Wednesday, August 20, 2008

An Important Question - Your Input Requested!

I want to ask you a question. I hope you'll either email me your answer or post a comment, for others to see, at the bottom of this article. Here's the question...

Today, if you found out that you had 30 days left on this earth, what would you do?

What items would immediately shoot to the top of your personal "to-do" list? How would your life be different after receiving the news? Take some time to mull this over and let me know what you came up with.

1 comment:

dps said...

Hope you do not mind me posting on here, as Sean and I go way back and often times have conversations of a theological/relevant nature.

Up until a few years ago, I imagine (well, I pretty much know) that my response would be very similar to most Christians (not a judgment by any means). "So much to do! So much to say! So many to connect with and reach out to! So many emotions!" However, a couple of things have given me cause to really think about that in relation to the model given through Christ, as well as a study (forgive me as I do not know the authors name, but if I find it I will post it later) on A Theology of Time.

Our tendency, in the culture we find ourselves, is to believe that once we have given our lives (if we have done this how then have our lives changed) to God through Christ - needs get met, problems fade away, our lives prosper! Not that we have promoted this in any form (especially within the Restoration Movement churches), but if we take a look at a majority of our congregations we find ourselves in the midst of people who from the world's perspective "live" just like they do, they just don't "think/talk" like them. Life/action typically trumps the way we think/talk... anyway, back to the question.

Our culture is obsessed with "time." Most of the Western world is, except our friends from Australia and New Zealand where they promote time off and even increase your salary when you are on vacation, not to mention everyone starts off with six weeks of paid vacation they day they start work. Our culture emphasizes productivity, getting things done, and "bang for the buck." This has crept it's way into our churches, as most of them use business models for hiring staff, chart growth by the numbers, and the leaders are often times (not always) picked by their business skills.

So when a question like "30 days left" is asked, our tendency (if not our reality) is to immediately think about "time, what is left undone, who will take our place, regret, and I am not ready yet, this is so unfair!"

If I understand my/our relationship with God through Christ, I died to self the moment I was submerged into the water (if not mentally shortly before). A good friend told a group of us about two years ago that no one can take on the Christ ethic and expect to live for very long. Christ put himself in harms way, uncomfortable situations, and surrounded himself (a great deal of the time) with some of the most unsavory individuals his surroundings had to offer. That is our model for life. Complete submission to God, even to the point of death - yes, even death on a cross. So in a very real way, 30 days is actually a long time, since none of us have been promised tomorrow.

Time... Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the little reader on the theology of time, was that God created time and that He created enough of it so that "His" will can be done. That really took the wind out of "my" sails, as it made me think through and realize that most (if not all) of my plans - are mine. I immediately thought of Stephen, who had twice the Spirit of those around him who was essentially murdered during his first sermon or act of service. Those around him may have said what many of us say when a servant of God dies, "what a waste" or "he/she was going to do so much for the Kingdom", however, I think that Stephen knew his death would only add fuel to the fire of faith in Christ to all those who would hear of it.

The example I believe we should all try to emulate, in the area of how we approach death in those final moments is that of Jesus. Now it can be argued whether or not he knew it was coming when it did, but rather than going out into the streets and proclaiming the words of salvation (essentially himself), we find him serving those who would take his place, eating a meal with them, forgiving those who would go on to betray him, praying, and ultimately not fighting death when it came in the form of those he was sent to save.

I would like to think that not much would change in my life if I knew the end of this life was 30 days away. I would probably try to spend as much time with those who I knew my absence would affect the most, and communicate in some way with those that I will miss (for a while) how much they have blessed my life.

Two quotes I have thought about a lot the past year.

Anton Chighur (No Country for Old Men), "If the road you chose led you to this, then of what use was the road?" Perhaps all of us need to realize how much of our old selves influence the choices we make, instead of submitting to God's will.

Jim Elliot (Missionary), "When it comes time to die, make sure that it is all you have to do." Now this quote has been taken two ways. Go, go, go! Or, as I like to think of it... Ministry is interruptions. Most of what we read about Jesus' life, is essentially him going somewhere or hanging with those around him when others simply interrupt. Jesus always made room for the interruptions. I feel as though we typically never plan for them, thus making death the harshest interruption of all.

None of us is to great that God's will rests on our shoulders. It is something we all need to hear about ourselves, and even more so when we often times place that expectation on the lives/ministry of others.

Well... I have probably said too much. Blessings on your ministry.