The Vanity of Religion
Topic: The Meaning of Life Passage: Ecclesiastes 5:1–7
Every person actually has a religion. Every person on the planet is a religious worshiper.
Now, what is a religion?
Religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, and of humanity within the universe. Everyone seeks to find some set of beliefs to live by that answers the question about meaning and purpose—about why am I here? where am I going? And even someone who says they have no religion has a set of beliefs on which they answer that question.
So. the question is not—are you religious or not?
The question we want to deal with this morning, and really the extremely monumental important question is—is your religion true or is your religion false?
The Preacher in The Book of Ecclesiastes has been exposing all that happens under the sun. Remember, his perspective in the world, and observing what has happened under the sun, what happens in the world … he has been comprehensive. He has been brutally honest about his assessment of the world and it’s not a pretty picture that we see. His conclusion is that there’s no gain under the sun. There’s no gain in what the world has to offer. He started out by saying all is vanity, all is like a striving after the wind, chasing the wind. You can’t catch it. And we have to admit that he’s really onto something. And we see that in our own world, the satisfactions under the sun in this world are temporary. They’re fleeting satisfactions. They are tainted by sin. They’re never deep or long lasting enough to actually satisfy the soul.
One might think that this is not true of religion. It’s certainly the whole point of religion— to answer those kinds of deep questions so you can find satisfaction of the soul forever.
But the Preacher finds that the false practice of religion is a foolishly vain attempt to find soul satisfaction on earth. That’s his point today. Most religion is vain. Most religion is like chasing after the wind. You can’t catch it. And if you do catch it, what have you actually caught? You don’t have anything. That’s his point and we’ll find agreement with the Preacher about the foolishness of false religion.
But, as we always do, we’re going to seek to look beyond the sun. His perspective is under the sun. We need to look beyond the sun and we need to find conclusions there. We’re going to look and find the heart of true religion given to us by God. So, the question the Preacher seeks to answer in our passages today is this: what is the nature of false religion?