Over the last months I have had a reoccurring conversation with myself on the subject of death. I’m not obsessed with the subject, but the fact is that each day that passes is another day closer to the end of my time here. As a believer I see death as the passage into the presence of God. Some look at this passage as the final rest and escape from the pains and sorrows of this life. After all scripture promises that in heaven there will be no more pain and no more tears. Jesus himself will wipe away our tears (Revelation 21:4). Others see death as the entrance into the courts of heaven for judgment. Will God let you in? Or will he send you away? For those whose salvation is directly related to how well they did here on earth, coming into the presence of God could be an unnerving event. If your salvation depends on whether or not God is in a good mood, death is more like rolling the dice and hoping that your good luck will take you into heaven. As a Christian saved by Jesus I know that my salvation is secure because it does not depend on my works or even the strength of my faith. My salvation rests on Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9). So why think about death? Because I am still living. Stay with me a bit more.
We all know the verse “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). You probably have heard sermons on this verse or at least some brave missionary about to embark on a new appointment has quoted it. Yet, I think that we miss the personal application of this statement by Paul. The meaning of my life is Christ. Let me put it this way. The meaning to my existence in this world is that Jesus is God, and I am in relationship with God because of Jesus’ human life, death, and resurrection. Before I meet Jesus, my life’s significance was limited to what was going on around me. My truth was whatever I felt was true. My values were whatever my community accepted as good. My purpose was to make myself happy before I died. This was the meaning of life until God entered my world. I may have heard of a God or even about Jesus, but I did not know God until he was made known to me. Much less was I able to draw meaning from Christ without knowing who he was. But now that I know Jesus the Christ, my significance comes from him. I have found absolute truth in the person and work of Jesus. The words he said revealed the true heart of people and their needs. His life demonstrated the true meaning of communion and values that build up instead of destroying. His death was the ultimate price paid for love and truth. His resurrection is the liberation from the finality of death and the grave. Through Jesus my life has been overhauled and redefined. While I look the same in the outside, the why and the how of my life are not even close to what they used to be before Jesus come and took over. Therefore I can say that for me to live is Christ.
We all have heard that there are only two things in this life that you can count on: taxes and death. I find it interesting that while we know that each year the government is going to ask us for our taxes, we don’t stop working towards making more money. We work to make the best of our labor and our investments each day because we know that we have a limited time to earn money and prepare for the future. When it comes to death we seem to ignore it or not to try to think about it. I don’t want to think about death; I want to think about living life. I want to make sure that I live comfortably, in peace, and with as little conflict as possible. There is nothing wrong with these ideas, but the problem is that there is a limit to this life. Our days are truly limited in number. Part of my motivation to live in Christ is the limited number of days that I have on this earth. I will not be here forever. This statement has run through my mind lately. I will not be here forever therefore I will not waste it. To me death has become a countdown to a time when I will not have the opportunities that I have now: the opportunity to speak the truth to a lost world, the opportunity to stand for God in faith, the opportunity to introduce Jesus to others before is too late, the opportunity to love my wife as Christ loved the church, the opportunity to teach my children the ways of God, the opportunity to be part of the family of God here before eternity, the opportunity to be bold for God, the opportunity to be light and salt.
LEAVE IT ALL ON THE TRACK
I completed the 2013 Chicago Marathon. I will not dare to say that I ran the marathon because that would be a stretch of the imagination. During my training I learned a term “leave it all on the track.” I always planned my runs to end at home. This way, regardless of how tired I was, I knew I was coming home at the end of my run. This though always helped me to run hard and fast as I was coming home. I wanted to use every ounce of strength I had left in my body and leave it all on the path. I wanted to make sure that when I got home I could tell my wife “I gave it all I had.” Hebrews 12:1-2 equates life to a race. We are challenge to live this life for Christ by giving it all that we’ve got. Don’t compromise in order to make your run more comfortable. Don’t slow down to avoid pain. Don’t deviate looking for short cuts. The course has been marked. The rules have been established. The finish line will come soon enough. When you cross that finish line all will be gain.
Death will be here before you know it. Live your life without compromise. Stay firm in the word of God and apply it. Speak up on the face of those who seek to spread lies and immorality. Love people but don’t hold the truth from them. If the significance of your life is in Jesus Christ, then you will have to live “Jesus Style.” Life will be hard, uncomfortable, and painful at times just like a marathon. Don’t stop running. Some people want to stop and enjoy the sights of the course and maybe even party with the spectators. Don’t do it. Stay focused and finish strong. Don’t give in to the foolishness of this world.
LIMITED AMOUNT, GREATER VALUE
When something is limited in quantity its value is greater. The time of this life is very limited in view of eternity. Yes, we don’t hang on to this world because its all vanity and fleeting. In the other hand, we need to value each moment and make something out of every opportunity because we will not have this time again. Great works of faith can only happen in this time. Haddon W. Robinson once said in a sermon, “if you are going to do something great do it now. We won’t pass this away again.” The limited time we have here makes it very valuable and it should not be wasted. How will you live today?