Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Live Like You Were Dying

Is Carpe Diem a Biblical Way to Live?

Occasionally pop culture produces something that echoes the voice of God Himself. Often the voice of God is so mingled with “non-God” voices that the biblical value is nearly eclipsed by the unbiblical ones. But occasionally pop culture produces an echo of God’s voice that is so loud and so true, the biblical value can’t be missed.

About a month ago I heard Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying.” The point of the song is obvious: life is precious; don’t waste it! It reminded me of the movie Dead Poet’s Society, with its compelling theme: Carpe diem! (“Seize the day!”) The song and the movie both inspire us to live with passion, to seize every opportunity, to squeeze every drop of living we can out of life! In our greatest dreams, we long for a life marked by fervor and intensity and exhilaration. Our souls resonate with Thoreau’s fear: “not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived” (Walden).

But does this approach to life find its original expression in the Bible? Are Tim McGraw and Professor Keating (Dead Poet’s Society) and Henry David Thoreau echoing the truth of God when they implore us to live with all our might?

Jonathan Edwards thought so. In his late teens he developed a list of personal resolutions that guided and motivated him for the rest of his life. Resolutions 5-7 read like this: “Resolved, never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.”

As we would expect, Edwards’ philosophy of life is spelled out explicitly in the Bible. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart” (Col 3:23). “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…” (Eph 5:15-16; cf. Col 4:5). “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins” (James 4:14,17). Apparently, half-hearted living is not a biblical option!

So I want to add my voice to God’s and Edwards’ and all those from the culture and say to you: “LIVE!!” Don’t fritter away your precious life on video games, surfing the web, plodding through malls, or watching TV. Live!

I want to wrap up with a few suggestions for how to “seize the day!”
· Realize that wasted hours become wasted days, which become wasted months, which become wasted years, which become a wasted life. So start seizing the day by seizing each hour.
· Take every opportunity you can. Realize that today is a gift and tomorrow is not guaranteed. You might never get this chance again. So do it now!
· Cultivate a sense of wonder and originality in how you look at life. When other people see a homeless bum, consider whether you might have just seen an angel (cf. Heb 13:2).
· Find something worthy—some cause, some person, some mission, and devote your entire life to it. I would argue that the best choice here would be knowing and making known Jesus Christ.

So what are you reading this blog for? Go LIVE!!

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