Based solely upon observation and without statistical research and reports to bolster my claim, I believe that the one thing most people want to do before they die is to leave behind something that will cause them to be remembered. While some work to accomplish a specific goal and others go about it haphazardly, in the end their hope is that people will remember them even if for just one thing. How about you?
Great tales of heroic adventures, biographies and autobiographies, and even superhero comic books (to name but a few) feed the imaginations of young and old alike. Every tale of great courage, the overcoming of tremendous odds, or tireless efforts in pursuit of a goal leaves us holding on to the possibility that the story could be about us one day.
As followers of Christ Jesus, though, we are presented with a different set of values and goals. While the Bible is filled with tales of great heroics there are as many, if not more, stories of failure. For every person of strong faith there are people who get it wrong. What is the message here? As we read the teachings presented throughout the Bible, we see so many guidelines that seemingly conflict that it’s no wonder so many treat it as little more than a story book.
There is, of course, more to the Bible than stories. Woven into every book is the witness of a love so great that it will not give up or let go. Modeled in every act of restoration and displayed in every gift of renewal is love. Love is behind the account of creation and the ending account of re-creation. Love tempered with justice and mercy is the single most identifying characteristic of God. That is why we have the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. That is why we have the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us in our everyday lives. That is why Jesus—God’s gift of love—identified love of God and our neighbor as the greatest teaching.
Why do I talk about love so much and stress the need to be loving toward all? One reason is that all of us, me included, can do better at loving God and my neighbor. It is sooo easy to fall into the trap of believing that we have that part of our lives down pat. And yet, how often are we surprised with a wakeup call when we come face-to-face with the evidence that we have acted without love?
The second reason is that if we are truly serious about leaving behind something that will cause people to remember us, we could do no better than to have them share the stories of how we loved others. Love is never out of style. It is, instead, the greatest hallmark of a life well lived. No one ever confesses a wish to have worked more, accumulated more possessions, or achieved greater standing over others as they lie on their death bed.
So, I ask you today to look around you. Who are the people that need to experience the love of God through you? Who have you found difficult to love? How might God be calling you to expand your witness of love? And finally, what is it that you truly want people to remember you for?
Grace and peace,