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Apathy Rules
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 1:1-11; Hebrews 11:6; John ...
Track 2 of 10 in the Pipe Dream series
Running time: 1 hour, 09 minutes, 57 seconds.
Apathy rules and nobody seems to care. Life isn't simply tragic. Life is dull. H. L. Mencken said it well, The basic fact about human experience is not that it is a tragedy, but that it is a bore. It is not that it is predominantly painful, but that it is lacking in any sense.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Apathy Rules
Ecclesiastes 1:1-11

Does apathy rule? Give me examples.

I think of our country today; the very freedoms that our founding fathers risked their fortunes and lives for are being takes away one by one and most of our country seems not to care. How can our politicians and lawmakers get away with so many terrible things in creating laws that make us less free and no one seems to hold them accountable for what they do. It seems they can do what they want and nobody does anything about it. Oh we might complain but who really cares anyway?

Apathy rules and nobody seems to care. Life isn't simply tragic. Life is dull. H. L. Mencken said it well, (Mencken was a columnist back in the 1920’s & 30’s who wrote about everyday life in America)

“The basic fact about human experience is not that it is a tragedy, but that it is a bore”. “It is not that it is predominantly painful, but that it is lacking in any sense.

How many of you believe that today? How many people do you know who might believe this? If you don’t think this is true, then why is the fastest growing industry today built around positive thinking and positive thinking seminars? Look at our schools today. Where is the most emphasis put? On building high self esteem. Many schools have altered how they teach because the sense is kids are down in the dumps.

There are two stats I found that are scary to me and tell me we as Americans have a really messed up sense of reality:

• If your combined household earns more than $24,600 a year you are in the top%10 of all income earners in the world. 2011 U.S. Census poverty threshold for a family of 4: $23,021.00
• Also, did you know that only 34% of American adults say they are truly happy?

Now, the last thing we are supposed to realize is that we have been lied to all our lives. There are at least 4 major falsehoods that many still call truth today:

1. Laugh and the world laughs with you. Have you found this to be true? The truth is this is quite the opposite. Laugh and you laugh alone. Cry and you get a crowd. Who wants to hear good news? It is the bad news and tragedy that turns us on. Look at the news and all the things we follow.
2. Every day in every way our world is getting better. What do you think about that? Are we getting better?
3. There is a light at the end of every tunnel. Keep hoping…keep looking for it. Murphy was right when he said the real light at the end of the tunnel is the headlight of an oncoming train.
4. Things are never as bad as they seem. So dream, dream, dream. Things are not really as bad as they seem. They are often worse, and dreaming won’t make them better.

Why do they tell us those lies? Why do they keep telling us to look for the light at the end of the tunnel? Why do people conduct great seminars around the world and tell people to smile more, to believe, “There’s a bright beautiful tomorrow… just grab for it…go for the gusto…hitch your wagon to a star…you’ll make it someday”? Do you know why they tell us those things? There is one simple answer: to make us believe there’s purpose and happiness if we keep on hoping.

Hope can not live in a vacuum where facts are ignored:

• The world is wonderful? WRONG – It is corrupt, wicked and depraved
• Work is enriching and fulfilling? WRONG – It is tiring, it is futile and it blows up in your face.
• People are kind and generous? WRONG – They are selfish and cruel.
• Life on earth is a big bowl of cherries? WRONG – It is the pits. It’s boring. It is empty. It is a grind. It is chasing the wind. AND TO MAKE MATTERS WORSE…APATHY RULES!

All of this is the truth if you are educated or untaught. It is true if you are young or old. It is true if you are a professional person or a blue-collar worker. It is true if you are rich or poor. And it won’t be different if your circumstances change. Don’t believe me…believe God. DON’T BLAME GOD! He has a reason for our horizontal lives being so void of purpose.

The reason why God makes our horizontal lives void of purpose is so we look for something that does give us purpose. It lies in our vertical lives. Purpose is found in a relationship with God, not with the world. The reason why many Christians struggle with Ecclesiastes and find it depressing is because they come from the vertical perspective. And what happens when a person from the horizontal perspective is introduced to a vertical perspective? THE CROSS.

Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 (NIV)
The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless." What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.

Ecclesiastes follows an ancient literary tradition, that of wisdom literature. This sort of writing was developed in Egypt as early as the third millennium B.C. and became common throughout the ancient Near East. Wise sages wrote this type of literature. Their role was to observe the world around them both natural and human and draw conclusions so others could benefit from their wisdom. This type of literature first gained formal status in Israel under the rule of Solomon. It makes sense; Solomon is considered the wisest man who ever lived. Three examples of wisdom literature in the Old Testament are Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes.

The basic premise of this book: There is not one lie in this book. However, this book is not your basic “How to be rich and famous” book either. The information found here is trustworthy and should be read by the entire world. The king has one basic premise and he doesn't wait until the end of the book to tell us like other books. The premise is this:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

Life appears to have substance but when you dig into it, there is nothing there. It holds out hope that is bright, but when you go for it, you stumble into a cold dark nightmare. This whole book is written from the horizontal perspective. What is life like without any relationship with God? From the world’s perspective, how does life look and feel?

Ecclesiastes reveals a basic human feeling, we humans hunger for meaning! Where do you think that hunger comes from? From our creator! People want to feel that their lives are moving toward some worthwhile goal, that their actions are making a lasting impact. In short, people long for purpose, for progress, and for permanence.

What are the things that people put their faith in to give them meaning and purpose to life?
God tells us to put our faith and trust in him for meaning and purpose in life.

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

But where can we find meaning in life? Can we find meaning in the following things?

WORK: According to this text, what is the gain or advantage of work under the sun? There is no purpose or advantage for working. But where can we find purpose? Work is full of meaning because…John 4:34-38

John 4:34-38 (NIV)
"My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying 'One sows and another reaps' is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor."

NATURE: There is no progress in nature (5-7). But where can we find meaning in nature? Nature is full of meaning because…Matthew 6:25-30

Matthew 6:25-30 (NIV)
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

HISTORY: There is no permanence in history (4, 11). Solomon lamented because no matter who yo were or ow important you were, in the end, no one would be remembered. We are soon to be forgotten. He found this to be a grievous thing. A survey was taken not too long ago that asked high school students what their biggest dream was…to be famous. But where can we find meaning in history? History is full of meaning because…Hebrews 1:1-2

Hebrews 1:1-2 (NIV)
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.