Having conducted and attended a number of funerals, I have had to think about both the really important things in life, and the least important things in life. God reminds us in scripture that all of our attempts to make a name for ourselves are really not very impressive in the great scheme of things. All of the things we have accumulated pass to others who may or may not use those things the way that we would have wanted. All fame is fleeting. In 15 to 20 years, the next generation will consider today’s most famous person really no differently than someone from ancient history. So when we focus on this life, on the accumulation of honors and goods, on making our unique mark on this world, We need to remember that we’re deluding ourselves if we think those things will last. Psalm 90 says it well: “So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart” (v. 12). We are dust and to dust we shall return.
Another big mistake we make is to think of ourselves as being self sufficient, able to handle all of life’s troubles all by ourselves. That also is simply foolishness and pride-fullness. The kind of pride that refuses help from God and those that genuinely care is just as self-deceiving as putting trust in the accumulation of things. God wants more for us than that, and He has surrounded us with many examples of why worldliness is foolishness. Just read a newspaper or watch the evening news and it becomes obvious. As long as we think that our worldly positions or possessions are of great value or in our control, we cannot find what is of true lasting value, because our trust is misplaced in ourselves, and we are in for ultimate disappointment. The truth is, life is fragile, things are for sharing not hoarding, God gives, and God takes away, and most importantly, there is no true security in anyone or anything but God.
Until we abandon ourselves to God’s mercy and God’s care, we are deceiving ourselves and foolishly trying to be in control of a temporary life we will ultimately loose. Until we come to know Jesus Christ and decide to follow him, we are just clinging to false security. God’s Son Jesus is the Living Word of God from all eternity. He is the one about whom the writer of Hebrews speaks when he says: “The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account” (4:12-13).
Whatever pride that exists in us is an obstacle between God and us, a stumbling block to life as a child of God. “Pride goeth before a fall” – the old saying goes. Jesus says that pride will cause anyone even you and me to fall short of the kingdom of God. We cannot trust in ourselves because our flesh is weak, enslaved to sin, and will fail us.
The Good news however is that what we cannot manage on our own, Christ Jesus will do for us if we will lay down our pride humble ourselves, and turn to Him. St. Paul writes in Philippians 2: “ Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
God’s Son Jesus, the Living Word, became human like us and was tested in every way like us. But He did not sin like us. He was completely obedient to His Father (for us), even unto death (for us). Jesus died for misguided souls like you and me. He died to shower upon us what we don’t deserve, mercy, forgiveness of sins, and eternal salvation. When we are baptized into His death and resurrection, Christ claims us, as His own through no merit of our own. Amazingly, Jesus even calls us, His brothers and sisters. When we have been humbled, when we have come with contrite hearts, when we have admitted that we can not help ourselves and that there is no other helper and no other security than God, Then and only then are we ready to receive what God has always wanted us to have, reconciliation with Himself for all eternity. That is what will last!
The writer is the pastor for Spring Creek Christian Church and Port Jefferson Church of Christ.