Jump Start # 3253
1 Thessalonians 4:13 “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope.”
I went to the movie theatre the other day. I like Tom Hanks so I caught the movie, “A man called Otto”. That title grabbed my attention because that was the name of my grandfather. I wouldn’t recommend this movie to young audiences. I’ll try not to put spoilers in here for those that want to see it, but it is a classic demonstration of our verse today. A widower cannot deal with the loss of his wife. Time and time again he attempts suicide. Never in the movie is Heaven, God or hope brought up. And, this is the grief that one experiences when life is lived without God. It’s over. They don’t believe that they will ever see that person again. Despair. Agony. Loneliness.
The movie has some funny spots and a touching ending and there seems to be transition that takes place in the character Hanks plays, but it’s all about here, it is all secular. Hollywood left God a long time ago. No passages read. No spiritual help. Nothing. And, as Solomon wondered about in Ecclesiastes, what advantage is there over the fool and the beast? They both die. The same is true of the wise man. Death is the great leveler in life. Walk through any cemetery and you’ll find the graves of local heroes, businessmen, and the town drunk. All resting together, side by side. Same outcome. Same fate.
And, as Solomon later says in that powerful journal called Ecclesiastes, what does the labor of man accomplish? What’s the purpose, or, what’s the point, even if a person lives a long, long life? Without God, it’s all about self. It’s all about stuff. It’s all about trying to maintain happiness in a world that is broken and miserable and that destroys true joy. Life looks good until death enters. What a lonely ending it has without God.
What a different picture for the disciple. He knows where his faith takes him. He understands the divine purpose in life. Stuff and things and trips can put a smile on our faces for a moment, but that’s not what life is about. It must have a purpose. It must have a direction. It must have some meaning, some value. That’s where God makes all the difference. We were put here on purpose for a purpose.
Tears come when we think about the passing of a dear family member, but when that person is a disciple, we know that they live on with the Lord. We know that they are in the best place ever. We know that God will take care of them. Our grief doesn’t shatter us. It doesn’t cripple us. It doesn’t stop us. We journey on with a purpose and a promise. Solomon lived “a life under the sun.” He had a horizontal view of life. And, that horizontal view is depressing. Our view is vertical. We live life ABOVE the sun, that makes all the difference in the world. Not every day will be sunny. Not everything will go the way I want it to. Not every moment is joy and happiness. However, knowing that God sits upon the eternal throne of Heaven makes all the difference.
I fear that for many who see that movie, they won’t see the spiritual bridge that is missing. I expect many will walk away thinking, ‘Yep, that’s life.’ And, many may see nothing wrong with the suicide answer to loneliness. Why not, if this world is all you believe in. Why not, if God is no longer meaningful to you.
What we have in Jesus Christ is hope. We have hope in this life and we have hope in the next.
How powerful the hymn, “This world is not my home.” I do a bit of traveling. I’ve stayed in a lot of places from hotels, to Air B & B’s, to being a guest with brethren. I’ve been in some really fancy places. But, there’s no place like home. There is a comfort level at home. Coffee just tastes better when it’s from your own cup while you are sitting at your own table. We try our best to make this world comfortable, but it just not. There are always reminders that something is wrong. A shooting. A disaster. A scandal. A ugly slur. Broken and needing a good fixing, this world is not my home. This world is like sleeping on a lumpy couch. You turn this way and that way and you just can’t find a comfortable spot. By morning you are worn out. It’s like you wrestled a bear all night long. And, that’s the world for a disciple. Things are just not right. It’s hard to find comfort here. And, so, this world is not my home.
Different kinds of hope. Different kinds of grief. It’s all based upon the direction you are facing. Some are looking here for the answers. Their hope is in the state house, the court house and the White house. For the disciple, we are facing another direction. Our hope is not here, but there. Our hope is not in us, but in Him. And, that makes all the difference, both for now and for eternity.
A man named Otto. A man named Jesus. That difference, is all the difference.