What Are You Living For?
Knowingly or unknowingly, people live for things they hold most dear. The hungry children in Somalia live to get enough food to stay alive. People in economically rich countries aspire to have a life of comfort and enjoyment. They spend their entire lives working hard to achieve maximum satisfaction in life. But after all the aspirations of life are attained, what comes next? Death! According to the Chinese “Five Blessings,” a person endowed with a good life will experience longevity, prosperity, good health, virtuous living, and die a peaceful death.
Two Generations, Two Paths
In times past, young Christians from Western countries devoted their lives to respond to God's call for mission work. These young Christians left for distant lands in the Far East, Africa, China, India, Myanmar, and Central and South America. They left behind their beloved homelands of America and Europe. At that time, many Far East countries were still quite uncivilized, and people there did not welcome the foreign visitors’ presence. Yet these young Christian missionaries were persistent in their mission to pour out their love to the mostly pagans there. As a result, many of these missionaries died in the prime of their lives. Some were even massacred by the very people they were trying to reach with love.
Contrast this group of young people with numerous young people in Western countries today. They are dying in the prime of their lives too, except from unconventional causes—drug use, violence, and lustful addictions. These young people refuse to let God govern their lives and thus hand their lives over to folly and Satan.
One wonders: If those missionaries who died young had not answered God's call to sacrifice their lives for the sake of Christ, would they have been spared from death? No. All of us have to die someday, somehow. The only difference is when we die and how we die. Some die an unworthy death; others die for a cause bigger than themselves. Christ died at age 33. For followers of Christ, it is not important how long we live on this earth. The most important thing is what we are living and dying for. Is our life meaningful and helpful to others? Are we living to glorify God? Are we leaving behind a legacy of eternal value?
Called to Give
Jesus Christ lived and died for the purpose of saving people from their sin. In life, He showed us how to live the human path, revealing God's righteousness and loving-kindness. In death, He defeated the power of evil and conquered the power of death. He died to redeem sinful mankind so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
The life and death of Jesus Christ answered many puzzles that could not be known in ages past. He gave up His life for us—while we were still sinners—because of His great love. To love is to give. Christ sacrificed Himself to redeem the sinful world. As Christians, we are called to follow His footsteps—to be givers, for the sake of God.
God's Power Changes Lives
A photo of a missionary, taken with patients afflicted with leprosy, shows the fragile bodies and terribly distorted faces of several lepers. The missionary's hand on the shoulder of the ugliest patient shows his compassion. He is not afraid to touch these patients whom he sees not as ugly but as beautiful. One gets a sense that God is there, loving these patients through this missionary.
As mere humans, we have little to offer others. Within ourselves, we have little, but when we place the little we have in the hands of Christ, He has the power to increase the impact on others. The Bible tells about a small boy who put five loaves of bread and two small fish in the hands of Jesus. With that, Christ satisfied the hunger of 5,000 people!
For forty years, a murderer hid in the wilderness for fear of being captured. He tended sheep, living the life of a shepherd. He was forgotten by all of his contemporary acquaintances, and no one would have put any hope on this fugitive. Yet, in God’s hand, this murderer, Moses, became a strong leader, guiding over two million Jews out of bondage in Egypt. Joseph, wrongfully accused, spent years of his life in a prison, suffering a punishment he did not deserve. Yet, he later became the prime minister of Egypt. God used Joseph to save Egypt during a time of famine, so that during seven years of drought, the people survived with plenty.
Live Well to Die Well
A life that is placed entirely in the hands of God will be fruitful. We will not be empty-handed when we see Jesus Christ, our Savior. On the contrary, all our earthly achievements will be in vain. The question, “How can my life be eternally meaningful in the eyes of God?” deserves to be answered.
This makes me ponder: If those who die shockingly young today—not from drug abuse, violence, or addictions, but like their counterparts decades ago—died for the sake of Christ and for the eternal good of others, how different would their lives be?
The world we live in is calling for Christians to point the right way. The world needs us to seek the lost for the Lord Jesus. We can respond to this call by dedicating ourselves to care for others and having as our sole purpose in life to glorify Christ.