One of the books of the Old Testament I used to avoid when I was a seminary student begins with the words: “Meaningless! Meaningless!...everything is meaningless.” You guessed it—Ecclesiastes, written 3000 years ago by wise King Solomon. Since it began in such a cynical fashion I felt it couldn’t really provide much inspiration for me. Sometime later when I was forced to study the book in detail I discovered that Solomon was only stating his conclusions up front about living a life without a secure tether to God, regardless of which direction it might go. The real message Solomon had to give was in the last words, not the first. He concludes his book like this: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man…”
I saw these same words rephrased in modern dress by Leon Morris in “The Cross of Jesus,” when he stated, “the tragedy of much of modern life is that the abandonment of the knowledge of God means that futility has taken over.” Those are the two words that really describe the condition of people who don’t know God: ”meaningless” and “futility.” It wouldn’t matter if you lived in an Eastern culture 3000 years ago or in the Western culture of today. You always arrive at the same dead end when you omit God from your everyday life. That is a description of what has taken over our own nation. Of course that problem has always been around, but never has it so absorbed the lives of so many of our people. The greatest mission field we face is not across the ocean in some third world country. It is barely across the street. The culture most lost to the gospel is our own. I believe they are not so much lost like the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable, but more like the lost sheep. They are just out there, a long way from where they should be, they can make no real sense out of their surroundings and they have no idea how to get home. That is why every Christian is a rescuer or, if you please, a shepherd. We should be the first to notice their location, their futility, their meaningless lives, and provide loving directions back to the sheep pen where the Good shepherd waits to welcome them home where they belong.
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship