Our Pastor (I like to refer to him as Reverend John), preached on Ecclesiastes this last week. The gyst of his message was to juxtapose Ecclesiastes and Proverbs and ask which is right? Anyone who holds to the authority of the Bible would be uncomfortable with thinking one book is more right than another, but when you compare Ecclesiastes and Proverbs you are clearly confronted with two different views of life.

For example, Provers says: “Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men” (2:11) and “Pursue Wisdom, Live Wisely, She’ll keep you safe! Don’t be foolish, that leads to death”  (21:16).  Then in Ecclesiastes we see: “Then I thought in my heart, ‘The fate of the fool will overtake me also. What then do I gain by being wise?’ I said in my heart, ‘This too is meaningless'” (2:15). There are many other examples of discontinuity between Proverbs and Ecclesiastes and our pastor touched on many of them (you can listen to his sermon here).

He concluded that perhaps this is not a case of an either/or but a case of both and. The point is that very often the wisdom of Proverbs is true to life and should dictate our course of action. Then, on the other hand, sometimes life throughs you curves that cannot be easily explained by the proverbial cause and effect mentality. That is when the viewpoint of Ecclesiastes most clearly speaks to us.

As I listened to this sermon, I found myself thinking, that not only is this probably a good way to approach life, but it is also a good way to approach and view Scripture. It is often troubling to people that there are tensions in Scripture. There are apparent contradictions, the opposing viewpoints of Ecclesiastes and Proverbs are buamong many examples. But isn’t it true that there are many tensions in human life? Even more in Christian life? As Christians, we claim to be new Creations (2 Cor. 5:17), but we also look forward to when we will be new creations (1 John 3:2). We live in the tension of being already born of God and not yet being fully born of God the way we will be when Christ returns.

Is it surprising then, that there are tensions in Scripture that most often deal with the problem of future reality vs. present reality? I think it speaks to Scriptures ability to speak to us where we are.

So, the end of the matter is this: love God and keep his commandments while you live in the tension and look forward to the day when that tension will be resolved.