Thursday, May 24, 2012

Having it all

Last Sunday in church our pastor was planning to talk about Solomon, the last of the three kings of the united Hebrew kingdom.  So earlier in the week we read some of the parts of the Bible written about him.  We also read to our daughter the story of Solomon in one of her Bibles, The Story for Children

Her Bible contains just one of the stories of Solomon, but it is one that shows him at the virtual height of his power.  He is ruler of the Hebrew kingdom, has built the temple in Jerusalem, and is pretty much considered to be the wealthiest and wisest person on earth.  He receives a visitor, the Queen of Sheba, who marvels at Solomon’s riches and intellect.  As I read this story Solomon appears to “have it all.”  If he was alive today we might say that he was living the American Dream

I thought that it was a little ironic that we were reading of Solomon at the same time that Facebook was going public, catapulting Mark Zuckerburg overnight to a level of wealth that, for all practical purposes, is unimaginable.  Zuckerburg may, or may not, have Solomon’s wisdom, but he sure seems to have as much money.  And a day or two later he married his girlfriend.  I don’t really know a lot about Zuckerburg but I do know that he has money, family and youth.  To me it seems that he “has it all” as much as Solomon did.

We have no idea how Zuckerburg’s story will play out over time.  Nor, for that matter,  the story of anyone else.  Zuckerburg, like Solomon, just lives more publicly than most of us because of his wealth.  What we do know of the latter parts of Solomon’s story wasn’t pretty. 

In 1 Kings 2:2-4 Solomon was given some instructions from his father, David, whom he succeeded as king, instructions to prepare him to lead the Hebrew people.  They included,

 “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man,  and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses,…”

Solomon had received wisdom as a gift from God but wound up living in ways in which evidence of his wisdom was absent.  He blatantly neglected, at best, and rejected, at worst, the foundational teaching of Moses that his father told him to follow, the first of the Ten Commandments, which was, and still is,

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”

I think it is very easy, and somewhat natural given that we live in a fallen world, to envy the things that others have.  We can see what Solomon had and desire it.  Or what Zuckerburg has.  Or what our next-door neighbor or our sibling has.  Solomon, despite all his riches, remained unsatisfied and he pursued the acquisition of other things in a manner that took him away from God.  Rather than worship God alone, other things became his gods.

In his second letter to the church at Corinth Paul gives testimony to the situation that he and those with him lived in as they shared God’s Good News of Jesus.  In chapter 6:3-10 he lists a number of contrasts in their circumstances.  He details the repeated ways in which they have suffered, followed by a list of the virtues they have continued to practice.  He then has a number of pairs, with the first being the way something appears to be and the second being the way it really is.  He concludes in writing this:

“as having nothing, yet possessing everything.”

Paul knows, and reminds the church at Corinth and those who follow Christ today, that “having it all” isn’t about money, or fame, or power, or family, or health, or any other thing we could possibly desire.

Having it all is only about having Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior, something that we begin to understand as we live in faith today, and something that he promises will be more glorious than anything we can possibly imagine.  In Christ we can truly "have it all," now and forever.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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