Faith Hopes And Loves
Thoughts on the First Readings
Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2:21-23
There’s a strain in Christian thought that says that most everything we spend our lives working at and worrying about doesn’t much matter. The essential reality is the cosmic battle going on between God and Satan for our souls and our allegiance. Whose side we choose is the only important issue.
Do what God tells you and make the best of life. Don’t ask questions. Don’t expect much. Do your work and say your prayers and turn everything over to God might summarize this attitude.
It’s astounding that so many folks subscribe to this vision of Christian life in the face of Jesus’ assurance that his task was to transform the world. God loves the world: Jesus loved the world. He asked us to love the world: to make life more just, more loving, more generous. Doing that, he said, is the touchstone of faith.
The nub of Christian living isn’t obedience; it’s love: love of our world made possible through love and trust in the world’s Creator. That sounds simple but it’s nearly impossible, at times, to know how best to make love practical.
If we could find an authority that knew the most loving course in all circumstances, one that grasped and reflected God’s vision to us clearly and consistently, we could just salute and carry out orders. Alas, such an authority doesn’t exist.
So we push ahead, buoyed by the faith that God’s Spirit works with us. Arm in arm we feel our way through a lot of foggy days doing our best to make progress. And if, at times, we’re tempted to sigh, “Vanity; it’s all pointless,” we can take heart. Jesus loved and lived for this world. Jesus struggled and wondered just as we do but he never lost hope. He didn’t live in vain.