“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”  What do people get for all their hard work under the sun?  Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-4)
Somebody is a little grumpy!
While King Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, might at times seem like he needs a hug, it’s because he is describing life without a relationship with Jesus.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the Bible never says that people without faith in Jesus can’t do great things. There are countless stories of amazing men and women currently, and throughout history, who are fighting noble fights.
Noble fights like working to see diseases cured, bringing aid to poverty, engaging systemic injustices, caring for the overlooked and oppressed. Each of these fights has a thread that can be traced back to foundational truths found in the Bible about our value and worth as human beings created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). But, while anyone with a pulse can do great things, the Bible is clear that without faith, no one can please God (Heb. 11:6).
This wasn’t an issue in the beginning of creation. The noble fights mentioned above were non-existent. In fact, there were no fights to fight. Humanity was created to enjoy God. Enjoy God in relationship (Gen. 1:26-27). Enjoy God in work (Gen. 1:15). Enjoy God in relationship with one another (Gen. 1:18-25).
To the contrary of King Solomon’s words, humanity in Genesis 1 and 2 screams “Everything is meaningful! There is meaning in everything!” Because it all springs forth out of the fullness of a relationship with God.
Can you imagine that? A time when you were completely satisfied and at peace. There is no trying to squeeze purpose out of your career, or what others think about you. No confusion about who you are, and what defines you.
King Solomon’s cries of meaninglessness rang true because the state of Genesis 1 and 2 didn’t last past Genesis 3. It’s in Genesis 3 that humanity chose rebellion and passivity to the paradise of an eternal relationship with God (Gen. 3:1-21).
Humanity is then sent into a spiral of living with the consequences of our choices. Namely, disconnected from God in relationship and now to live life in a world that is broken. A world where evil and injustice roars like there’s a new king in charge.
Cue Good News.
The older I get the more I treasure Christmas and the visual reminders driving through the city that something extraordinary happened years ago. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, stepped out of the riches of Heaven to fulfill a promise made in Genesis 3.
Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, our lives can be restored to the joy and peace we were created for a relationship with God. It doesn’t mean that our lives become perfect, or we get rich, but we are pulled out of our spiritual deadness and meaninglessness to lives made alive and filled with purpose in Christ.
All of our lives, not just time in church on Sunday mornings, or when the Bible is open, or doing “Christian activities,” are filled with purpose. Washing the dishes, spending time with family, having a hard conversation with a loved one, sharing the Good News with a neighbor, or eating a great meal.
All of it has purpose and can be done in worship, not of the thing itself, but out of the Creator of that good gift and every good gift (James 1:17).