Rule 2: This Is It (so make the most of it)

My partner Dennis and I often take a walk in the local cemetery. It is a sobering experience but also, strangely, an inspiring one. Graves there date back to the 1700s, right through the 19th and 20th centuries to burials that have taken place in the past few years. Many people died young, not only in previous centuries, but recently. There are many graves of children and babies. Equally, there are many gravestones that record the long lives some people lived, even in the years before modern medicine.

All of these people, whatever the extent of their existence, lived real lives. They experienced the same highs and lows as those of us alive today. They enjoyed love and celebrated the same occasions we do. They suffered pain and hardship in much the same way as us, probably more so. They shared the same hopes and aspirations, for themselves and their children, experienced the same successes and disappointments. They sought meaning, some of them finding it (or having it imposed on them post-mortem) in religion, if the inscriptions on their tombstones are anything to go by. Quite a few modern graves have them to.

And yet, to what end? Every one of these people is gone. Long gone in most cases. They and their concerns, loves, hopes, dreams, worries and aspirations, whatever they were, died with them. None of them, not even those who trusted their souls to Jesus, has a renewed existence. Not one of them has gone on to a new life here or in heaven. Death was the end, as it will be for us too.

Which is where the inspirational aspect of contemplating the brevity of existence comes in. The few decades for which we are alive (if we’re lucky) is all there is. They are the only time we will experience life. We owe it to ourselves to enjoy each and every moment as well as we’re able. This life is not a prelude for another, better one after death (what sort of nonsensical contradiction is that?) This is it.

So, live the life you have. Savour every moment, even in lockdown or the mundanity of the daily grind. Change whatever it is that stops you from living. Live life fully while you can.

6 thoughts on “Rule 2: This Is It (so make the most of it)

  1. That’s right, Neil. We can definitely find some common ground here even if we don’t agree concerning spiritual matters. It seems to me that life is a gift to be lived to the fullest extent, not in fear and bondage. Every day so many positive things can be found and ways to make a difference. I think our mind set can mean alot too . You know, do we see the glass half full or half empty kind of thing? Best wishes and good thoughts coming toward you and your partner.

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    • Thanks, Becky. I’m interested you think we have some common ground here when I specifically rule out basic tenets of Christianity (resurrection and the like). If you don’t subscribe to this central plank of the faith while deriving your principles from somewhere other than the bible – which, for example, clearly disapproves of homosexuality and those who hold different religious beliefs – why do you consider yourself to be a Christian?

      It seems to me you cherry-pick from the bible that which you regard as ‘good’ (Jesus’ love thy neighbour) while ignoring its divisiveness and condemnation of others, because these latter are incompatible with your pre-existing views. I’d venture to say your inclusive morality, which is commendable, is derived from a modern liberal culture, not the bible at all. It would be unrecognisable to the likes of Paul and maybe even Jesus (assuming he existed). That being the case, why do you bother with the superfluous trappings of ‘faith’?

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      • Hi, Neil, I’ve shared a link here to Evangelicals Concerned. If you have time will you go to this, and click on “clobber passages” on the top. I genuinely would like to hear your opinion. These folks are probably more conservative than I am in other areas. But, in a nutshell, I agree with them that the Scripture does not address sexual orientation as we understand this today. Here’s the link.

        https://ecinc.org/

        For me, this isn’t about simply cherry picking the Bible. I feel like it has more to do with rightly “dividing the word of truth.” Obviously, it doesn’t make sense to think that all contradictory religious convictions can be equally true. But, this doesn’t mean they are all completely false either, and that we can’t find common ground.

        The Bible talks about those in other nations who fear God and who work righteousness..who are acceptable to Him. How can we limit God? Can Christ work through other faiths and connect with people in ways that we can’t fully understand. I don’t have a definitive answer but based on the incarnation, I feel like we can trust God’s wisdom and mercy. And, if I’m wrong about this, I trust God will reveal this in His time.

        When I’ve gotten together with people from other faiths, we’ve sat down and dialogue together sharing our faith and perspectives. Then we attempt to find common ground. I trust that God’s Spirit is working through this process to reveal truth and to show Christ. I’m also able to learn from their perspective as well. I prefer this approach rather than to beat folks over the head with the Scripture. 🙂

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      • Interesting link, Becky. But I’m not not a Christian because I’m gay. I’m not a Christian because it isn’t true.

        You frequently write about ‘feeling’ – as in ‘I feel… it has more to do with dividing the word of truth’ above – demonstrating that your faith is based on subjective feelings and not on evidence or anything that’s independently verifiable. Though of course I’m familiar with terms like ‘Christ’s work’, ‘the incarnation’ and the working of ‘God’s Spirit’, I have to tell you they are specious, empty phrases. They mean nothing outside of the ‘feelings’ you and other believers imbue them with.

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  2. Ok, Neil, thanks for checking out the link. We can only agree to disagree. But, perhaps this does illustrate my argument relating to the importance of understanding and applying things like genre or cultural context to the understanding of Scripture. I think it’s a mistake to use the Bible as some kind of cookbook or like a version of Mr. McDonald’s farm, “here a verse, there a verse, everywhere a verse” to illustrate what people already hope is true. For me, that really is not taking Scripture seriously.

    I should add that I don’t think the resurrection of Christ means we shouldn’t treasure this life that God has given us in the here and now. In a real sense, eternal life starts now. It’s not just “pie in the sky” when we die.

    For me, the strongest objective argument which I find most persuasive toward the existence of a creator, in general, is the “fine-tuning argument.” I’m sure you’re familiar with it.

    I actually agree with you that no evidence, either way, can be absolutely conclusive. There is an element of faith and choice involved IMO whether someone is an atheist or a committed Christian believer. We all have to decide and walk out our own path. I want to say that I’ve always appreciated our discussions together, well, for the most part. 🙂

    Anyway, best wishes again on your new blog and different direction. I wish that I was doing as well with my own New Year’s Resolutions.

    Pax.

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