“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV)
Are you looking for some very practical advice on how to keep from getting embroiled in political and religious controversy? Perhaps you just want to keep a level head and control your blood pressure. Look no further than the book of Ecclesiastes.
Both the political and religious news have an uncanny way of hooking a person’s interest and heating up debate. Depending on the topic, the talk shows hosts, late night comedians, pundits and bloggers know how to stoke those fires and raise their ratings. This week’s firestorm has been about Donald Trump and the “birthers” pressuring for the release of President Obama’s birth certificate.
In recent weeks it was about excerpts from Rob Bell’s controversial book questioning the purpose and reality of hell. The week of May 21st it will be the countdown to Jesus’ Return predicted by Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping. In the weeks that follow it will be something else. Thankfully the royal wedding is giving us some reprieve from all this today.
Ecclesiastes tells us “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (1:9) And so what better source of political and religious advice from a man who has done it all, had it all, seen it all and consequently knows it all? It is a retrospective written by an old man who could have been a high governmental leader, if not King Solomon himself, and at the same time may have also been an influential religious leader and teacher.
Here are Ecclesiastes prescriptions for avoiding controversy and lowering blood pressure when it comes to politics and religion.
1. Do not say “why were the old days better than these?” for it is not wise to ask such questions. (7:10)