13th Sunday after Pentecost; Sermon series #4
August 30, 2020
“Summer Road Trip; Wisdom/Silicon Valley”
God’s grace, mercy and peace be to you all in the name of our Living Lord and Good Shepherd Jesus. Today we continue our “summer road trip” in search of the meaning of life. Today’s journey takes us to California – Silicon Valley – by way of Ecclesiastes chapter 2.
My Dear Friends in Christ Jesus,
So far in our summer road trip in search for meaning in this life we have stopped at 3 different locations. In Seattle we failed to find meaningful life in wealth. In Washington D.C. we failed to find life’s meaning in power. Last week, in Las Vegas, we could not find a meaningful life in instant gratification and pleasure. This week we drive a little NW to California and we find ourselves in Silicon Valley – more specifically, the San Francisco/San Jose area.
In 1977 a couple of college dropouts by the names of Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak introduced the Apple II computer, the world’s first personal computer. Now, virtually every home in America has some kind of personal computing device, which launched the Silicon Valley revolution.
Silicon Valley became – and remains to this day – the high-tech center of the world. There are currently more than 2000 high-tech companies in the Silicon Valley – the densest concentration in the world – including: Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Google, Intel, Adobe, EBay, and Facebook just to name a few. Those companies alone employ 800,000 people! Now throw in the close proximity of Stanford University and UC-Berkeley and the Silicon Valley is a unique area indeed.
Seattle personified wealth. Washington is power central. Vegas is all about pleasure. But it is the San Jose/San Francisco Bay area of California – Silicon Valley – that has become the epicenter – the heart – of wisdom in America. Maybe we can find meaning there. This world is not controlled by bombs and bullets anymore. It’s about bytes – gigabytes and terabytes – information…is the new weapon of choice; who has it and who controls its flow. There must be meaning in having knowledge and wisdom, right?
Speaking of wisdom, that would be King Solomon. Solomon is described in Scripture as the wisest man who ever lived. He didn’t have a B.A. or M.B. or PhD, he had a G.O.D. God Himself gave Solomon his fantastic wisdom. Yet, Solomon didn’t find wisdom to give meaning to life. He said in today’s lesson “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise? And I said in my heart that this also is vanity (meaningless)” (2:15 ESV). It was Solomon’s wisdom that enabled him to understand that wisdom was meaningless. Whoa…kind of blows the mind, right?
We live in an era of technology and instant information. It is said that to have information is to have power. We may not always crave power, but isn’t wisdom kind of what we all want? I don’t mean Steve Jobs or Stanford kind of wisdom. I don’t think any of you are building a new PC out of spare components in your garage these days. Yet, don’t we always just want to know? No one likes the unknown. No one likes to admit that they don’t know this or that. Why? It’s a one-word answer: Fear. One of the earliest consequences of sin is fear. Adam and Eve heard God walking in the Garden, but they knew they had done wrong, so they hid themselves. Why? Because they didn’t know what God would do to them, and so they were afraid. So it is also the case for us. When we don’t know, we are afraid, and when we are afraid we are not trusting in God. Does that sound like a wise act to you? It’s not.
Friends, you will not find meaning in life in wisdom because there are many things in this life that we will not know, and yet we trust in God.
As a believer – a Christian – there are certain spiritual things about life that you may not completely know. Maybe a three-in-one and one-in-three Triune God confuses you, but does that mean God is not capable of that? Maybe the thought of Jesus dying on a cross confuses you or even frightens you, but that’s what God did to save us from our sins thanks to Adam and Eve. Maybe you wrestle with what we are about to do in a few moments. Regarding bread, “this is my body.” Regarding wine, “this is my blood.” Human wisdom, and the enormous lack thereof, does not and cannot restrict how God chooses to work in our midst.
Not knowing – lacking wisdom – and still trusting? That’s called FAITH! Hebrews 11:1 says “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (ESV). Meaning in life is not found in human wisdom, because there are too many times you are just NOT going to know! Maybe you don’t know how that bill is going to get paid. Trust in God’s provision. Maybe you don’t know how that messy situation you got yourself into with your family is going to get resolved. Trust. Maybe you’re not sure why this hurts or that aches. First, go see your doctor…then trust. Maybe you don’t know why this or that had to happen to you or your loved one. Trust in God’s grace and mercy. It’s going to be okay. Your wisdom is not going to resolve the issue, but God will in His way and in His time through grace and forgiveness and mercy and love.
Believe that God in His wisdom knows exactly what He’s doing. Just because you don’t know and just because you can’t see where, when, and how God is going to work especially in these trying times doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Real wisdom in this life is the confidence to trust that God is lovingly at work in your life even when you can’t see it. You will not find meaning in life in wisdom because there are many things in this life that we will not know, and yet we trust. It’s called “having faith.”
Shed your chains of fear. Live like a redeemed child of God set free in His wisdom. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” That’s Proverbs 3:5…written by, Yup, King Solomon. Pretty wise guy, right?
So…meaning in life is not necessarily found even in a place like Silicon Valley which is wisdom personified. Now we have ruled out wealth, power, pleasure, and wisdom as providing meaning in our lives. So…where exactly CAN we find meaning in this life? We’ve been all the way across the country and back again! Well, fasten that seatbelt, little campers. Guess you’ll have to wait until next week, but rest assured. Yes…we ARE almost there.