Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Five Things Worth Doing Before You Die

Last Sunday, in a sermon entitled "The Middle Years: Crisis? What Crisis?" the preacher tries to share a small video clip to help drill in the point that we need to prioritize our more important things in life. Unfortunately, the video only displays the pictures and the music, but lacks the spoken voices. A dear brother in Christ has found this video clip and has shared it over email. As a service, here are some of my thoughts as well as an embedded segment of the video clip below. Let me summarize this article as "Five Things Worth Doing Before You Die."

1) Reflect and Resolve
See how the opening scene reveals a man who resolves to do what is right and what is important in life. It reminds me of the parable of the Prodigal Son. "When he came to his senses," imply a realization not only what we need to do, but also a resolve to do it.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father. (Luke 15:17-20)
Look at how the prodigal son determines to repent, and to go back to his father.

2) Forgive and Ask for Forgiveness
"I suppose I am responsible, and for that I'm sorry" and "I owe that to you." Forgiveness remains a core element of relationships. Are we going to live through life bearing our hurts and our disappointments with people? Perhaps, we can be free from the burden of unforgiveness. I remember one of my favourite authors, Lewis Smedes who beautifully describes forgiveness as follows,

  • "To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." 
  •  "Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future."
Like the prodigal son, the first thing upon returning to his father is to seek forgiveness. The confession of "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you," is a great reminder that whenever we sin, we sin in two ways. It is firstly sinning against God, and secondly against people. If we are truly God-fearing people, this realization will lead us to seek forgiveness with fellow people as well.

3) Thank Someone and Show Gratitude

Gratitude is another theme in the video. Have we failed to be thankful to God in our lives? Have we failed to show gratitude to our loved ones, our friends, and people living around us? Don't just say it. Show it. The prodigal son demonstrates his gratitude for all his father has been doing. He remembers the abundance that his father has provided even to mere servants. How much more him, as a son? It takes a person who has been blessed in order to bless others. It takes a person who has received much who is able to give much. The trouble is, we tend to take too many things for granted, and in the process, we take other people for granted. The moment we complain about our lack, we fail to acknowledge the plenty that we have ALREADY been given.

4) Find the Joy and Encourage Someone

There is hope. Even though we may not have many years to live, it is important to pass on joy. Last Sunday, the preacher reminds the congregation of the importance to pass the baton to the next generation. That is so important for every Church and Christian organization. Perhaps, leaders at all churches need to take a hard look at themselves, and ask how to help another person, especially a younger person to find joy and encouragement. "Find the joy in your life."

5) Affirm Another

Toward the end of the clip, the narrator speaks to us, "Do something for me." I think this is a wonderful opportunity to pass on the baton. It calls for one to seek out true joy and meaning, in order to pass the finding to the next person or the next generation. That is so important for us, especially for those of us living in an individualistic me-first society. Why are we rushing to make the first million? Why are we eyeing the spanking new car? Why are we climbing the ladder of power? Is it for self-gratification? Or is it for the sake of others? More importantly, how is our worldly pursuit bringing glory and honour to God? Truth is, if we are honest with ourselves, many times, it is all about us.

Do something for others, by first doing something for ourselves. Learn that accumulating wealth, reputation, things, and fame for self is not everything. Use whatever we have to bless, to bring life, and to affirm others.

Some Reservations
Having listed out the five things worth doing, I want to caution readers about the strange theology that is in the clip. "Our lives are streams flowing into the same river toward what heaven lies in the mists beyond the forests." It tends to suggest erroneously that all human beings are on the river to heaven. There is a strong suggestion of universalism, that all roads lead to the same destiny. It is not biblical. If there is any truth, Romans 3:23 says we have all sinned, and Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death. That means that if there is any streams, it is one that is flowing automatically into a river of death. For all the nice teachings about the more important things in life, this philosophy thrown in has spoiled the whole clip for me. My suggestion: Watch it but always let the Bible be your guide, and the final say.

A scene from the movie "The Bucket List" which shows the thoughts of a reflective man, going through some of the items of his bucket list of

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