Thursday, September 10, 2015

Life is Short, Live Like You Mean It

“Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."”       Luke 13:1-5 NASB

At last we come to Luke 13. These verses are complex and may take us a few days to cover completely. 

"Now on the same occasion" refers to the preceding chapter's verses. (Remember, Luke didn't write in chapters. He simply wrote. Later, scholars assigned chapter and verse notations.) The "occasion" referenced here was Jesus' talking with the crowd. You may remember that He had turned from teaching the disciples to speak specifically to the crowd concerning signs of the times and the debt we could not pay

Jesus had closed the discussion of the debt by telling His listeners that the debtor who did not reach a settlement with his accuser would be thrown in jail and not get out until the debt was completely paid. 

Jesus had just completed His discussion of the debt when some people broke in to report a tragic occurrence. A number of Galileans had gone to Jerusalem to present sacrifices before the Lord. The description of the events suggests that the Galileans may have been killing their sacrifices themselves (which was acceptable) before giving them to the priests. As the animals were being killed, Pilate's soldiers burst on the scene and slaughtered the men where they stood. Then men's blood flowed down and mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.

This was not a secret slaughter. It was at the temple, in front of all the people present that day. It was in a holy place, with no regard for the sanctuary. The soldiers did not (apparently) allow discussion or a trial. 

Pilate had an offense against these men, judged them, and condemned them to death. He ordered their execution be done in a most heinous way and, it appears, to take them by surprise when their  guard was down.

Before we move to what Jesus said, let's consider what happened.

A number of men from Galilee had gone to Jerusalem to worship and make sacrifices to their God. They were in the temple, probably the safest place they knew. Soldiers burst in and killed them. It happened so fast, they could not escape and were unable to defend themselves. (At least not successfully.)

Selah. Pause and consider.

These men died abruptly and unexpectedly. They probably knew Pilate had an offense against them, but they went to Jerusalem anyway. They may have been afraid, and probably were, but fear did not stop them from worshipping or sacrificing. No matter their age, they all likely presumed they had more life, more years ahead of them. Just as we presume. Life, however, is fragile and we are not guaranteed length of years.

Life can end in an instant, when we least expect it.

We can walk out our front door, planning to be home for dinner in the evening, and die before we reach our destination. That knowledge should change the way we live. The brevity of life should cause us to treasure every day we're given, to live fully every day. 

Forgive quickly. Apologize promptly. Love fiercely. Give extravagantly. Pray unceasingly. Serve unreservedly. Make a difference.

My friend, Gene Merkl, attaches a quote to the end of every email. I don't know the source, but it describes how I want to live, how we all should live.

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming 'Wow, what a ride. Thank you, Jesus.'"

Some months ago, I heard Sean Malone (founder of CRI) say, "I would rather enter heaven with my head in my hand than to arrive, head intact, and have to admit to our Lord that I left the harvest in the field because I was afraid."

If we lived as these men live, the body of Christ could make an impact on the world that we can't even begin to imagine. It would be risky. It would require courage. It would require commitment and perseverance, but it would be exciting and thrilling and the most incredibly sweet time with our Lord. 

It would be worth it.

We have a choice to make. We can live cautiously or we can live with abandon. 

I choose abandon. I choose joy. 

It is past time to decide how we will live. So let's live as Christ intended us to live.

It's time to live like we believe the faith we proclaim. No matter the cost.
Our Father, forgive us for our timidity. Help us to live with abandon, no reservation. To follow where You lead, to live as You want us to live. Help us to love as You Love. In Jesus' name, amen.
#disciple #TheBible #JesusChrist #livelikewebelieve #worthit #radicalobedience #nomatterthecost #lifeisshort