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Four Reasons to Bring Non-believing Friends to the Ecclesiastes Series

May 31, 2012

We recently began a new sermon series at Westgate Church through the book of Ecclesiastes. Believe it or not, one of the reasons I selected this relatively obscure and rarely preached book was in hopes that our congregation would be motivated to bring their non-believing friends and family to church to hear its life-changing message. That’s not to say that this is a specifically evangelistic series, as though the only reason for Christians to come is to bring non-Christians. We all need to hear and take to heart the message of this book. But Ecclesiastes does lend itself particularly well to engaging those interested in exploring the faith, and here are four reasons why.

  1. Ecclesiastes validates their doubts and questions. One of the pervasive (mis)conceptions about Christianity is that there’s no room for honesty about questions, doubts, criticisms, or even skepticism regarding life or the teachings of the Bible. Christians come off as ignorant and naive, making Christ and Christianity look unbelievable and irrelevant. But the book of Ecclesiastes is painfully honest about how messed up this world is. It gives voice to our doubts and suspicions about life, faith, and God, and invites us to wrestle honestly with them.
  2. Ecclesiastes levels the playing field. Another impression Christians often give is that we have it all together. We come off as judgmental, self-righteous, and unsympathetic (sadly, because we sometimes are). But no one can escape the criticism of Ecclesiastes. Christians seem remarkably human under the penetrating examination of this book—prone to the same trials, frustrations, misgivings, and misplaced hope as the rest of the world. All who sit under this book will find themselves sitting in the same seat—in need of a help outside themselves.
  3. Ecclesiastes exposes the emptiness of what the world offers. The same critique that knocks Christians down to size also exposes the vanity of all that our unbelieving friends and family look to for lasting gain and significance. One by one, this book dispels the false hope we put in work, wealth, pleasure, knowledge, relationships, religion, power, politics, and everything else under the sun—the kinds of things it’s particularly easy to trust in among the wealthy and well-educated suburbs of Boston. But like a puff of breath on a frosty morning, so Ecclesiastes shows us how everything in this world that we hope in is ultimately fleeting and fruitless—it doesn’t last, and it doesn’t accomplish anything in the end. We need a better hope.
  4. Ecclesiastes points us to a greater and eternal hope in Jesus Christ. While its critique of life is sharp and startling, the book doesn’t leave us hopeless and depressed, resigned to put up with the vanity of life under the sun. Instead it lifts our eyes above the sun, and points them to Jesus, who took the vanity, sin, and decay of this life upon himself on the cross, and rose again on the third day to bring new life and a new creation. Against the dreary backdrop of life’s empty promises, the hope and joy found only in Jesus shines all the brighter—a hope that changes everything.

So take courage this season. As you wrestle with how this book challenges your own life and faith, pray for your unbelieving friends and neighbors who live daily under the cloud of life’s vanity. Invite them to come with you and take a fresh look at life through the lens of Ecclesiastes.

*For readers who attend Westgate, be sure to pick up a few series postcards this Sunday that you can use as invitations for friends.

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