There is an important difference between guilt and guilt feelings. The distinction is between that which is objective and that which is subjective. Guilt is objective; it is determined by a real analysis of what a person has done with respect to law. When a person transgresses a law, that person incurs guilt. This is true in the ultimate sense with regard to the law of God. Whenever we break the law of God, we incur objective guilt. We may deny that the guilt is there. We may seek to excuse it or deal with it in other ways. Still, the reality is that we have the guilt.
Man was created for the purpose of joy. But why is it that music, money and fame can never bring ultimate joy? Finite things will never fill the infinite hole that sin has left within a person’s heart. This quest will never find its resolve until its focus is centered upon Christ. Saint Augustine once stated, “Our hearts will be restless, until they find their rest in thee.” The Christian narrative offers hope for those whose affections are placed upon Christ.
This is what comes to mind when I read through the Book of Ecclesiastes. It’s a book in which the Teacher systematically examined every part of life under the sun. He held up pleasure, work, time, knowledge, and even wisdom itself, and with each one, found it wanting. That’s the recurrent refrain throughout the book after each aspect of life is examined – Meaningless! Vanity! Each and every time.
Pastors should not come to this book as if we are professional sword-fighters, putting on a show in front of an audience we hope to wow with our skills of how we can toss and juggle a sword and flip it around. That’s playing with a sword as part of a show, not wielding a sword as part of a battle.
The “allegorical” readings of the Patristic Fathers, the Catholic flavor of the first thousand or so years of church history, etc. are not reasons to abandon pre-Reformation theology. And yet, so many evangelicals immediately bristle at this notion on the principle that we should care more about the five solae of the Reformation. These five truths recovered the gospel in many minds. I recently wrote a study on the five solae, so I understand this sentiment and greatly appreciate the correctives that came with it. The Reformation was an act of God—I truly believe that—but we should consider two things.
Here’s a truth about me: waves scare me. There is no way to tame the waves of my ever-in-transition life and I am unable to control the tide. No movies about tsunamis, sea storms, or constant transition for this girl.
These waves were familiar to Job. He endured constant changes, and each one brought more sorrow than the next. His pain was beyond anything I could imagine. In Job 8, his “friend” Bildad explained all the reasons God would ease Job’s suffering.
A favorite from the archives:
A few months back, I started sharing a few stories of really foolish things I did when I was between 8 and 10 years old. Things like: jumping off a roof to see if a man (or, in this case, boy) could fly. Defying my mother and getting an ATM card for my bank account after she explicitly told me not to. Or finding all the Christmas presents during a sick day, opening and playing with them all, and then attempting to cover my tracks by “rewrapping”all the presents.
Y’know, the typical idiotic stuff you can expect an eight-year-old boy to do.