Like a lot of America, last Sunday night I watched parts 1&2 of “The Last Dance” documentary on the 1998 Chicago Bulls. In this film, they bounce back and forth between two timelines … the 1997-1998 Bulls’ season and the “back story” on the stars on that team.
In one scene you see Michael Jordan being mobbed by adoring fans in Paris before the 97-98 season began, and then in the next scene, you see pictures of a 16 year old Jordan being cut from his high school team.
In another scene you see Scottie Pippen making a critical defensive stop on an NBA court, and in the next you see Pippen surrounded by his family as a scrawny middle school kid from rural Arkansas.
In short, the story was very compelling to watch … but why? Why do I care about a 16 year old (who I never met) who got cut from his High School team? After all … MILLIONS of people get cut from teams all the time! Why do I care about this child from a big family growing up in poverty? BILLIONS of people grow up in poverty! Now, theologically, we know why we care – these are people who are created in the image of God, so they matter … but my curiosity in the story goes even further. I want ALL the details of their lives because of how their stories ended.
Michael Jordan is the GOAT. Therefore, in light of how His career ended, the earlier details of his life add insight and color to a bigger story. Some say Scottie Pippen was the greatest #2 in NBA history … therefore how He got THERE matters. I’ll take it one step further. My story intersects with their story because I grew up playing basketball and watching this team play — they were my heroes. So their story matters to me because of how their story ends and how my story intersects with their story.
I have been reflecting on that today …
In the Bible, a LOT of attention is placed around the “end of the story.” Biblical prophecy runs throughout the Bible. A very large percentage of the Bible IS prophetic in nature. Jesus’ last sermon to the crowds was on “the end times.” The last book of our Bible looks toward the end of the story. The end matters.
Why is there such an emphasis on the end? I can think of several reasons, but today I want to highlight two of them:
- Seeing how the story ends, demonstrates that Jesus is truly the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. In the end, every knee will bow before Him and He will be exalted for all time. Knowing that is how this world ENDS, reminds me why the details of Jesus’ life matter. Because He is truly the GOAT, I should care about His birth, His life, what He did, what He taught, etc. Who He is MATTERS! Thinking about the end of the story reminds us of this.
- Seeing that at the end of the story we will all stand before HIM, reminds me that His story intersects with my story. I am accountable to Him, therefore how I respond to Him today MATTERS!
Now, in light of this principle, I want to make a two applications to our lives today:
- Remembering what will transpire in eternity … thinking about “the end” … is a helpful clarifier for us. In this COVID-19 era, it is possible for us to reduce our lives down to survival – as if it were possible for us to live forever in our current condition (if only we make the right health decisions). The bottom line is, WE KNOW WE WON’T LIVE HERE FOREVER. Thinking of the end reminds us of that. My goal in life is not to cling to my life but to give it away to others in the name of Jesus Christ. As Paul says in Philippians 1:21-24, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.” Thinking about the end (He would be with Jesus forever) clarified Paul’s view of life and death. Both revolved around Christ. If he lived, he would have more opportunity to bless others in Jesus name. If he died, he would be in the presence of Jesus. Thinking of the end, clarified Paul’s view of life to a simple principle: to live is to follow Jesus and help others follow Him as well … to die is to be with Jesus! Knowing this, ought to raise our vision for our lives today beyond survival to revival … beyond physical preservation to spiritual transformation. I am not suggesting that we should not live our lives utilizing best practices in physical health … but I am saying that our lives are about more than just our physical health. Looking to the end clarifies that for us. How will you pour out your life today in serving others and pointing them to Christ? He is what matters most for all time, therefore He is what matters most today.
- Seeing how easily Jesus will defeat His enemies upon His return (see Matthew 25:31-46 or Revelation 19:11-21) reminds us that He is greater than all things. No army that rises against Him will stand. Everything and everyone – even Satan himself – who try to thwart His agenda will be defeated. This means that COVID-19, eternally speaking, doesn’t stand a chance. I don’t see a virus reigning on the throne in the future, so why should I allow it to dominate my emotional well-being today? We can have an appropriate respect for harmful things while we live this life. Washing our hands, practicing social distancing, heeding public health guidelines are all reasonable things to do with our bodies … but don’t allow the appropriate respect we show illness or the economy to rule over our souls. In the end, it is Jesus who is King, and so we can rest in Him today. Looking to the future reminds us that He “has this.”
So, as we live our lives out as players in a bigger story, we can look to the end to remember what matters most today. If we are trusting in Christ, then we are on His team and get to share in His victory in the end. If you have not yet trusted in Christ, then you can do so today! If you are unsure how to begin that relationship, message me and let’s talk. We all have a back story on how we became a part of His story … and because of who He is, all those stories matter!