Who are you? Who do you say you are?
Truth and search for significance is mankind’s ongoing quest in life from generation to generation upon this earth. And a relatively late burst of technological intellectualism has not diminished that need for meaning.
There is something that comes wrapped in the package of who we are that gives us a drive to delve deeper into things – anything – everything. Superficial answers don’t always satisfy. In this package there is an elusive something born in us that tells us there is much more to our identity than the image we behold in the mirror. Adding pride, pleasure, possession, position, power and wealth, or any accomplishment in no way helps, either. Nothing physical can add or detract from who we are. This intrinsic identity goes deeper. I have heard celebrities who reached the pinnacle of their field only to look around and ask, “Is this all there is? Is this all I am?” Their emptiness still lacked a sense of identity and value.
In the Bible’s Old Testament there is a small book by the name of Ecclesiastes that analyzes this very subject of man’s search for meaning. How his historical, redundant search for it is in all the wrong places. From the books beginning the author states that everything is meaningless. Quite a declaration from a book in the Bible – which is known for being a source of hope and uplifting optimism. I have heard some Christians say they stopped reading Ecclesiastes after the first chapter because the book was too dark or depressing. But the author – Solomon – is trying to get our attention. We may stop to ask: What is meaningless? Life? Solomon’s answer is yes, the natural way man tends to live his life upon this earth, generation after generation, is – meaningless. Without lasting purpose.
Solomon was a man put in a great position by God as King over Israel. He was given not only great wisdom, but also great wealth, power, and influence over other nations. And along with those things came pleasure and pride. He was also given peace on all his borders. There being no wars during his reign, Solomon had much leisure time on his hands to pursue other things. One of which was the intellectual study of human nature. Using his God given wisdom and insights, He systematically investigated by observation and experience, mankind’s habitual way of life of seeking meaningful significance from material gain. His ultimate conclusion is that a person living only for – or overly entrenched in – the material world is a life lived empty of true and lasting meaning, and without any true sense of identity. But yet it is the habit people acquire building a style of life. It seems to be learned as we observe others, taking their values as our own. And it seems to be universal to all mankind.
However, Solomon doesn’t leave us with the empty vanities he mentions in Ecclesiastes. He provides an alternative to a life devoid of true meaning in the last chapter when we are told: “ …Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecc. 12:13
I call the book of Ecclesiastes the arrow pointing directly to the Gospels of the New Testament, leading directly to the Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the way out of a pointless and empty existence.
Christ is the alternative to an emptiness that indwells so many who have been enlightened to a great need from within.
For the Christian who has become side-tracked a little too far back into the world, Ecclesiastes is the reminder where they came from and pointing the way back to the Grace that first brought them to Him. An identity in Christ is an identity for eternity – once put on it is never put off.
If you are generally satisfied with the state of your life, I hope it’s because you know the Savior. If you’re not, the Savior calls.