Sunday, July 02, 2006
Where do you go when the best of human wisdom can’t supply meaning to life (Eccl 1.12-18; 2.12-17), & when pleasure can’t supply satisfaction either (2.1-11)? Try work (2.17-26)! Thus the Preacher takes us from the contemplative life; wisdom is the way of meaning, to the sensuous life; pleasure as the way of meaning & satisfaction, to the active life, work, vocation, projects, activity as the way that meaning can be supplied for life.
I’m reminded of Maynard G. Krebs, Dobie Gillis's best friend on the TV series "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis". Played by Bob Denver, Maynard was the first beatnik on national TV.
His speech was full of colorful phrases such as "You rang?" and "Like, I'm getting all misty". But, for me, Maynard G. Krebs will always be best remembered for his response whenever anyone mentioned the subject of work. He would instantaneously shudder, and let out a plaintiff cry of "WORK!?!?"
One of the most moving points in the whole OT is found in Ecclesiastes 2.20b: “I despaired of all of the fruit of my labor”!
Now, work is a wonderful thing, & a work ethic is a wonderful thing, & our work ethic is a great strength, & by & large, has come to us from biblical origins, but the evil one can use even good things against us & if we’re trying to find meaning in our work alone, if we’re trying to find significance & satisfaction in our work, then the Preacher is telling us we’ll not find it there.
Nevertheless, when work is done in and for the Lord, it benefits others and honors God. In fact, it’s in creative activity that we externalize our identities as people made in the image of God. After all, work is not a result of the fall! It’s a part of God’s created order for humanity (Gen 2:5, 15), and it’s patterned after God Himself. We are called to do our work as unto the Lord (Eph 6:5-8; Col 3:23-24).