Formations Lesson for Oct- 24- Taking Time for God
October 12 2010 by Christopher Moore, minister of education, children and senior adults, Durham Memorial Baptist Church, Durham

Focal Passage: Ecc. 12:1-8, 13-14

Cartoon characters always have an interesting way of making decisions. Whenever there is a crisis of conscience two tiny figures will materialize, one on each shoulder. One will be a haloed, angelic being who gently prods the character to do right; the other will be an impish little creature, clad in red spandex and brandishing a pitchfork, who tempts the character to do wrong. Alas, if it were that simple for us! Suffice it to say, our “internal dialogues” are a bit more complex.

Qohelet concludes his book with an impassioned plea for the young to remember God before their lives wind down. The poetry is beautiful, even if the message remains dismal. 

Life devolves in a downward spiral until Qohelet can no longer resist exclaiming once more, “[A]ll is vanity!” (v. 8). Not long thereafter, comes the kicker: “Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone,” (v. 13). The hands that are thrown up in frustration are now lifted in praise.

The seeming incongruity of these statements (“All is vanity” on the one hand, and “Fear God” on the other) have led many to believe that Ecclesiastes 12:9-14 was added by a later editor. Such editorial work may very well be an attempt to shore up the edges of a book that has ended on a less than cheery note. Nevertheless, verses 13-14 provide a provocative juxtaposition that should not be ignored, for it is in these verses that we recognize our own tension between pessimism and praise.

One of Qohelet’s emphases has been the limit of human existence and knowledge. While humans can acknowledge the mystery of the divine, they cannot presume to understand it. In short, humans know enough to know they don’t know much.

Yet, this ignorance can be dangerous, especially if humans come to the point that they do all thinking and no acting. For example, we may not know exactly how prayer “changes” things in our lives, but that doesn’t mean we stop praying. We may not understand a lot of the hard sayings of scripture, but that doesn’t mean we stop reading the Bible. We may be frustrated with bureaucracy and hypocrisy in the church, but that doesn’t mean we stop attending. Instead, we keep praying, we keep reading, and we keep going. 

In a world saturated with vanity, we must remember that fully understanding God is not a prerequisite for fully serving God.

The fear of the Lord comes before wisdom (Ps. 111:10), and not as a result of it.      
10/12/2010 10:22:00 AM by Christopher Moore, minister of education, children and senior adults, Durham Memorial Baptist Church, Durham | with 0 comments

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