My friend Shelly introduced me to Chris Rice, a pretty fantastic Christian musician. In his song Tick Tock (it predated Ke$ha, by the way), he asks, “Am I living or am I dying? Will the world see another day? I hear a baby crying, and I pluck out another gray.” Though I’ve listened to that song countless times—it has a really great drum part—I heard, “Am I living or am I dying?” for the first time the other day.
In the end of Deuteronomy, in chapter 30, these beautiful words appear as instructions to those who dare follow God to the Promised Land. “Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away… No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe. See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity… I have set before you life and death, blessing and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying [God] and holding fast to [God]…” (30:11, 14-15, 19b-20a)
I have to check myself a lot—am I living or am I dying? Am I choosing life or destruction? Am I cultivating hope or feeding despair? I’d like to say I have a perfect average when choosing life, but I don’t. I hope today I do better than yesterday, and tomorrow I do better than today.
There’s a lot of destruction out there. I look at Garland, where a group of folks (classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center) had a publicized contest to see who could be the most offensive to Islam, and then a pair of angry zealots who don’t like when people do that started a gun fight. Two people died. Everyone there, it seems, chose destruction, not life. And, oh, yes, it was completely in Pamela Geller’s free speech to host a contest that blasphemes against Islam, but it was not a choice in favor of life and prosperity. It was death and adversity. It created more anger, more hostility, more vehemence, more revenge, more self-righteous self-justification. More death.
We don’t need more death in this world. There’s too much already, even in the wake of the Reign of God. Resurrection takes intentionality, discipline, and consistent action. It’s way harder, it’s way more expensive in terms of energy, love, and all things, and it’s what we’re called to do.
This Sunday, we’re wrapping up looking at John for a while. As in, we’re finishing the book. We’ll be talking about Peter, about the Church, about what we’re supposed to do in this wake of resurrection, and what it means to tell, share and participate in the story. I look forward to seeing you then. Until then, friends, choose life—I’ll be praying you do. Pray for me that I do so as well, please.