Friday, August 11, 2023

The Pursuit of Novelty (Ecclesiastes 1:1-11)

"… there is nothing new under the sun" (Eccl. 1:9).

Intrinsic to human nature is the need to find security in things familiar and enduring. Children are more likely to be insecure when they are surrounded by constant change. They need steady relationships, a fixed environment, the reassurance that they can always count on mom and dad to be there for them. Whenever you visit a home that has been in a family for generations, you are impressed by feelings of permanency; and whether we admit it or not, most of us find a great deal of security in that permanence.

As we experience a sense of comfort and security in things that are stable, two things happen. First, we discover that those “things” cannot provide lasting peace because they cannot endure forever. Buildings burn down, relatives die, parents divorce. Second, as sinful creatures, we become bored with “old” things because they do not fill the void in our souls. As a result, we want to find something new. At first we are dazzled by the excitement of a new home, new car, or new relationship, but soon the novelty passes into the mundane, and we find ourselves back on the treadmill looking for something else to fill the void. But even as we move from one trifle to another, we discover that there is really nothing new. A movie might include new dialog, new actors, new special effects, but the plot is as old as the Greek tragedies.

Science may boast of finding something for the first time, but it’s nothing new—it’s only the discovery of something that has been there since the beginning. All the sciences, all the philosophies, all the arts simply recycle that which has gone before.

We find this especially true in the history of the church. “All ecclesiastical revolutions, and the every-varying phases of doctrine, are only ‘the same scene over and over again,’ ” Bridges writes. “We sound the warning. Beware of being dazzled by the glare of new things—new philosophy—a new show of truth. Faithful men value the old truths, ask for the good old way.”

The pursuit of something new is a vain pursuit. The only thing that can satisfy the longing in our souls is God Himself, the One who remains unchanged. As Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee.”

What is your newest acquisition? What motivated you to get it? Did you really need it? Before you purchase something new seriously consider your motivation—do you really need it or are you trying keep life interesting because you’re not finding fulfillment in God? Guard your heart against the temptation of novelty.