What is meaningless, and what isn't?
This past Friday for small group, we did a Bible study on Ecclesiastes 11.
Personally, I think the best way to describe meaninglessness is to look at the opposite of meaninglessness. That is, when I die and Judgment comes, which parts of my life does God keep in the "Good bin", and what parts does He toss by the wayside?
Delving deeper into this topic of death and judging our life, I believe there would be 3 "bins" total.
1) Things I did to advance His kingdom.
2) Things I did bad.
3) Everything else -- this is the "Meaningless Bin".
You might be wondering where is the "Things I did that were good" bin -- I believe this is a given as Christians that we do good things. We all know that doing good works won't get us to heaven, so why the bins? While I agree, good works aren't the ticket into heaven, I do think we'll be rewarded for our good deeds. If anything I would argue that the rewards are pretty clear even before we die, but I do think that God will reward us even more after we die. Anyway, the point is I don't think we should be rewarded for regular good things, it should be automatic.
If you want the real fire and brimstone answer, one might say God only looks at what you did wrong, and even "Things I did to advance His kingdom" fall into the "duty as Christians" bin.
So, when I die I would imagine God taking out a list of everything I did from the time of birth until my death, and categorizing each thing into one of these categories or bins.
I've been told/criticized that I often the view the world in black and white. I think the reason for that is that in my opinion, God looks at everything in black and white, and I prefer to do it this way so that I can at least attempt to see things from His perspective and thus, attempt to live the right way. (How's that for a run-on sentence?) And by "attempt" I do mean that I fail a lot. But I guess that's the point isn't it -- if I saw all grey, I'd never fail.
For instance, should Christians get baptised -- my answer is, of course. Why? Because God tells us to. It's that simple, right? Should we tithe? Of course -- why? Because God tells us to.
Yes, I am going somewhere with this. This leads into an interesting discussion we had, about what in our lives was meaningless. I shot up my hand and said my work is meaningless, which started a very interesting debate about whether or not work was meaningless. After all, if God provided us with jobs, how could they be meaningless?
I guess that depends on how you see yourself in the big picture -- God's picture. Let's say you're a computer programmer for Microsoft -- maybe you think God gave you that job so that you could make really good programs so that people could run Windows and not have headaches from all the bugs. Or, you could have a broader view -- God gave you this job so that you could bring your co-workers to Him. Or even broader, God gave you this job so that you could earn enough money to live a comfortable life and then spend every other waking hour serving Him. Maybe God didn't give you that job at all, it was Satan all along and that explains why often your work interferes with the ministries you're involved with, or simply doesn't give you any time to serve God at all.
I'm sorry but if you're a programmer for Microsoft, my opinion is that what you do at work is meaningless. What I do at work is also meaningless. I think at some point during our conversation on Friday night, Stan (SG leader) felt bad that I thought my job was meaningless and tried to find some hope for me, by saying that because I work for the government, my work affects the public and the people of Toronto. While I appreciated the gesture and assurance, I don't need that kind of silly justification about my job. I can fully accept that it's meaningless. It's not a big deal for me.
Another one I've heard is "if I don't do my job, then the company will be in bigtrouble". Unless your company is SIM, World Vision, or your local church, or you're working in medicine or teaching, -- I'd shuffle that one into the meaningless bin too.
So why did God give me this job in the first place? I believe my purpose there is to build meaningful relationships, show and pass on Christ's love, and answer questions if needed. I'm in contact with literally hundreds of different people.. I support an application that is, thankfully, full of bugs so I get to talk to a lot of different people. Sometimes things just happen to come up and I find myself talking about my faith, about God, about the bible. Just the other day a muslim friend of mine called me to get a report working and then while we were waiting for the page to load, he starts asking me about the bible.
For me, that's when my job becomes meaningful.
I started writing this post a few days ago, kept putting it off.. I'm still not finished but I think I should just publish so people can discuss.
What in your life do you find meaningless, and why do you suppose God put this meaningless thing in your life?