Do you ever feel like life is redundant? I can’t be the only one right? Get up, eat breakfast, go to work, do the same thing at work that you did yesterday, come home, make dinner, play with the kids, get the gang in bed, and then you do it all over again. This I would call micro-redundancy. Then there is macro-redundancy. This is more like annual events. You have said it too right, is it really _________ again? It is really finals again, the beginning of the school year, Christmas, the ballet recital, Easter, graduation, or pick any other yearly thing you do.
Life can feel redundant, even for the best of us. I think often of people who have monotonous jobs like factory workers, when I think of redundancy. I had one of those jobs for several years. In reality those of us with other types of jobs still can feel redundant. We always have the greener grass syndrome.
When I think of redundancy in Scripture, I think of King Solomon. He wrote the poetic philosophical book of Ecclesiastes. There is actually very little written about this book. While the Gospels have perhaps hundreds of commentaries written on them, there may only be five to ten decent ones written on Ecclesiastes. This is sad, because this book has so much to offer.
Solomon is struggling with redundancy. Or another way we could say it is that he is struggling with purpose. He asks some of life’s deepest questions: why are we here, or better yet, why am I here? He begins the book using the word vanity several times. This word has nothing to do with the teenager overdressed for school. In this context it has the idea of worthlessness or pointlessness. It is the thought of purposelessness.
Solomon would be one of the last people we would think would contemplate life as purposeless. He was rich, had many relationships, very intelligent, had status, and the list goes on. But Solomon isn’t thinking about life as pointless for himself in the scope of his life. He is thinking about his life in the scope of eternal existence. He’s thinking of his life as just a speck of dust in a mound of a myriad of other lives that have gone, or that will come. In other words, he’s not asking how his life is important to himself or those around him, but what is it’s significance in the grand scope of eternity.
He goes through topic after topic, book after book, talking about so many worthless things that we do in life. A plethora of things that seem pointless. I don’t think that Solomon is saying this just because it appears to be a great self-help book that would make a best seller list. I think He truly feels like this. How could Solomon feel like this? Part of my theory is because he studied ancient wisdom and literature. He was often reminded of how someone, no matter how smart, innovative, or popular, will one day be dead. That that person, for the most part, will soon be forgotten. In studying these great people he is reminded of his own mortality.
Now he is not the first or last to think about such topics. If we look throughout history some of the big names to come up with theories are Nietzsche and Lucretius. Lucretius, a Roman poet, was born in 99 B.C. He wrote “The Nature of Things.” He believed that all life was just material, and that there was nothing spiritual, eternal, or that there was not any deity. A material life has no eternal significance. In this idea, life if hopeless.
Fast forward to the 1800’s with Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher who rose to stardom. He would write on what many call the eternal return. This blog is not long enough to talk about what it means in depth. In essence, it has to do with the idea that we are living in a loop. For someone with these ideals, life is frustrating, because there is no true end to things which pain us.
As we read Ecclesiastes, we would think that he is following the same path as Nietzsche or Lucretius. Solomon, however, gives us the “but God.” He does this smack dab in the middle of the book, and in the last two verses. He goes through all of the things that seem monotonous in life and then lists God as the great Redundancy Liberator.
What does the Redundancy Liberator do for us? He gives us purpose, He gives us hope. The Redundancy Liberator frees us from daily activities of monotony and gives us a reason for doing those things. We could elaborate much on how God does this for us individually, but I’ll save that for another time. Just know that the gift that God had given us of life has meaning, and that there is purpose for you in a crazy sinful, and sometime mundane world. That Jesus, who is the Redundancy Liberator, gives us an eternal answer, and puts into perspective the daily things that we do which seem monotonous, but are really being done for the eternal King.
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10:45 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.