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A Cotton-Candy Life

Especially in this technological age, we are constantly barraged by messages marketed toward our quest for more, better and best. Advertising panders to both our deflated and inflated views of ourselves (either that we’re not enough or we deserve “x”), and it thrives off of what could be. There’s always something better out there—a newer model, a better program or a greater deal. The measuring stick constantly moves and our hunger for the next best thing only increases. Yet each of these promises, once attained, only leave us disappointed, tired, alone or unsatisfied (maybe even a combination, with other undesirables mixed in). Everything in this world is fleeting and/or changing while at the same time, nothing is new.


Sure, the diet program may have a different name and the trending social platform may have changed, but the purposes and results are the same. The former stems from our desire to look a certain way and/or be in the best physical shape (both subjective matrices established by culture), often accomplished with the least amount of effort required on our part. In terms of our communication, the form may change, but each invention has been done in the name of our desire to interact with others, whether that be to acquire and dispense information or forge relationships.


We live in a paradigm of always changing yet always the same. As it says in Ecclesiastes 1:9-10:


“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’? It has been already in the ages before us.”


Though many aspects of life are “good” (beneficial, enjoyable), none of them are permanent nor do their promises last. Inevitably you will not stick to the diet, the relationship will cease, the career will end, technology will change, leaders will come and go, clothes will wear out, finances will shift and so on. And with them, the happiness, fulfillment, purpose, worth, peace, excitement and security they promised or once held. Like a vapor, they are here one moment and gone the next. Everything done without the greater picture in mind is a delicate flower, easily wisped away with the slightest breeze or obliterated by a passing storm.

Orange painted brick wall with "new" painted in all white and in all caps
Nick Fewings photo | Unsplash

Where does this leave us? Hopeless and depressed? Forlorn over the futility of life and its so-called perks? By no means!


Our hope lies in the thought (the phrase) mentioned above: “the greater picture.”


What is this grand image and how do we realize it? The answer to the former is easy for it is eternity; the rub comes with the second question, for the response depends on to whom we devote our lives and the truth we believe.


Contrary to what our world tells us, truth is absolute. It can be nothing but because that is its very essence; if it were anything else, it would not be truth but opinion or conjecture. We cannot in one breath say truth is absolute and point to the Laws of Physics as proof and in the next breath say truth is subjective and use the whims of culture as our support.


Truth either is or it is not, it by definition cannot be both.


One Roman governor once asked, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). The irony of his question was not the ponderance itself (for most, if not all, of us have wondered the same at least once in our lives) but its recipient. Pontius Pilate, the governor of Rome in A.D. 33, posed this question to none other than the One who is the Truth: Jesus Christ (see John 14:6 for Jesus’ proclamation as the Truth). It is upon Him that our above two questions hinge.


We live in a world constantly set on a quest for the best, yet most ignore or flat-out deny the best.

Our response to Jesus, the Truth, determines our eternity and subsequently the purpose of our lives; it influences every decision we make and determines our outlook on the results of those decisions. When we do things solely for the benefit of ourselves, any and all positive outcomes are fleeting and lackluster. We live in a world constantly set on a quest for the best, yet most ignore or flat-out deny the best.


Jesus said He came to give people life and life abundantly (John 10:10). He promises that even our labor, when done in and for Him, will not be in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). He guarantees to personally work all things together for good (Romans 8:28). He professes these great truths and numerous others for those who believe in Him and give (dedicate) their lives to Him (see Rom. 8:28).


These rights are universal in the sense they are available to everyone, but they are exclusive because they apply only to those who accept them and the One from whom they come (see John 3:16-18). Just as you cannot legally reap the benefits of a family without being a member, you cannot claim the rights as a child of God without being a child of God (see John 1:12-13).

Stacked Scrabble tiles spelling, "I am the truth."
Brett Jordan photo | Unsplash

Jesus extends this invitation to everyone—it’s why the body of Christ (the Christian family) is not perfect, it’s open to and full of imperfect people—but not everyone accepts the invitation. God wishes no one to perish (2 Peter 3:9), but He does not force anyone to choose Him. He gives each of us the choice, knowing required love is no love at all, and He deserves our wilful love.


When we exercise that choice by believing God at His Word, accepting His sacrifice which paid the penalties for our sins (every wrong we have committed against Him) and dedicate our lives to Him, He bestows on us blessings immeasurable and eternal (see Rom. 8:16-17, Philippians 4:16-17, 1 Peter 2:24). Unlike anything in this world, what God says proves true and does not fade nor change (see Numbers 23:19, Hebrews 6:18, 1 John 5:20). Just as He has always been and always will be the same (see James 1:17, Revelation 1:8), so are the blessings He extends to His people (His children), including those mentioned above regarding abundant life, fruitful labor and ultimate good.


Again it is said in Ecclesiastes, “...whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it…That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been” (3:14-15).


A life lived in, for and with God is always with purpose and guarantees a never-ending list of return on investments, namely peace, joy, love, wisdom and security. Yet, the greatest rewards are those in relationship with God Himself: Jesus’ payment for our sins, our subsequent restored relationship with Him and new identity as redeemed children of God, the Holy Spirit living within us and promised eternity with God in Heaven.


"...whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it..." Ecclesiastes 3:14

Everything outside of life for God is fleeting, lackluster, disappointing and frivolous. Yes, it may deliver happiness, fulfillment and security for a time, but as with all things of this world, even those things will end (see Rom. 8:5-7, 1 John 2:15-17). As pastor Harry Reeder says, “The life and rebellion against God is sugar-coated air. You bite, there’s a moment of sweetness, and then it’s nothing but empty.”


Just as empty calories are not beneficial for our physical health, neither is a life devoid of meaning and purpose. Only a life redeemed by Jesus and lived with, for and in Him leads to life everlasting, both in this life and in the one to come (see John 3:16, 5:24). Yes, life will still have its trials for Satan still exists and therefore evil and sin, but every difficulty we face is not without a purpose, at least not for those who dedicate their lives to God (see Genesis 50:20, Rom. 8:18, James 1:2-4).


When He is the One for whom we live, every setback, disappointment and pain we endure is part of the greater picture, one of lasting good, peace and joy. Certain parts of our lives may not be good in themselves, but the end result is good; life is not evaluated by its individual moments but the sum of its parts. Once more we read in Ecclesiastes, man “will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart” (5:20).

Cotton candy being spun
Brandi Alexandra photo | Unsplash

A life lived for self is nothing more than cotton candy: sweet for a second, gone the next (for more on the futility of living for self, see Eccl. 2:1-11). This path only leads to destruction for a life separate from God now results in permanent separation from Him as you spend eternity with Satan in hell (see 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10). On the other hand, a life lived for, in and with God delivers immeasurable peace, joy, purpose and security. Any glories we behold here are just a glimpse of those awaiting us in Heaven with God.


Which will you choose: sugar-coated air or the sweet, eternal promises of God?




References:


English Standard Version Bible. (2001). Crossway Bibles.


Guthrie, Nancy, host. "Harry Reeder on Teach Ecclesiastes." Help Me Teach the Bible,

Castbox app, The Gospel Coalition, 28 May 2020.



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