Solomon famously wrote, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” It sounds a bit like Confucius, a bit scholarly, and a bit bizarre. But here’s my question: what if Solomon was right?
I recently had a discussion with a group of high school students about their constant distraction. I wasn’t pounding on them for constant Tweeting, Texting, and SnapChatting. No, they actually brought up the constant distraction and said it was a challenge. They said they had no idea how to face it. This seems like the great challenge of our day.
We can never sit down and have a sustained dialogue with our family and friends because we are constantly urged to check Facebook. We can never sit down and deeply think about the long-term implications of a difficult decision because Twitter is exploding with #GOPDebate and other hashtags. We can never sit down to meditate and reflect on Scripture for a couple of hours because Instagram is buzzing our iPhone, iPad, or laptop. Oh, the difficulty of living in the 21st century!
Ehh, not so fast.
Roughly 2000 years ago, in Meditations, the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, wrote, “For how could we do what justice requires if we are distracted by things that don’t matter, if we are naïve, gullible, inconstant?”
Pow pow! All that ‘Woe is me! The challenges of the information age!’ talk is bunk.
Our problem is not a technology problem, not a social media problem, not a 21st century problem, it’s a human heart problem. The issues we face today, the ones we think are unique to our situation, are the exact same problems that faced the Roman empire 2000 years ago.
And what’s more, Solomon wrote a full millennium before Marcus Aurelius and said there is nothing new under the sun. The human heart is constantly facing distraction from things that don’t matter to avoid dealing with things that do matter.
What we thought was a new and unique problem is actually an old and very common problem. And, had we studied our Bibles, we would have known this to be the case.
If the problem is old, then odds are, there are countless old solutions we should investigate before the “new” solutions (if such a thing even exists). And, if a source had predicted the continuation of the same problem, and had predicted it three thousand years in advance, I’d start my search for a solution with him.
Since Solomon did all that predicting and he did it three thousand years in advance, I propose we start with him. What does he suggest is the solution? What does he say to finish his book?
“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”
We thought our challenges were new and unique, but Solomon said they were not. Who was right? He was. We often think we are here to make it to retirement, to maintain peace, and to enjoy life – Solomon says we are not. What if Solomon was right?
If Solomon is right about our purpose on Earth, how does this change your priorities? Leave a comment on Facebook or Twitter!