Tuesday, 17 May 2011

If I knew the day of my death

The news reports a blood test that can predict how long you are likely to live (presumably, barring unexpected interventions). Responding in a Daily Telegraph blog, Michael Deacon writes:
"I’ve always been puzzled by people who urge us to “live each day as if it’s your last”. If I were to take that advice literally, I suspect I would spend my day in drunken delirium, trying to have sex with strangers and telling important people what I really thought of them. This behaviour might have unwelcome consequences if it turned out that the day I did these things wasn’t my last after all."
Isn't that tragic? Reading the column we find that Deacon, who is 30 years old, is apparently deadly serious. If he knew for certain that he had entered his final 24 hours, he would like to behave like an animal. The only thing that stops him from behaving like an animal every day is having to face the consequences.

Contrast this with the historic Puritan and evangelical consensus view of how a believer would hope, if he had the liberty, to spend his final day; something like so. He would gather those near to him who he has had a meaningful relationship with - so, primarily his family, neighbours and friends. He would bid a farewell to each one, testifying to each one that the Lord had been merciful and faithful to him ever since he first believed, encouraging each one that he was about to pass into Christ's presence, and exhorting each one to make sure that he followed him when the time came, and in the meantime to do all he could to advance Christ's kingdom on earth, to leave behind all known sins and to love one another. If there were any with whom he had unresolved conflicts, he would make a final effort at reconciliation, and assure all that he had no malice against them and wished for their greatest good. He would then, mindful of the imminent day of judgment, seek to give final order to his affairs inasmuch as he was able, to make sure that those dependents left behind were not excessively burdened but were provided for as much as possible, and that there were no outstanding debts. He would hope to spend some final private hours in worship and prayer to the Lord, confessing his sins one last time, making sure that accounts with the Lord as well as men were ordered as much as finally possible, praising him for his grace, building up his faith one last time, and readying himself at last to leave this world of sin, pain and death and to enter the presence of God's glory itself.

It was famously said to John Wesley by one who did not share his religion, "your people die well". What an appalling exit to this world Michael Deacon not only considers, but actually desires. What a travesty that a man made in the image of God, made to know and serve God, could actually openly confess to being so depraved in his mind without being ashamed. The Bible tells us that a good amount of the reason why the world is not more full of what Deacon desires is because - as Deacon unwittingly confirms - that God in his grace puts a secret restraint upon the hearts of people, so that they do not feel at liberty to do all they desire.

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