Is Your Life Worth Celebrating?
Dear BPCWA worshipper, As a pastor, God has given me the privilege of ministering to several people in various stages of life. Every man must pass through life’s stages, with 2 key ones – birth and death. Birth is a joyful occasion wherein a new life enters into the world, a soul birthed into a never-ending existence. Then, inevitably, there is death which everyone faces. This is a certainty for every reader. Yet, we often give even less consideration to this than we do our next meal.
A life on earth. Man treasures health, because health is what will keep them alive and on this side of eternity. Yet, no matter how long one’s physical life is, life on earth will eventually end. At this juncture, the immortal soul is separated from the mortal body on earth to where it will be for the rest of eternity. Medical science and doctors cannot do anything when one’s appointed time on earth is up. At best, doctors can guess that one’s end is near but no one really knows when, because it is ultimately only known by God who chooses the time. There have been numerous times when I visited a sick person at home or in the hospital, conscious that the end was near, and preparing them for the life after death. But there also have been times when even during my visit, I didn’t guess that it was so near until I received the call from the family with the news. Some were so close that it was within a day, even though they could converse with me at the visitation. In less than 24 hours from our last meeting, they moved from earthly mortality to eternal immortality. A debilitating stroke can change one’s life drastically or end it suddenly. It does not even take a stroke for one’s life to end suddenly. The elderly know that their time is nearing, but the young often feel that it is far off. I recently ministered to a young lady before she passed away. Two years ago, no one would have thought about her dying. Today, her sojourning time has ended. Death comes to the old and to the young. We do not know when our last breath would be.
A life after death. Believers must be very conscious about and plan for the life after death too! While unbelievers must realise that there is an eternity of hell that awaits all who do not accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour during their earthly lives, I want to write today primarily to believers. We can indeed say that the sting of death has been removed through the finished work of Christ on our behalf in paying the penalty of our sin. Having passed into eternity, the Christian is “absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8). However, there remains a sobering thought that every redeemed child of God must not forget. When we meet Christ, He will not be there to condemn us to a lost eternity. It is definite that none of us will get to heaven even on the smallest merit of “good works” that we have done in our lives on earth. An eternity in heaven cannot be purchased by good works nor by our souls being “purified” in purgatory before heaven, as some erroneously teach. Everyone enters heaven wholly by grace. However, it is important for us to realise that we will not be devoid of emotions after death. We often compare ourselves with unbelievers in this life and feel that we’re not doing too badly. After death, we shall be spending eternity with the redeemed in Christ, in the presence of some who would have given their lives for their faith, and others who would have suffered and endured much for their testimonies. Have you ever thought about what would pass through your mind about yourself as you hear of how they lived a life of faith for the testimony of Christ? Think also about this now – we will meet our Saviour face to face, and He would shine in His radiance – a glory so bright that no man can now see and live. At that time, we will see and understand the reality of how great He truly is, that He is the Almighty God, and more than worthy of supreme honor. He will reveal our every thought and word – including the times when we chose to follow the world or “our hearts” above His will because we thought our way was better than His, when we thought that the holy life He wanted us to live was a dull and boring existence . . . every insulting thought will be revealed in His presence. Imagine the regrets then. By then, you cannot turn back time and relive your life so that your eternity in heaven would be what He intended it to be when He asked you to obey Him while you were living.
A life worth celebrating? It is the trend these days to have a “celebration of the life” of the loved one at funerals. Certainly, we want to remember with fond memories those who were close to us. But often, those who propound this are thinking about minimising the formal religious thoughts, and even about holding such functions in ways that embody what the deceased was passionate about, be it at a restaurant, a club, having a barbecue, or games at a local reserve. While we understand the grief and desire to honour the deceased by those who are left behind, Christians must always ask ourselves – is there anything to celebrate about my life in God’s eyes? Has my life been lived in a way that truly will be worth celebrating in the eyes of God? Or was it purely a carnal life like the unbelievers’ mantra “let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die” (Is 22:13)? If so, we will be wishing when we see our God that we had lived our earthly life for Christ “Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him” (1Th 5:10).
A life to be lived well now. If you are reading this in fairly good health now, then live in a way that will not cause any regret when you meet Christ. And if perchance God has given you some extra time after a diagnosis of a major illness, then ensure that you are “redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph 5:16). Certainly, the hymnwriter well puts it that “nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling” because nothing can buy us our salvation. But if we genuinely realised that, then our hearts would also be crying “must I go, and empty-handed, thus my dear Redeemer meet?”. If we were to be graciously invited to someone’s house for a meal, we go as guests of the host and do not pay an entrance fee or ticket. Yet, to show our appreciation, some would want to bring a gesture to express their appreciation to the host for this invitation. Are you more grateful for being invited to someone’s house for a meal than to be able to go to heaven for all eternity on the merits of Christ your Saviour? How embarrassing and regretful when we see many others not going empty-handed, but we are empty-handed – nothing done for Christ, nothing given to Christ, and nothing lived for Christ!
Oh, time . . . we have so little of it, and yet we waste so much of it. Time is what makes our life. If we were to look back on our life when we are in eternity, how much of it will really matter for eternity? Whether or not your life is worth celebrating depends on how you spend this life for eternity.
Prov 10:7 The memory of the just is blessed
Yours in our Lord’s service,