The purpose of life
Ecclesiastes 7: God made men and women true and upright; we’re the ones who’ve made a mess of things.
As part of his search for purpose Solomon seeks out people of wisdom. The result of his search is disappointing. He reports that not one person in a thousand measures up to that standard. Solomon is looking for people of depth, who have thought out the meaning of life and come to some conclusions. Instead, he finds that most people stay in the shallow end of the pool, never considering much beyond their next meal. The saddest thing, as far as he is concerned, is that it doesn’t have to be that way. The Creator created humans with the potential for greatness. This isn’t about the possibility of solving the mysteries of science. Instead, it’s about finding meaning to life itself. It’s of great value to consider “why I am here and where I am going.” The answer is the one we seem most intent on ignoring: “God.” It’s my connection to the divine that gives meaning to my life. He not only made me, but he made me for a purpose. When I live without recognizing that, I, in the words of Ecclesiastes, make “a mess of things.”
Take Away: It’s my connection to the divine that gives meaning to my life.
The Church: Christ at work in the world
Ephesians 1: The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world, the world is peripheral to the church.
Paul’s writing is filled with superlatives as he begins his letter to the church at Ephesus. God’s people, he tells us, have within our grasp “the immensity of this glorious way of life” and it’s with “utter extravagance” that the Lord bestows his gifts on his people. He tells us that all this comes from one Source: Jesus Christ. Jesus makes all the difference in (and out of) the world. It’s not “here and there” or “them and us.” The glorious plan and possibility is that in Christ everything comes together. This great Unifier works through and with a specific group of people who have made him Lord of their lives. That group, we’re told, is the Church. Obviously, Paul’s not talking about a denomination here and he’s certainly not thinking of some local body of believers. This is the “capitol-C” Church. It’s through this body, “his body,” that Jesus is bringing everything together. As I look at the Church today, it’s a mistake for me to only focus on its failings. Jesus sees the Church as his body and as the hope of the world. Even as I acknowledge its failures, I’d better remember its purpose and the source of its power and authority in the world.
Take Away: God has chosen to work through the Church to bring salvation to the world.