Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die!
Those facing inevitable death from the Black Plague said those infamous words. Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. When faced with the reality of death the sum of a human life was reduced to meeting bodily functions and indulgence, because what did it matter anyways? The person who ate and drank the most, still died in the end.
When someone is faced with their mortality with a timeline placed in front of them, the question of what to do with my time I have becomes very relevant and immediate. Even when mortality seems like a long way off and you feel like there is decades ahead of you, the tick of change moving us forward to the day we meet our creator is still there, in the background, driving our actions and decisions.
What am I suppose to do with this time that I have?
The natural inclination seems to take all of the life I can into myself. If it is eating, eat till you pop. Drink till your blind. Be merry in all of the varied ways you can be merry. Indulge yourself, live a little, you deserve it, right?
But is that living?
Sometimes, when we hit the proverbial mid-life crisis, when a typical lifespan is halfway through and like they say its all downhill from here. The proverbial mid-life crisis looks like a convertible (or something equally big, shiny and loud) and an inappropriate relationship. Like somehow that is the epitome of being alive and if I don’t eat drink and be merry then I will have somehow missed out on life.
Peter, the ancient disciple of Jesus believed he knew exactly what Jesus should be doing with His time and life. (Matthew 16:21-22)
From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.
But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him[b] for saying such things.
“Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”
Jesus only had a short time of earthly life, the clock was ticking in the background and the cross was looming. Jesus spent his time teaching, healing, raising his disciples, preaching the Word. The time he had left, he taught them, had to be filled with many terrible things, with a horrible death and with resurrection. But Peter didn’t want any of that defeatist kind of thinking. Not even going to the part about the resurrection all Peter heard was bad, bad and more bad. No Jesus, this is the time to seize the moment, live your life to the fullest, reach for the crown. Quite simply, Peter wanted Jesus to storm Jerusalem, overthrow the ruling authorities, and reign with Peter at his side enjoying all of the benefits of earthly rule, including the convertible.
But instead of agreeing whole-heartedly with Peter and living a little, Jesus delivers to Peter one of the harshest rebukes against a disciple in the Bible, “Get behind me Satan, for you have on your mind the things of man, not the things of God.”
For Jesus to live, to be fully alive, to live life to the fullest, meant simply picking up his cross, dying and rising again. Nothing else would do. Nothing else would mean being alive, because nothing else would bring life, real life to the world.
So what are you doing with your time?
Because life comes with all of its trappings and workings. We work; we have house and home, family and errands, games to go to and hobbies to enjoy. We are a varied and interesting bunch with all of our things we like to tinker with, try and be challenged by. But what does it mean to really be alive? This is where we get all sorts of weird…
We kinda of get lost in the trappings that come with a life, trying to cling to life and suck the marrow from the bone. Basketball is life. Football is life. Fishing is life. Work is life. Money is life. That shiny, big loud vehicle is life. But do these things last forever? Is this what it means to be alive? If I no longer have or can do these things, are you still living?
Then we have the very important, very serious life matters, of home and hearth, family and children, spouse and parents and grandparents and all that comes with being a part of a family. But even these change, grow, are different with the different stages of a human life. Or what if I don’t have any of these things to really call my own, what life do I have?
If we follow after conventional wisdom and try to eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die, in all of its varied forms, the reality is that it is all simply dust holding on to dust that will return to dust, and its not that far from losing hope and purpose and becoming completely unmoored in this life. Trying to find our life but losing it.
But Jesus offers a very surprising and counter-intuitive way of thinking. A way in faith to not set our minds on the things of man but on the things of God, it is time to die. To die first to all of the things we have allowed to become too important and too God-like in our lives. To die to our sinful pride and our misplaced notions about what real living is all about. To die for myself and to live for Christ. To take up our cross and follow Jesus.
To let the cross of Jesus become the axis that our world spins around and the center that our life evolves around. What happens then is that when we lose our life for the sake of Jesus we find quite surprisingly that what we gain is real and lasting life that can never be taken away from us. With Christ at the center, all of the aspects of a human life spin and find their place, in proper relation and order of importance, both to God and to each other. I become more and more centered, stable and alive. But most importantly the life I gain is life with Jesus; life lived for Him, life without end.
So, take up your cross and follow Jesus, live a little, it’s the only way you really can.