The Life We Are Building
Over the years I have attended many funerals as a pastor. They have been varied in their circumstances and diverse in nature, but there is an underlying thought found in every one of them - remembrance. Remembrance is central to the human experience. Of course, everyone has bad memories about people, places, or events; yet we have an uncanny ability to suppress or overlook those types of recollections. Likewise, we all have memories that we want to keep for a lifetime. They are comforting to us. They warm our hearts and bring to us a sense of satisfaction and belonging.
Nevertheless, at the end of our days on this earth it is the yearnings to have others remember us that weigh heavy on our minds. I have seen this and heard it spoken of over the years and I must confess that I have felt that need to be remembered myself. No one appears to want to be forgotten. We only want our worst qualities and actions to be forgotten. Maybe that is why so many eulogies sound alike. We are just trying to focus on the good in the person - hoping someone will do the same for us one day.
The other day I sat through another funeral and listened to the memories of another recounted and I thought about wanting to be remembered myself. It occurred to me that this should not be my preoccupation. Life should be more than just time spent creating a mental memorial to oneself in the minds of others. There should be a meaningful legacy for others to honor if I have lived the life God would have for me to live.
Although memories of various types are to be expected, those which point others to Christ are preeminent among all others. Our survival in the memory of others cannot be the preeminent accomplishment by which we measure the value of our existence. Instead, it is the value of the actions that our lives leave behind. In particular, for the Christian, it is the value of what we do for Jesus Christ. The life we build must be centered on Christ and the value of what is built is determined by the purity and devotion of our actions.
The Apostle Paul wrote, "By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward." 1 Corinthians 3:10-14 NIV
In the final analysis, it will not be important that I have lived, but that I have shown others that He lives. The glory will not be in my arrival in heaven, but in the meeting of those I have helped to find the way. Memories of what we have built and done in the days past may be wonderful, but knowing that we have left behind a legacy of the knowledge of Christ is even more wonderful and everlasting.