Stuart Baggs is an absolute legend. Self-awareness is not a quality he possesses. He has a youthful optimism that more than borders on the delusional and he’s pure quality entertainment. “Everything I touch turns to sold” he said in one of his more humble moments on this season’s hit series, The Apprentice. Very rarely do you encounter such a blatant caricature but when you do it is absolutely arresting to watch. I’ve found myself cringing behind the cushion on our sofa as he defends himself before Lord Sugar in the boardroom. The facial expressions and reactions of the other contestants seem to have no impact upon Baggs ‘The Brand’ He’s in a total bubble of self-confidence and optimism that makes David Brent look shy and retiring! The only sad thing is that this series will come to an end, allowing only personal acquaintances, family and work colleagues to be able to witness the life of the man who is Stuart Baggs.
His optimism about life is a far cry from the perspective of the author of Ecclesiastes (a book I’ve been studying/teaching for the last month or two.) In this brutally honest book of the bible I’ve been reminded that under the sun – everything is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. The author has pursued a variety of paths in life and all of them have left him feeling dissatisfied. Study and wisdom; laughter and pleasure; building and work; sex and relationships; popularity and significance – all of these things were pursued fully but ended up leaving a sour taste in the author’s mouth. A repeated phrase that comes at the end of every new pursuit or path is ‘this too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.’ There’s a blunt, down-to-earth reality about this book that is too often lacking in the Christian community. It’s not a negative book, it’s not an abstract book, it’s a ‘how things really are’ book. For many people life has become like chasing the wind. Life is just out of reach. Life has become impossible. Life is all over the place and doesn’t seem to have any source or destination. Thankfully, while the book raises these questions it doesn’t leave us believing that this is the only perspective on life.
We are urged in the final chapter (and throughout the book) to lift our eyes from ‘under the sun’. We need to look above the created world, above the sun, moon, stars, jobs, possessions, people and projects. We need to lift our eyes above creation to the Creator. He made us and place eternity in our hearts. He is an eternal God and He designed us for relationship with Himself. When we swallow a temporary pain-killer for an eternal ache the pain will soon surface. JI Packer says in his classic book Knowing God ‘there is in Christ a balm for every wound.’
It won’t be long before the bubble bursts for Stuart Baggs, the midas touch will evaporate and Lord Sugar may utter the famous words “You’re Fired.” How will Baggs react? What will he do next? The author of Ecclesiastes will point him in the direction of his Creator and encourage him to find life in the only One who can offer it.