live free and wealthy, own land, enjoy the fruits of your labor... c'mon, is it really fair to call this the American dream. If we read chapters 4 & 5 in Ecclesiastes, we'll see Solomon describing the same dream in Canaan, over 3000 years ago. Let's see how well it worked out for him.

Oh, now it might sound like a stretch to say there's so much similarity between the Canaan Dream and the American Dream, but just look at the text. Starting in 4:3, we have the people pursuing contentment (in their possessions), familial relationship (2-1/2 kids and a dog, right?), political gain, and of course, all the while observing the necessary religious patronage that our societal tradition requires (5:1-7).

The tune changes in 5:8, however, as Solomon goes on to observe the evil of taxes, economic expansion, and building an estate for inheritance. Move on to chapter 6 and the picture gets grimmer.

So where do we find our hope? Who can answer the rhetorical questions in 6:8,11, & 12? The old hymn says it best, "My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness."

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A meaningless life...

When I was a teenager, I went to a national conference for teens in the Quaker denomination. For a small-town farm boy, this was was quite an eye-opening experience. It was there that I had my first encounter with a theologian who actually believed that Christ was merely a "good moral teacher."

"How silly!" I thought. Hoping to show him his error, my simple response was, "So, then how do you get to Heaven?" This was not a difficult obstacle for his logic, as he explained that he did not believe in a heaven, nor a hell, but merely "worm food" as he so aptly put it. Puzzled, I asked one more question. "So, why do you obey the 'moral teachings' of Jesus at all?"

Nearly three thousand years ago, a wise teacher and king in the house of David had pondered the same question. I would encourage you this week to read through the book of Ecclesiastes and consider how meaningless our lives would be—our jobs, our relationships, even our religion—if it were not for the truth of the very last verses, 12:13-14. Praise God for the reward He has promised us all.

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