For 7 weeks, we're partnering with over 100 other churches in metro Richmond for the Explore God series. This series is especially designed for people that have spiritual questions and are exploring what they believe. For more information on the full series, as well as other Explore God opportunities we have going on, visit our Explore God page, or visit the ExploreGod.com
What’s the meaning of life? That is one of those paradigmatic “big questions” that people talk about in philosophy classes but one that we don’t think about much in daily life. Yet in reality, what we believe about the meaning of life is with us all the time, like the skeleton in our bodies that we do not see but upholds our existence. Every day decisions we make, from what we do for a living to who we marry to how we spend our money, are all undergirded by a deeper sense of the purpose of existence. Is life about pleasure? fame? success? relationships? From time to time, we may come to face to face with the question of human existence, especially through a tragedy or significant life transition, but most of the time we operate with an implicit sense of answers to the question of life’s meaning.
The book of Ecclesiastes is fascinating because it’s about a guy who decided to make the question of the meaning of life explicit. He decided to explore every way that humans tend to find meaning in life- from relationships to pleasure to work to success to sex- and test each of those answers out to the absolute limits. And because he had such vast resources available to him, he could actually do it, unlike many of us. And what he found was that what many of us fear is true: that all of it is meaningless. Nothing that humans believe will deliver meaning actually does. “Everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:11).
The book of Ecclesiastes is dark, but it is incredibly courageous and realistic. It helps us face the reality of what happens when we try to manufacture meaning by beginning with our own human experience. In the end, it suggests we will never find meaning through any of our five senses. What we need is a “sixth sense”- a capacity to see beyond what is “under the sun” to see what is beyond the sun. The good news is that the one beyond the sun has come to us in the person of Jesus- not just to forgive our sins but to restore meaning to a meaningless existence, to give us life abundant (John 10:10).
Once finalized, our weekly worship guide (bulletin) can be downloaded here.
Ecclesiastes 1:1-14, 2:10-11
1 The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”
3 What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever. 5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises. 6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north; round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course. 7 All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again. 8 All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing. 9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them.
12 I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13 I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! 14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
2 10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.