The actor Keanu Reeves (of The Matrix fame) was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert recently. At one point, Colbert asked his guest, “What do you think happens when we die, Keanu Reeves?”
Both men are no stranger to tragedy. Colbert lost his father and two of his brothers to a plane crash when he was ten. Reeves and his girlfriend, Jennifer Syme, lost their daughter a month before she was due. Syme later died in a car accident.
Reeves paused, considered, then replied simply: “I know that the ones who love us will miss us.”
After Reeves answered Colbert’s question, the host paused, looked into the camera, and smiled.
“If a man dies, shall he live again?”
A twenty-four-year-old Norwegian woman rescued a puppy she found while vacationing in the Philippines. She brought the puppy back to her resort, where she washed it and played with it. Her family later told reporters that she received “small scrapes” from the dog.
When she returned home, she fell ill. She was admitted to a hospital on April 28, where physicians determined she had contracted rabies from the dog. She died on May 6.
In other news, two sightseeing planes collided Monday afternoon off the coast of Alaska. Six people were killed. And a traveling carnival worker has confessed to killing two women and a teenager within an eighteen-day period in Virginia.
Humans face no more relevant question than the one asked by Job so long ago: “If a man dies, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14).
“Be not wise in your own eyes”
As John F. Kennedy noted, “We are all mortal.” Given the reality of death, I am amazed by the degree to which people are willing to bet their eternity on their personal opinion.
Imagine Stephen Colbert asking Keanu Reeves, “What do you think happens when you contract cancer?” Would Reeves respond to a malignancy based on his subjective beliefs or on an oncologist’s professional experience?
Our opinions don’t change reality. The Queen of England exists whether I believe she exists or not. Heaven and hell are real, whether I believe they are real or not.
Isaiah warned his day and ours: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20–21).
Wise King Solomon cautioned us: “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil” (Proverbs 3:7). Paul, the brilliant apostle, agreed: “Never be wise in your own sight” (Romans 12:16).
Nonetheless, when it comes to our eternal destiny, our secular culture is convinced that opinion is fact. Has Satan fostered a more dangerous and popular deception today?
How Satan tempts believers
It’s easy for Christians to reverse the equation.
Followers of Jesus know better than to claim that our eternal destiny depends on our subjective beliefs. We understand that we have eternal life only through our Savior’s death on our behalf (Romans 5:8; Acts 4:12).
So, our enemy tempts us to treat the present in the same way our secular culture treats the future.
Since our salvation is assured, we can be persuaded to live as we wish while here on earth. We know we can confess our sins and be forgiven for them (1 John 1:9). We know that no sins we commit in this life can keep us from heaven in the next life.
As a result, we can be “wise in our own eyes,” basing our decisions on popular opinion and personal agendas. We can “go along to get along,” living for this world in this life and trusting that we will live for the next world in the next life.
But this is not authentic Christianity.
Jesus was clear: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Paul testified, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). He called us to follow his example: “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1).
“How sweet are your words to my taste”
If we live like the world, why would the world want what we have?
Conversely, if we live for Jesus now, we will have joy and peace the world cannot offer (Philippians 4:4, 7). Others will be drawn to his light in us (Matthew 5:16). And they will find the abundant life of Jesus now (John 10:10) and eternal life in our Lord (John 11:26).
God’s wisdom is as near as his word: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:103–104). And his wisdom is as close as our next prayer: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).
As you make decisions today, will you be “wise in your own eyes,” or will you seek the wisdom of God?
NOTE: How do you think God feels about America?
I asked myself that question before writing my latest book, How Does God See America? And the many pressing issues of our day made me wonder: Have we strayed too far? Or is God being patient?
The answer awaits you in How Does God See America?