Our Work is Our Purpose, Right?Jess Davenport, October 1, 2017
Part of the What's the Point? - Ecclesiastes series, preached at a Sunday Morning service
What is futile? Is your work? For example, have you ever felt like Sisyphus who had to push a huge boulder up a mountain just to watch it roll back down again?
It seems that our work, ranging from simply trying to keep the house clean to attempting to end a treatable disease across the globe, can too often feel impossible while our efforts seem futile.
In this sermon, as we continue through the book of Ecclesiastes, we will explore the purpose of our work, or as Dr. Ellen Davis puts it, “The Perversions of Good Work.”
Part of the great gift of Christianity is we are a part of a larger global body (sometimes our differences can cause that gift to feel like a painful burden, but that is a another story and opportunity for prayer). On this Sunday, we will look at the work God has for all of us together and the ways God helps us share the load, allowing each other rest. For the moving of the boulder is a different proposition when shared. And, sometimes, we learn from one another that the boulder doesn't even need to be moved!
For as we discussed last week, we can be comfortable in doing things our own ways, or we can be free when we walk into God’s alternative and liberating ways. God is asking us to humbly acknowledge our limits and step into the uncomfortable but utterly significant and liberating work and ways of God. Thankfully, God feeds us for this challenging and freeing work with grace that is always sufficient.
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4:1 Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. 2 And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. 3 But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.
4 Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man's envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.
5 The fool folds his hands and eats his own flesh.
6 Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.
7 Again, I saw vanity under the sun: 8 one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business. (ESV)
24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.
25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (ESV)