The “Preacher” in the book of Ecclesiastes is doing some reflection of his own. His work begins with, and is permeated by, the idea that all of life is vanity. The Hebrew word used here is getting at the idea that the entirety of life, as we experience it, is merely a vapour, or a breath. In the scope of human history, our life disappears as quickly as it appears. The “Preacher” in Ecclesiastes roots all that he says going forward in the concept that life is fleeting. There are few things as humbling as the recognition that my life is short. Coming to grips with the fact that my life is a vapour makes me re-examine what my life is centred on.
I am thankful that I came across a great article by Trillia Newbell this week. She is reflecting on the idea that as Christians we ought to make less of ourselves while making much of Jesus. In one section she asserts that:
“[It is good news that] each one of us is but a breath away from death and complete disregard. We won't be remembered, because there are billions of people in the same boat. Few will even make the history books. The same goes for our children. Entire generations will not be remembered. Why is this good news?
Because as we fight pride and embrace obscurity, we can then shift our focus on going hard for Christ.”
We fight pride through remembering the gospel.
We remember that Jesus Christ lived perfectly, died sacrificially, and rose victoriously so that we could be reconciled to God. When Christ bore our sin on the cross and defeated death through his resurrection, he offers misty people like you and me an opportunity for an eternity of being truly human in a New Creation, in the presence of God - forever. We enter into this reconciliation through repentance of our own rebellion and belief in the gospel.
The gospel does not make us prideful, because we did not, and cannot, earn our reconciliation with God. The gospel makes us humble as we receive a gift we do not deserve. In our gratefulness for the gift we received, we order our entire under the power and reign of Jesus, and we joyfully tell others that this gift is available to them too.
In his short book, “The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness”, Timothy Keller reflects on the type of humility that the gospel grows in our hearts. When we repent of our selfishness and believe the gospel, we are given the gift of forgetting ourselves so we can focus on Christ. We find our life when we are able to think about it less.
As we consider the words of the preacher, blogger, and pastor, I pray that God would help us embrace a life of "vanity" and centre our lives on what is of first importance, the gospel of Jesus Christ.