Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bucket Lists

The movie "Bucket List" with Jack Nicolson and Morgan Freeman is a hit with the movie going public, or so I heard on 680 News this morning. A "bucket list' is the list of things these terminally ill men, played by Nicolson and Freeman, want to do before they die, or as it is sometimes said: "kick the bucket." Probably, I would not comment on the movie except that the news report went on to say that similar "lists" are popping up around the internet as people post lists of all the things they would like to do before they die. In addition, the news report was accompanied by a news bite from someone in the funeral business who observed that such lists help people sort out their priorities and live life to the fullest before they die.

As a Christian I believe it is important to live life to the fullest! But "fullest" must be defined in terms of living to the glory of God and seeking to exalt him in all that we do. However, this is far different than making a list of places we would like to visit or things we would like to do before we die for the simple reason that none of these things are ultimately satisfying or make life worth living. The Bible presents us with a world in which this life is not all that there is. In fact, this life is only the beginning and after our time on earth is done, be it long or short, we will stand in the presence of God who will judge each one of us according to our works. Based on that assessment we will either spend eternity in a new heavens and new earth or we will be banished from the presence of God forever. These realities, the truthfulness of which has been verified by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, call for a "bucket list" which is completely different than those being reported in the media. The fact that "people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27) changes everything.

The wise response to our mortality is to repent, or turn from our own way of life, and believe, or surrender ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ. Whether we get to do all the things we have always dreamed about is beside the point. More important than visiting some exotic location, or skydiving, or driving a racing car, is being properly related to God, having our sins forgiven and being part of the new humanity which is tied to Jesus and no one else. The gospel of Jesus tells us that there is more to life than what we can see with our eyes and hear with our ears and feel with our fingers -- life that is really life is knowing God and Jesus Christ whom he sent (John 17:3). Or in the words of the apostle Paul: "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:13-14). So if you are thinking about writing a "bucket list" don't sell yourself short. For we gain nothing in the end if we gain the whole world and lose our own souls. Make your list in light of the Christ-event and in light of that day when he makes all things gloriously new.

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