A year or two ago there was an XBox advert broadcast which did a really great job of communicating how brief life is. It was eventually banned in the UK because it showed a child rocketing out of its mother in a labour ward before flying through the air (ageing all the time) and eventually the body of an elderly man plummeted into an open grave. The slogan for the ad was, ‘life is short – play more.’ Not everybody holds the same view as XBox however and Billy Connolly has famously ridiculed the idea that ‘life is short’ by stating – it’s the longest thing we ever do! Everybody laughs and Connolly thinks he’s made another gem of an observation.
The Bible gives us a true perspective on life. A perspective that identifies more with XBox than it does with the Scottish comedian. In the Old Testament Isaiah the prophet compares human life to grass that withers, the writer of Ecclesiastes says life is like a silver cord that one day will be cut and like smoke that simply passes away. The biblical understanding of life on earth is sobering and it’s clear from Scripture that we only ever get one go at it. ‘man is destined to die once and after that comes judgment.’ We will not be coming back as an antelope or budgie – this is it.
So what? How should I live in light of these truths? Maybe I should do a Bungee Jump or go Sky Diving, visit Disneyland (again) and pack this short life with as many exhilarating experiences as possible. But there has to be more to it than that. There must be a greater goal or better purpose than entertainment or accomplishments. There’s got to be one thing that I’ve been given this life for, one thing that’s worth sinking myself into completely. The bible says ‘seek first the kingdom of God.’ In other words the top priority in every aspect of my life has to be to honour God.
Craig Groeschel says in his book ‘if you chase two rabbits both will escape.’ The purpose of this short life is to know Jesus and make a big deal of Him. When Paul the apostle put his life on the scales he viewed everything else as dung in comparison to knowing Jesus. As a new year of ministry approaches I can’t help but think that I’ve chased too many rabbits in the past and been attracted to a pile of dung on more than a few occasions. I am determined to start September with this in mind and as a result be more disciplined/focused with my time.
The author of Psalm 90 prays ‘teach us to see how brief life is so that we will grow in wisdom.’
This is a good prayer.