Monday, April 5, 2010

Who Is the Exception?

What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said,
"See, this is new"?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
There is no remembrance of former things,
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things yet to be
among those who come after.
Ecclesiastes 1:9-11 (ESV)

The "Preacher" said it and it has endured for centuries, even millennia. Along with Job, Psalms, Proverbs, and the Song of Songs (Solomon), Ecclesiastes has been identified as "Wisdom Literature."

It gives rise to a question: Why would a person think he or she is the exception? Since there is "nothing new under the sun," why would someone expect you or I to believe that his situation is unique in time?

An answer may include the disturbing possibility that he has been deceiving himself until he now believes it. And why would anyone ever nurture the desire to deceive himself? Could it be because he has an even greater desire to please himself? If the truth stands in the way of your desires, simply invent your own truth that fits those desires. Sadly, a person who builds a straw house finds that it has blown away long before the mortgage is paid.

C. S. Lewis said, "If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair."

Final question: What can you do to make a person turn away from the folly of insisting he or she is the exception?

Answer: Nothing. But you can and should pray that the person will be unable to resist the unconquerable truth of God.

These thoughts began near the beginning of Ecclesiastes so they will end with its conclusion:

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 (ESV)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Do I Think Too Much?

My brother-in-law, also a Pastor, recently posted with a question on facebook: "A man I just 'buried' was baptized 75 years ago but never attended church since. Is he in heaven today? What do you say? What does Scripture say?'"

Some of the replies were quotes from scripture but too many others were just personal opinions whether referencing scripture or not. Do you know what I mean? It was like saying a perfunctory prayer preceding the meal so we can go ahead and eat. As a prayer may be nothing more than changed words, using a verse in this way is sort of like, "Here's a verse from the Bible. Now let me tell you what I really think." As a matter of fact, I seem to recall a good number of "I think…" statements in those replies.

This is something I need to be more sensitive in my own life. I remember Billy Graham saying, "The Bible says…". I really liked that. It seems what I hear nowadays is more pontification than proclamation. I need to spend more time looking in the mirror for beams.