Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Dangers of YOLO

I feel so out of touch when this kind of thing happens. A few months back, some younger people I know are talking and mentioned something like, "Well, YOLO."

"What's that supposed to mean?" I inquire.

"You've never heard of 'YOLO'?!?" The young group stared back at me in shock.

I refrain from pathetically shooting something back at them along the lines of, "Oh, yeah, well do you know what a caboodle is?!"

And they explain their modern lingo to this 30-something year old, "It means 'You Only Live Once'."

Since that conversation, I've started to notice it on Facebook postings, t-shirts, and such. And I've been musing on that. I've been musing on the idea of YOLO.

In some ways, I feel like I've become more acquainted with the realities of this world more than any other year of my life. It's been a year of walking through some tough stuff with friends: watching multiple girlfriends go through life-altering, thoroughly messy trials. Relationships broken, once stable marriages falling apart, walking through dark places, and other things I couldn't have dreamed up when we first rang in 2012. On top of that, my eyes have been more opened than ever to the world outside the U.S. I'm becoming more educated on children in conditions that make me want to sit and sob or go and throw-up. I feel this stirring, that I just can't sit still; feeling this further hatred of sin's curse.

And that's what has me thinking about this idea of YOLO - this idea that is presented to us over and over in different formats. Do it: you only live once. Make it count: you only live once. You deserve it: you only live once.

But actually the Bible has something quite different to tell me. Hebrews 9:27 says, "It is appointed for a man to die once, and after that comes judgement."

So, actually, you only die once. While I don't think they'll be marketing YODO t-shirts, the truth is that I live twice because after death comes judgement. I'll be judged for how I lived my first life; and then, I'll live my second life for eternity. Whether that second life will be lived paying the penalty for rebellion toward God or receiving unmerited and joy of fellowship with the Savior in a perfect new world, we will be living a second time.

This world is broken. You don't have an iota of sense if you don't know that after what happened in Connecticut last week. If this was all there was, then I wouldn't want to endure it for one more second.

But what if you're living twice? What if you really do believe Jesus when He says to "lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal."?

What I really, truly believed this? What if I really lived my life like this?

Living once tells me to get as comfortable as I possibly can, to make emotional and rash decisions, to get as much pleasure as I can at the expense of others, and to live in a world that revolves around me. Then as we grow older, the happiness we've tried to achieve feels empty and we grow tired of a world that doesn't deliver on our hopes and dreams. The idea of only living once leads to self-centered, indulgent young people and disillusioned older people. 

Living twice tells to me to shed my comfort, to live for something outside myself, and to start seeing my the way I live my life in an eternal light. And, as I told my 10-year-old son recently, it's funny how it works. You would think that living for yourself would make you happy. Logic tells you this is true. But it's empty. Living for God's glory and for eternity; that what makes this for true joy. It defies logic.

Author Paul Tripp says, "As we begin to place our hope in God, we get connected to the promise of eternity, where all that is broken will be fixed and made new again. And as we do this, we look at life in a radically new way. We no longer ask the broken people, places, and things to be the source of our hope. We know they can't be, because they are broken and in need of renewal just like we are."

Sometimes I keep a list in my mind of people that I really can't wait to watch receive their rewards in heaven. I'm going through this list in my head right now, and realizing that none of these people are living the American dream; none of them are living for themselves. Many of these people's lives look pretty lame here. And yet these people have undeniable joy. And a distinct way of living....

They're living twice; and they know it.


"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." -2 Corinthians 4:16-18

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