June 17, 2016 - Vanity, Vanity

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.
But store up treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be."

Matthew 6:19

One of the best selling books of all time (!) was Rick Warren’s, The Purpose Driven Life.  Our secular lives are defined by achievement, goals, measurable success.  Vast swaths of our language of faith revolves around doing the will of God, following Jesus, imitating Jesus – in short: serving a purpose.  It is seductive because it allows us to do what comes naturally: measure ourselves against one another.  But Scripture most often tells us that we don’t have to serve a purpose to be loved.  In fact, just reflecting on our lives for a moment reveals that anything we accomplish will, in time, be forgotten, and all the monuments we may build eventually crumble.  In the opening words of Ecclesiastes, the prophet complains, “all is in vain. All is in vain. What profit hath man of all his labor under the sun?  That which has been is that which shall be; and that which hath been done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”

Today’s reading invites us transcend not only the accumulation of wealth, but the striving for purpose.  Faith is not a moral code to be followed.  It is a transcendent message that we are not defined by what we can do for God.  Our lives may serve no purpose but they are suffused with meaning.  That is grace.