The Disciple Bible study, Under the Tree of Life, is the fourth in the Disciple series. This is my fourth year to participate with the group at my church, so I’m well engrained in the structure of it. Every time we read over some part of the Bible that we’ve studied before, I learn new things. Our group has grown very close, as we’ve studied, shared our concerns, and prayed together.
This week, we are reading Ecclesiastes; we’re reading it next week, too. This week, we are asked to read it with a pessimistic view, as if we didn’t know the hope of God through Christ, “from the perspective of futility.” Here is the assignment:
“Look for mystery, vain things, incongruities, ambivalence, irony, chance, punctured pride, injustice, tragedy, and death. Look at life as it really is. Consider your own death” (70).Every week’s lesson gives us an assessment of the human condition that has us pretty well pegged. This week’s “Human Condition” is this:
“We live as if tomorrow were a sure thing. We accumulate. The next new experience, the next new possession—we gather them around us to distract us from the fact that nothing lasts. That we’re going to die” (70).
People who have been Christians for years need to remember how it was before they came to know God. They need to remember how it felt to be hopeless and to find life meaningless. I remember.
I find myself resistant to really getting into that perspective. I have vivid memories of that view of life, because I lived it for fifty years before I was rescued from myself by God. I really don’t want to re-live those feelings.
Wilke, Richard Byrd, and Julia Kitchens Wilke. Disciple: Under the Tree of Life Study Manual. Abingdon, 2001.