Hahaha. I would love to see your faces when you read that title.
Anyways, today I want to address how the Bible completely destroys cultural manhood. Not Claude, but how the Bible smashes the American dream, the American pursuit of happiness, the culture's definition of success. I just wanna be, I just wanna be successful (Drake voice). The Book of Ecclesiastes completely blows culture's definition of success right out of the water, especially if you believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. If you do, you're going to love this. Ready? Let's go.
The Book of Ecclesiastes was written by King Solomon who was known for his wisdom, wealth, and power. I'm going to do a lot of paraphrasing to get through this. It's written with a lot of metaphors and imagery, so it can be a little difficult to read. So I'll give some assistance but definitely recommend you going to read it for yourself.
When I look across the landscape of the American Dream as it is defined in our
culture, I see a high pursuit of money. I see a consistency of Tweets and Facebook statuses of people pursuing their dreams and wanting to be successful and make money and let me stop and say this before we get started---I'm not anti college or anti dream chasing. I'm not anti work hard or whatever. However, out of conviction and recognition of God, I must be more concerned about the true hope, and that's salvation security because of Jesus, life granted and sins forgiven, rescued from destruction. Okay? Cool. I'll continue.
So the first chapter, King Solomon seems to be in turmoil because he is realizing how vain this world is. The same thing happens everyday. Babies are born. People die. The sun rises, it goes down. There is nothing really new, everything has already been done. Then in Chapter 2 he talks about how he is going to test out how vain life really is. Now, remember King Solomon is very wealthy, so he conducts this experiment to give himself everything his body calls for to see what happens to him. "I said in my heart, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself." Eccl.2:1 And "whatever my eyes desired I not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil." Eccl.2:10
So he enlarged his works. He built houses and vineyards for himself. He made himself gardens and parks, and planted in these parks fruit trees. Then he made ponds of water to irrigate the FOREST of growing trees. (Note that please. He's building forests. Don't sleep on how wealthy this man is). He bought male and female slaves. (A sign of wealth in his day) He had great possessions of herds and flocks, more than anyone before him. (Another sign of great wealth in his day) He gathered silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. He got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man. Which means, "I had what every man wants." Eccl 2:4-8
So in case you missed it, I'll repeat. So this man has money to where he is building anything he wants. He's building forests for himself. Not planting trees, but building forests. He even has to build ponds to keep them watered and nourished. So clearly this isn't a regular garden where he can turn a sprinkler on to water the plants. This makes your garden look like a sandbox to a beach. He's building parks and has great numbers of herds and flocks, more than anyone. And check this out, when he mentions concubines, here's the number according to historical data--King Solomon over the span of his life he had 700 wives and 300 concubines.
So if you're a guy, here me right now. King Solomon is the envy of our hearts right? He has the status, the wealth, the position, the glory, the girls, the girls, and....the girls. He has it all. He's the Cam Newton of Cam Newtons, and the LeBron James of that Cam Newton who is above the Cam Newtons, and the Michael Jordan who is above the LeBron James who is above the Cam Newton of the Cam Newtons.
Did I lose you? He's the icon of cultural manhood. If he was alive right now we'd all be secretly wishing we were him and hating on him for it. Like, bro, come on son, you know you ain't getting 1000 girls in your life time.
So King Solomon is sitting at the pinnacle of the American Dream. Like he's bigger than the richest person in America, balling out of control with the things he's doing. So he's saying, "Listen people, I've seen it all, I've done it all, I've accomplished it all, I've reached a place many, okay, lets be honest, most of you will not ever reach." And the purpose of this book, written by a man with his vantage point, guess what he is saying?
"Don't waste your time chasing that stuff. It's like chasing after the wind. It's all vanity. It's worthless. It gets you nowhere."
Now I believe the point of this book of the Bible is to illustrate the vanity of life without God, and King Solomon in all his wisdom is dropping some major nuggets for us. That this life is just like chasing after the wind. We're hear for such a short time. The accolades and the accomplishments can not be taken with us. The money and the fame and all the sexual partners does nothing in the end. Yeah it gives us credibility and good stories and jokes and Twitter ReTweets, but its all vanity. King Solomon even calls us out by saying Chapter 4, "Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless---like chasing the wind."
Hahaha, dang. Now that's a call out. He goes so far as to say you just want to be successful because someone else is. You just want the status and girls because someone else does. Hahaha. The Bible cracks me up sometimes.
So what's the point of the book? Is it to depress you about life and make you a couch potato and not to pursue anything? Haha. No. Here's the point of the book.
There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? Eccl 2:24
See that word toil? It's referring to our lives. It means somehow we must find enjoyment in the fact that this life is worthless work and effort towards nothing. Like think about it, that college degree is not eternal. That career is not eternal. So why do we work so hard for these things? But he's not saying DON'T work for these things. King Solomon is suggesting just know that there's something greater and bigger going on. You have an eternity to think about. You have an eternity to consider. And when I say consider, I mean being sure I'm taking seriously this question, "Where do I want to spend it?" Because whether you agree with it or not, the day will come when you die and you are faced with the reality of "my life was wasted away doing nothing. I made big deals out of nothing. I got hyped up about nothing. I stayed up long nights dreaming and chasing after nothing----and ignored the truth of I have an eternity to consider." Like if you were on your death bed, you won't be whining about some of the stuff we whine about. Instead, you'd be thinking about what's next for me? When I close my eyes in a few seconds, what's on the other side?
And what are we doing to prepare for it? Have I made things right between God and I? Because what I'm finding consistently is that not many people want Hell. You'll run into a few rappers and whoever else dare to make statements about Hell as if they're sure of their destruction, which grieves me by the way, but everybody wants Heaven--but not God. We want the fried chicken but not the high cholesterol. We want the high calorie food but not the weight gain. We want the security and goodness of eternal salvation in Heaven but not the God, the Giver and Sustainer of life.
So sir, madaam. I'm glad that you gets money. I'm glad that you're super focused on your career and your dream chasing. But here me right now, just for a second.
That will fail you. It will prove to be vain and pointless. You'll long for something greater when you reach what you're so consumed with and finding your entire identity in. And trust me....this something greater, it's what you want. You want the fact that life is bigger and greater than what we're running around doing right now. You want that. You want a God that's bigger and greater than you. You want a God that provides life and joy so that you can enjoy the vanity of this world, because you are resting in the true hope, knowing that greater is ahead of you. Without that, we'd be doomed for a game with no ending. Wasted energy. Busy work. The race with no prize. Volunteers for nothing. We'd be left just chasing after the wind.
Imagine yourself doing that, chasing after the wind. Lol. You'd look like an idiot.
That's basically what King Solomon is saying. Don't be an idiot, chase after God instead.