Summary: It doesn’t matter how long we live. What matters is how well we love Christ in the years we have.
Living for Today
December 30, 2007
I remember a story from a few years ago. An eighty two year old woman appeared on Good Morning America. She had just gotten a face lift, breast implants, botox injections to smooth out the wrinkles, lip resculpting, and a chemical peal. I really don’t know what some of those things are, but it all had required seven hours of surgery and had cost $25,000. When she was asked why in the world she would do this, she replied that there was no point in waiting until she got any older.
Somewhere on the planet this very morning, according to geneticists, is a child who will still be alive 150 – 180 years from now. .That sounds so incredible until you consider how our lifespan has increased over the years.
When Jesus died at around age 33, he would have been pretty old for that part of the world. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the average lifespan in the U.S. was 49. Many women died in childbirth. Many more people died of disease. If you lived to be 60, you were pretty old.
My grandfather died in 1965 at the age of 74, which was relatively old for that time. One of Toni’s grandfathers died in 1971 at the age of 64 following his fourth heart attack. Had he been around now, his doctor would have insisted that his wife quit fixing his breakfast bacon and eggs in lard. They would have performed a heart cath or bypass surgery, and he would have lived a lot longer.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the average lifespan in the U.S. is approaching 80 years. The retirement age is being pushed up and there are people in their 80’s who are running marathons.
Let’s go back to our child for just a moment. If the scholars are correct and this child lives until the year 2157 or maybe even 2187, she will have her own children sometime around 2030 or 2035. Those children may be alive in 2205. Imagine that. Your newborn’s children may still be alive more than 200 years from now.
What could you do if you lived to be 180 years old? You could take more vacations. You could spend more time at the office or place of work. You could plant a bigger garden or plan for a longer retirement. Maybe instead of planting a garden, you could plant trees and expect to see them grow to maturity.
As amazing as all of that is, I’m not sure that lifespan is all that important. I’m not at all sure that we should be so concerned about the length of our years. It seems to me that we ought to be more concerned with the way we live in the years we have.
As we stand on the cusp of a new year, it seems to me that we ought to be more concerned about the state of our souls than the length of our years.
Are we just spending more time on earth, or are we spending more time trying to love God? The prophet Isaiah speaks about loving God like a new bride delights in her husband. What if we spent more time trying to love God like that? Will there ever be enough time to love God like that? Will we ever take the time to love God like that?
The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that it doesn’t much matter how much time we humans have, because we remain essentially the same. I would invite you to remember, just for a moment, the last hundred years. The 20th century was dominated by war, genocide, and the absence of sustained peace between nations. Unfortunately, the 21st century isn’t looking to be much better. We haven’t really increased in decency or morality in proportion to the lengthening of our years.
Whether we live to be 50 or 150, our spiritual goal ought to remain the same as it was in the time of Isaiah…to pursue eternal life and salvation through our commitment to and our love of God.
The Scripture lesson for this morning begins at verse 10 of chapter 61: but for just a minute, let’s go back to the very beginning of that chapter. It begins with a description of the Anointed One who is to come.
The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
If those words sound familiar to you, it is because they are the ones spoken by Jesus in the fourth chapter of Luke, when he was asked to read the Scriptures at the synagogue in Nazareth. You will also remember that, after putting the Isaiah scroll down, Jesus said, “Today, this has been fulfilled in your hearing.”