A Preaching Excerpt: Being Out of Control

I am continuing to preach through the book of Ecclesiastes every Sunday; I'm still serving as the substitute pastor of our church as we continue searching for a permanent replacement. 

This week I'm intending to preach on Ecclesiastes 7:15-18, which I think is one of the more difficult sections of the Bible to talk about since it on the surface is at odds with what we would expect to find in the Bible.  It is useful precisely because of that, since it prevents any easy, "Sunday School Answer" from being given.  It forces people to actually think and consider what it's point might be.

One aspect of the passage, which is a concept that shows up more than once in Ecclesiastes, is the apparent random distribution of blessings and sufferings.  As human beings, we want to imagine that we can control the outcome of our lives: if we are good, good will happen to us and vice versa. But Ecclesiastes argues that it doesn't really work that way. We can't guarantee a good outcome to our lives just by always doing the right thing or making the right choices.  As the author of Ecclesiastes says elsewhere in the text "time and chance happen to all."

An illustration I intend to use to demonstrate how little we actually control our lives is as follows:

You’re all moving around at ludicrous amounts of speed right now and you can’t do anything about it.

The firm ground beneath your feet is moving about 1000 miles per hour heading that away (point west), due to the Earth rotating on its axis.  Meanwhile, the ground beneath your feet is also moving around the sun at about 67 thousand miles per hour, while the sun, around which the ground beneath your feet is spinning is careening in orbit around the galactic core at about 490 thousand miles per hour.  On top of that, the galaxy we call the Milky Way, along with the other galaxies in our neighborhood are also rushing at a speed of about 2 million, 237 thousand miles per hour towards a structure called the Great Attractor, a region of space roughly 150 million light-years away from us.  I suppose it’s a wonder all that spinning about doesn’t make us dizzy; good thing for gravity.

You're moving around constantly, and your choices have absolutely nothing to say about any of it.