Mark is an ordained minister, treading the tumultuous waves of a developing writing career, daring to dream a new dream.
It goes without saying, but this world is a crazy place. Since 2018 we have dealt with multiple hurricanes, riots, a pandemic, job loss, rising inflation, and a Russian invasion of the Ukraine. I'm quite certain a dozen more situations, both personal and global, came to mind. It is little wonder that millions of people are on edge with uncertainty and fear the rule rather than the exception.
This is the current state of our world. This is the world that God used for his eternal purpose. Despite the sinfulness of humanity, God continued with his supreme creation. (Noahic Covenant- Genesis 8:20-22) It includes us within its birth pains. It does not ask permission, seek forgiveness, or apologize for the rampant serious of events that affect our lives.
This struggle is real and messy. Jesus tells us, “You will be hearing of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.” (Matthew 24:6) That last phrase always gives me pause, “You mean there is more?” Yep, my brethren, just as the sanctification of the body is not yet done, neither is that of the creation. And God seeks to redeem creation just as much as us.
So, what are we, as Christians supposed to do as this ball of mud we call Earth, spins us around the cosmos at 22,000mph?
1) One day we will die, so live a life worth remembering. Human lifespans have limits. We will die in one of five ways (age, disease, accident, violence, or natural disaster). Depending on what you do for a living, where you travel, what you eat, and how you live, someone could provide a statistical probability of how you might die. (“Why thanks Mark for such an inspiring start to my day! Please proceed with the offering of more doom and gloom!”) In that case, buckle up because the Bible tells us that our life spans have a limit.
“Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” (Genesis 6:3)
“Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah.” (Psalm 39:5)
“Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.” (Psalm 144:4)
“The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10)
“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14)
As I live and strive, I fall short all too many times in my life. I struggle daily to be a good, wise, godly influence on my family, friends, and neighbors. I so want to be remembered as the doting husband, loving father, and effective minister, who had a significant, effective, positive, eternal impact on the world around. Mark Twain once said, “Let us live so that when we come to die, even the undertaker will be sorry.” Live your life in such a way the minister doesn’t have to lie. Make that dash between your birth and death count for something.
2) Make peace with your possessions. Jesus tells us to “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) The physical, mental, social, and emotional needs that are so much a part of the human person. Unfortunately, so many of these needs gave become woven into the fabric of a broken world and a fallen society.
The people in the world associate those needs as meet when they succeed in the world. Christians see their needs as met by God when we succeed, as the world equates success. Even as Christians, we are not infallible to the same anxieties of the world. We worry about our family, friends, property, careers, and education as much as anyone.
Of the truths the Bible teaches us, Job offers us this lesson: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having things and building a successful life. The problem is equating success with salvation and eternal purpose. Of the 28 funerals I have officiated and the dozens of others I’ve attended, the moving truck has never been present. The fiery chariot has never landed to take the valuables to the “afterlife”. The old bumper sticker still applies, “He who dies with the most toys - still dies.”
The Bible tells us, “The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17) While “stuff” is often necessary things, that “stuff” has created multi-million-dollar industries with thrift stores, garage sales, and spring-cleaning events. Of which I have contributed to over the years. It is a lesson worth teaching, a life worth living, and a question worth asking, “How much stuff do we need?”
3) We are called to live an unlimited life filled with eternity and purpose. Jesus tells us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:9-21)
People have asked me, “What is our purpose on earth as a Christian?” I believe our purpose and priority begins with the Great Commandments, (Matthew 22:36-40) continues with “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:17); “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8); to be followed through with, “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7)
This is only the beginning. This is simply the basis of how we proceed. If we are faithful to these principles, God will reveal his most ultimate plan for our lives. The one thing that God doesn’t want any of us to do is get caught up in a wasted gospel. We know one day we will die; the world is passing away, and we can’t take our stuff with us, but many will still struggle with this temporary world.
Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny: himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? “For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:34-37)
Don’t get to the end of your life and wonder with regret, did I do it right? Wonder right now in an honest faith struggle, “Am I doing it right?”
Right now, there are millions of people that are struggling with life and death in this fallen world. They don’t know what to make of the “wars and rumors of wars”. They do not know of eternity or comfort for eternity. They cannot make sense of the madmen or terrible catastrophes that plague our planet. I pray, as we live our lives by these basics, we can lead many to have a better grasp on the surrounding craziness.
I grieve, I mourn, I struggle with the loss of life, property, time, and hope. Yet, if such things were to happen to my family, I would hope that my Christian brethren would stand by them. To help them grieve, to help them move on, to help them continue to have a confident trust in God. It is only in God and the eternity that God has made for us we can live an unlimited life.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true. Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.” (Revelation 21:1-7)
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Mark Lewis