Some might find it absurd if a pastor mentioned the Rolling Stones in a sermon. Unless of course, he needed an example of the wages of sin and excess. One look at Mick Jagger’s face is all one needs to know about the damage one can do to himself seeking worldly success and pleasures. That is why the Stones came to mind when AnOldSinner was contemplating what to share in this piece.
My home church just completed a sermon series titled, The Search for Satisfaction. One sermon was “Candle Smoke and Cotton Candy.” As usual the sermon was a good one, informative, touching and entertaining. It was also thought-provoking, but possibly not as the pastor intended.
Before going on, it seems appropriate to talk about the Stones for a moment. Keith Richards and Mick Jagger penned “Satisfaction” in 1965. It is unlikely either of them was thinking of King Solomon or the Book of Ecclesiastes when they wrote it. Yet, the basic theme of the song, the lack of satisfaction one finds in the world of man is simply echoing the thoughts of King Solomon.
The Stones made boatloads of money pointing out in song what the pastor was preaching. There is no true satisfaction in our earthly lives. Possibly without realizing it, the Stones were saying, looking for satisfaction in things and other people is little more than candle smoke and cotton candy as the pastor taught in his sermon.
AnOldSinner has no disagreement with the message in “Satisfaction” or the message in Ecclesiastes. There is nothing new under the sun, and there is no satisfaction to be found in things or other sinners. Still, one point made in the sermon, and later in discussions with other believers, raised a question.
The pastor listed a set of what were labeled Sad Facts at the end of his analysis. They were drawn from Ecclesiastes 1:1-18. Three were very clear, and easy to comprehend. No matter how hard one tries, nothing is permanent. No matter how long one seeks, not even our appetites, whatever they may be, can be permanently satisfied. No matter what one does, changing or stopping the aging process is not possible. The last sad fact is the one that gave me pause. It was, “You cannot fill the void within that yearns for meaning in life.”
The pastor wrapped up the sermon speaking of the substance of real satisfaction. He noted we cannot find satisfaction without being connected to God, and he drew from Solomon’s words to encourage us to live a life in which we do good for others, take time to smell the roses, gain satisfaction from our work, and give thanks to God for what He has given us.
I understand the sermon and what was intended. Yet I still question the sad fact about yearning. To me, there is a danger in not yearning. Yes, yearning for more money, more fame, more respect, more friends, more time, and fewer struggles is pointless in an eternal sense. It is also dangerous in an earthly sense. Again, take a look at Jagger’s face. He has paid a price for all the fame, fortune and other benefits those things bring, and all those will end with his last breath.
Does that mean one should never yearn? That is the point one could take from the sermon. It may not be the point the pastor intended, but that is the way some could interpret the sad fact statement about yearning.
I would argue one should yearn. The problem, which the pastor clearly identified, is we yearn for the wrong things. What we should yearn for is a closer walk with the Lord. What we should yearn for is more connection with and understanding of His Word. What we should yearn for is the opportunity to witness to others through our lives or our testimonies. Of course, the real problem is not whether or not we yearn for something. The real problem is we do not take action.
Yearning, whether one yearns for possessions or to be a light unto the world, is not enough. One must do something. AnOldSinner knows many people who yearn to be better Christians, better witnesses, better evangelists, better spouses, or better parents. The problem is too many people sit on their backsides waiting for Jesus to take them by the hand and show them what to do.
John 15:5 states, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”(ESV) Some seem to read this verse and think it validates their decision to wait for Jesus to take them by the hand and lead them. Someone making such a decision might be right, but it seems hard to believe.
A story one of our pastors told to a Sunday School class years ago came to mind as I wrote that last paragraph. He thought it was hilarious, but it went over like a lead balloon in a classroom full of folks whose sense of humor died with Bob Hope. It does make my point however.
The story went something like this:
During her prayers one day a lady says to God. ‘”Lord! I pray and pray to win the lotto so I don’t have to work so hard, and can use the money to help others. Why haven’t I won?” At this point she pauses expectantly and hears, “First, you need to buy a lotto ticket.”
Neither he nor I am encouraging anyone to buy a lottery ticket. Both he and I are trying to make a point. If one never takes action, it is unlikely one will be rewarded. Could God miraculously deliver a winning lottery ticket to a petitioner? Of course He could, but such an act would likely be a test more than a miracle. If one truly wants God to help him or her win the lottery, one must buy a ticket.
The lottery story is shared simply to make a point. The point is this. Someone praying to become a best-selling Christian author must actually write something. God might give a writer inspiration, but it is unlikely He will deliver a best-selling manuscript to a publisher in the name of the person praying for such fame and fortune. The same is true for someone who wants to be the next Charles Spurgeon. God might give one the gifts needed to achieve that goal, but it is unlikely He will simply pick them up and drop them in a pulpit fully prepared to lead thousands of congregants.
It would seem yearning, in and of itself, is not a sad fact. The sad fact is we let fear, complacency, and false humility keep us from achieving the goals we seek in His name.
© sinnerswalk.com – 2017