Thursday, May 03, 2012

Camera and Mirror

Last week, a brother in Christ preached for us at Church. He helped us work through Ecclesiastes 2:1-11, entitled "Folly of Pleasure." His key point was that it will be futile to seek pleasure if we are not focused on God through the Cross of Christ. In it, he presented two wonderful images of how we can do just that.

Wisdom to Zoom In / Zoom Out
In the Camera Image, like a camera that can zoom in and zoom out, we learn to examine ourselves and our circumstances through distinguishing the trees from the forest, and not miss out any of them. Like Solomon who finds pleasure but loses himself in his pleasure, we need to learn to know when to zoom in and when to zoom out.

In the Mirror Image, we ask ourselves what kind of a person are we reflecting? Are we reflecting our human sinful selves, or are we reflecting Christ in us? In our seeking for pleasure, far too often we are reflecting our sinfulness through greed, like frivolous accumulation of material goods for ourselves. All of these is folly in the eyes of God. He asks us about our pursuit of reputation, money, career, and the worldliness we want. What is driving us? Self or God?

My Thoughts

I look at the way the passage has been worded and I marvel at the intensity of the search by Qoheleth, the writer of the book. Also translated as the Teacher, or the Preacher, Qoheleth leaves no stones unturned as he seek pleasure through amusement (Eccl 2:2). He seeks pleasure through humour, wine, and folly (Eccl 2:3). One particular phrase that we can easily miss out is in verse 3.

"I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly - my mind still guiding me with wisdom. (italics mine)" (Eccl 2:3)

(Credit: Tony Cossey's Blog)
This passage is not simply about a drunkard reflecting on life, nor a foolish man just enjoying pleasure. It is about a man, widely awake and reasonably conscious about seeking meaning through pleasure. He his very intentional and purposeful about it all, like how ants busy themselves with collecting food in preparation for Winter. Taking the camera image, we can prevent ourselves from going to any of the two extremes. One end being too "big picture" that we lose sight of the specifics. The other end is to be too "micro-managing" that we lose sight of the big picture. Qoheleth struggles with both as he goes wide in the many different forms of pleasure, and in each attempt, he goes deep in, lock, stock, and barrel. The other image of a mirror, reminds us of why we are doing what we are doing. Are we reflecting the inner selfishness in us, or are we reflecting the selfless nature of Christ?

The take home I have is that in our outer lives, we need to live like the camera, learning to discern when is best to zoom in, and when to zoom out. In our inner lives, we begin with being transformed inside us, that we can reflect Christ more and more in our outer lives.

If God were our one and only desire we would not be so easily upset when our opinions do not find outside acceptance.” (Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ)


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