In ancient Rome, a victorious centurion would be celebrated in the streets after returning home from battle.
The people went crazy over him. They gave him gifts, shouted his name in celebration and danced in his honor.
It was like a Justin Bieber rock concert. Everyone adored their protectors whose victory would bless the whole nation and bring honor to everyone.
At the same time, the Romans understood that pride comes before the fall. Of course, it is hard to stay humble if everyone is in love with you.
Their solution was to send a slave before them, proclaiming “memento mori”, remember that you will die.
This would remind the leader that life is temporary. The victory you won today doesn’t make you a god. You’re still imperfect and you are still weak.
Stay humble and remember that you are only human as well.
It would frame his reality into context and bring him back from how the people saw him to who he really was.
It would remind him that he too, is a mortal and his success is only temporary.
Living and Dying
Just like us, the centurion needed to focus on what really matters.
Our life is summarized during our funeral. Its true purpose will be revealed by its impact we had on others.
People will come and people will go but our values can live on in our children and our children’s children. We can build for the next 10 generations and change the world while we are long gone.
Our life doesn’t belong to ourselves nor can we see it as a separate entity. We are planted among a group of people, at a time in history and a plan by God greater than we can ever imagine.
If we don’t focus on the impact we were meant to have on this world, we become disillusioned. If we don’t know where to look at for our destiny, we will focus on what’s natural:
But who ever got satisfied by getting rich and famous? Whoever found lasting peace in the mansions he bought and the things he builds?
Selfishness is a trap. If our goals only serve our stomach, we will squander our purpose on this earth. We will not live satisfied nor will we find peace.
Our minds will race with unrest. We will be chasing the wind, running from project to project to the next new thing.
A change of plans
Do you remember the day Christ became the center of your life?
For a short time, we knew that Jesus is all we need. Light and understanding flooded our hearts and we didn’t need anything else.
The joy of salvation, the explosions, and colors, the grace and honey. We used to glide on a cloud, thanking Jesus and living for the first time.
People on the streets became brothers. Evil was extinct because love ruled our heart. We loved our enemies and wondered how anyone would ever want to sin.
Our beginning gave us a glimpse of what is to come. But as the glory slowly faded, our problems, insecurities and human nature came knocking back at our door.
From that day on until the end of our lives, we faced a new decision:
Pursue or die.
Run the race for the crown of eternal glory or sink into insignificance in the back row of your church.
We all have around 80 years on this earth, give or take a few.
Compare that to eternity. Compare that to being in the throne room before the father who created the galaxies and everything we see. The God who emptied heaven to snatch you away from your doom.
Suffering for the people he loves. Humiliated and tempted, fighting for humanity and raising victoriously (John 15:13).
For this God, our father, friend, and counselor, we now have the opportunity to give our remaining time on this earth. We get to spill our lives for to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).
Oh my God, let me change this world for you! Let me love and conquer, pray and love. Let me raise the young one’s and learn from the old about your goodness. Let my legacy be you. Let my price be you. Let my glory be in you!
All our tears will be wiped away as we go home one day. There will be no pain. But gone will also be the opportunity to stand boldly as all we had was faith.
All we’ll ever lock back at is one life. A life well lived or a life squandered with irrelevance.
Make this life count. It will be over soon.