This update is from a recent meeting of ASK Daegu. Each member contributed something to the message that follows. We pray that our group encourages you in the same way that it encouraged all of us.
Read Ecclesiastes 4 here.
“For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”
Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we live in a way that isolates us? Why do we live in a way that causes division? Why do we live in a way that serves ourselves, all the while fostering the suffering and oppression of others?
From the beginning, the lie of Satan– that we were created not to submit to God but to escape his oppressive presence and in turn be gods unto ourselves– has successfully deprived people of the enjoyment they were created to have, and led them into a life of oppression, toil and friendlessness. In the position of God we assume the roles of creator and judge. From this lofty and isolated throne we cast out judgment that only we can meet and create a world grounded in the criticism of what others do and the envy of what they have that we do not. As God and therefore, Creator, we are left to our own power and will to create for ourselves “joy.” The lie is that we can. The truth is that, as a result of sin, our hearts are created to be fulfilled by God alone, and are hopelessly weak and depleted when fed by anything but him.
One goal is achieved and another, slightly higher, appears. One good day is overshadowed by the new day, which presents the same (or even more) obstacles than the last, poised to thwart yesterday’s satisfaction. But the persistent, relentless push of this lie convinces us that joy can be be attained, that the problem does not rest in the self but in the distraction of others and that their presence interferes with our attainment of true happiness.
When we take this place of counterfeit deity, the true nature of God is entirely beyond our reach. The triune God of creation has always known fellowship. He can profess being in His very nature, love. As creations made in His image, we were created, not only for fellowship with our creator, but also with one another through the love of the Father. This fellowship is where “joy” is found, the joy that God has always desired for us. This joy neither feeds the self, nor divides the whole. This joy does not create toil, oppression or friendlessness, as the lie of Satan ultimately will. This joy found in the Father and in the gospel of Jesus Christ promises peace, freedom and love. We, as humans, have never demonstrated that we can hold the place of God. Why do we do this to ourselves?