But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ (Luke 12:20)
If you knew this was your last day on earth, would it change what you are doing? Human beings have an uncanny ability to deny reality, and live in such a way that one might be led to believe they are going to live forever. I wonder how many of those whose lives were snatched away in Toronto last week woke up thinking that this would be their last day. Likely none of them, but that doesn’t change the reality of what took place, and now the shattered and broken lives of family and friends is all that is left.
Our hearts naturally ache for everyone affected by this tragedy, but an even worse tragedy may befall anyone who doesn’t take seriously the lesson of such events. We are all hanging by a mere thread. Life comes with no guarantees. Of course, we don’t want to spend our lives thinking about and fearing death every moment. We want to live, but we need to be prepared, realizing that every moment of every day is a gift from God. That has to impact the way we live.
How then will we live out this day? Will we spend it complaining or being thankful for each moment? Will this reality influence the things we talk about, the way we spend our time, or the things we worry about? Will we live this day out in bitterness and anger, or in forgiving and accepting others? Will we spend the day assuring ourselves that we will deal some other time with Jesus’ call to accept His claim on our lives, or will this be the day that we finally realize what the Bible means when it tells us that “Now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
You have a precious opportunity to respond to God’s love for you today. You have a chance to begin anew today to love God, and the people around you, by letting God make you into the person He wants you to be. Don’t throw it away.
I hope we all have many more opportunities to be everything we were made to be. But the reality is, for you and for me, we only have today, right now. The thread of life is far too fragile to make assumptions.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 (NRSV)
It’s hard not to notice how critically negative some folks can be all while claiming to be “saved by the grace of God.” It seems that “salvation” for these people puts them in a place where they can become unmerciful critics of anything that does not meet their self-righteous standards. Their attacks range from political issues (and politicians themselves), to cultural values (only theirs are the right ones), to thoughtless criticism of religious views and traditions that do not meet their demanding standards. The list goes on, but you probably get my drift.
How unlike Jesus, or even Paul who felt that the repressive and often dangerous political situations of their day were not the ultimate concerns of the time (though fairness and justice were constantly encouraged). It’s interesting that they never sought to condemn the political authorities of the day, even though Paul and Jesus would both meet their death at the hands of the Roman government.
Cultural values and systems likewise were not their primary concerns. They both knew that cultures are not sanctified by condemning those who participated in them. Certainly some aspects of their cultures were inconsistent with the gospel, and had to be (and were) rejected, but both understood that human culture was by its very nature alienated from God, so sinful behavior in a sinful world was no surprise. The answer was a new, sanctified life in Christ for every individual possible. The world was never going to change by shrill judgement and condemnation.
Even other religious views and traditions were not something that could be altered by shunning those who disagreed. Human hearts are changed by the love of God in Christ, something that God does, not us. Our part is to live with love for God, and for our neighbors filling our hearts; that will do more to bring people to Christ than our angry words, impatient shouting, and self-righteous condemnation could ever do. What if the people around us saw us living out the words of Philippians 4:8 (above)? Do you think they might actually think that knowing Christ is worthwhile after all?