Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

The Futility of Life

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a

year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.  (James 4:13-14)

 

Those were the Days, My Friend!

Life seems so long and promising when we are young.  As we get older our perspective may change.  I remember the chorus of a song that was popular when I was younger.  It went something like this:

 

Those were the days, my friend
We thought they’d never end

We’d sing and dance forever and a day

We’d live the life we choose, we’d fight and never lose

For we were young and sure to have our way

La la la la la la, La la la la la la

Those were the days

Oh yes, those were the days

 

Biblically I don’t know of very many people who reached old age and thought that life had been all that they wanted it to be.  Jacob said to Pharaoh, "The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage" (Genesis 47:9).

 

Solomon who was wise and “had it all” said,  "As it happens to the fool, It also happens to me, And why was I then more wise?" Then I said in my heart, "This also is vanity." For there is no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool forever, Since all that now is will be forgotten in the days to come. And how does a wise man die? As the fool! Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind" (Ecclesiastes 2:15-17).

 

What will our funerals be Like?

My wife and I spent the winter months in Georgia this year.  When we got home, we found out that one of our neighbors, whom we had been talking to from time to time during our trip, had been taken to hospice.  When I called his wife to see if I could go visit him, she said he had died that morning.  She told me he had been cremated and they were making arrangements for his memorial service.  I have been to several memorial services where the body was cremated but usually they just show pictures of the departed loved one.  I don’t remember very many where the ashes were placed in a little box and where the church ceremony was carried out as though the body were there in a casket. 

 

Two things struck me.  The first was that no matter how loved this man was and no matter what he had accomplished in life, he really had been reduced to a small pile of ashes.  His life which was no doubt a productive one didn’t amount to a whole lot after he died.  Solomon seemed to understand that.   All that was left of my neighbor were our memories of him. 

 

The second thing that struck me was that we believe what we want to believe whether it makes logical sense or not.  If we are going to claim to be Christ followers, shouldn’t we know what the Bible says?  Shouldn’t we let the Lord tell us what pleases Him rather than having us tell Him how we think He should want to be pleased?  The church that had the memorial service made it appear that the church and it’s ordinances were what made it possible for this man to be in heaven.  Of course that grieved me because that means that the church determines our eternal destinies.  This church thinks that they produced the Bible and I believe that the Bible produced the true church.  Because they produced the Bible, they have the right to change it when it suits them.  And according to them he was made a child of God by baptism.  My Bible says we are made a child of God by personal faith in the Lord.

 

Did my friend go to heaven?  I hope so, but if he did, it was because of a time when he came to trust in the Lord.  It was not because of his church or their ceremonies.  Most people will say before a person dies that no one can know for sure that they will go to heaven when they die.  I say that we should know based on the instructions in God’s word whether we have had our sins forgiven before we die.  After we die, there is nothing that can be done to change eternal destinies.  At that point maybe we need to be honest and admit that we don’t know what people really believe and trust and just leave where they stand with God alone.

 

Faith, Hope, Charity

Paul says that the pillars of Christianity are faith, hope and charity.  Faith is not just a feeling, it is confidence in a person or confidence in the promises of a person that we trust.  My confidence is in the promise that Christ paid the penalty that I deserved because of my sin and that by believing that I go free.  Because of my faith,  I have something to look forward to even when life seems pointless and the Bible calls that hope.  But what about this charity or self-sacrificing love?  It was that kind of love that Christ had for me and that is the kind of love that we should have for our “neighbors” whether they be Samaritans or whether they be Gentiles or Jews.  The color of their skin should not affect our charity.  We should have charity for people of all cultures even though we might not agree with all of their lifestyles and beliefs.  This faith, hope and charity, is what prepares us for the day when we too will be in one of those boxes—whether the box be big or small.  It is faith in Christ that gives life purpose and prepares us for the life to come.  My confidence is not in a church, my confidence is in Christ and His Word.

 

Really, all is not futile even if it seems that way some days.  All is not vanity and chasing after the wind.  Of course, I am speaking to those who claim to be Christ followers.  Those who have been raised to believe in other gods or in no God at all will not understand what I am saying, but I wish that they did.  They too are going to end up in a box. The box may be big or it may be small. But what did their lives amount to if they have no secure eternity in their future?

 

Bruce Collins

 

Meditation for the week of April 15, 2018

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