“I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world. In others’ eyes my life is an epitome of success.
However, aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to.
At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and
wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death.
You can employ someone to drive the car for you, make money for you but you cannot have someone to bear the sickness for you.
Material things lost can be found. But there is one thing that can never be found when it is lost – ‘Life’.
Whichever stage in life we are at right now, with time, we will face the day when the curtain comes down.
As we grow older, and hence wiser, we slowly realize that wearing a $300 or $30 watch – they both tell the same time…
Whether we carry a $300 or $30 wallet/handbag – the amount of money inside is the same;
Whether we drive a $150,000 car or a $30,000 car, the road and distance is the same, and we get to the same destination.
Whether we drink a bottle of $300 or $10 wine – the hangover is the same;
Whether the house we live in is 300 or 3000 sq. ft. – loneliness is the same.
You will realize, your true inner happiness does not come from the material things of this world.
Whether you fly first or economy class, if the plane goes down – you go down with it….”
These are the last words from Steve Jobs, reportedly.
I return to this same theme often in my thinking and writing: this life is short. We put so much energy into it, and we act often as if our time on this Earth will continue indefinitely, but it won’t. It doesn’t matter how accomplished, wealthy or powerful a person is, death is inevitable.
The recent suicides of Anthony Bourdain, the famous cook, food connoisseur and TV personality, and fashion designer, Kate Spade, are reminders that health, wealth, fame and influence do not satisfy our deepest longings and do not provide sufficient meaning or purpose in life to overcome depression. Many very wealthy and influential people have taken their own lives, suggesting that having everything a person might desire in the material world still leaves us lacking. So what is the point of life?
I have experienced an awful lot of dying in my world recently. People that I know, friends and family of people that I know, one after another, many people in my world are dying lately.
Frankly, from the moment we are born, we begin to die. This isn’t a pleasant thought, but this is where my head is going as I read my Facebook feed, offering condolences, prayers and thoughts, one after another.
Our cells begin to die off from the moment we are born. Sure, they regenerate. Our cells die off and regenerate throughout our lives. As our lives go on, however, the dying process speeds up, it picks up in intensity, the dying outpaces the regeneration and it results, eventually, in our natural deaths… if something doesn’t kill us sooner.
It could be depressing to think about. On the other hand, it is natural. This is the way it is.
Why do we even care?
Really, why does death bother us so much? Does my dog think about dying?
If death is simply a fact, a matter of life, a natural phenomenon, what’s gotten into our heads about it? How do we explain our preoccupation with death?
The tree of life is mentioned only three places in the Bible. The first and most prominent place the tree of life appears in the Bible is in Genesis. The Tree of Life is one of two trees specifically identified in the garden. The other tree, of course, is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
It really doesn’t matter for purposes of considering our present reality. From dust to dust is our current condition, but the tree of life appears three times in Proverbs and again in the Book of Revelation.
The fact that it appears again in Revelations, the vision of the ultimate redemption of mankind and victory of God, gives us hope. Though we are presently cut off from it, the tree of life figures into God’s ultimate plan and purpose. The tree of life appears on either side of the “river of the water of life… flowing from the throne of God….”
Where do we find the tree of life in between the Garden of Eden and standing beside the river of the water of life from the throne of God? Let’s take a look.
“For the present form of this world is passing away.” (1 Corinthians 7:31)
Perspective makes all the difference in how we see the world and live our lives. The perspective of faith is wholly different than the perspective of skepticism. The person who has been born again, born from above, born of the spirit, is a new creature; the new has come and the old has passed away. We are no longer of this world, though we continue to live in it.
Do we really grasp the meaning of these things? Sometimes I wonder. I wonder about myself as I look back at the things that have captured my attention at times, the anxiety and worries I have had about temporal things, and all the time I have wasted doing trivial things.
In reading through the Gospel of Luke, the doctor, historian and traveling companion of Paul, two dialogues appear in chapters 18 and 19 about men of wealth. They are the stories of the Rich Young Ruler and Zacchaeus, the tax collector.
Both men are rich and are tied into the local power structure. They both seek out Jesus and encounter Him, but one turns away, saddened because of his wealth, while the other receives Jesus joyfully. And, then there is the story of Ananias and Sapphira. They had become part of the early church, but wealth became their undoing.
All three stories deal with wealth and possessions and relationships with God. And more importantly, they deal with the heart. We will review each story in this three part series on wealth and relationship to God.
“[T]he wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23.
We tend to view sin in moralistic terms, but we don’t need to view it that way. The adage, “we are what we eat”, is an apt description for sin, though we tend to view it in moralistic terms as reaping what we sow. 
Although sin is at the heart of morality, the emotion of morality in this modern, post Christian age in the US may cloud a clear view of sin and the relationship between sin and death. Men have tried to hijack morality and claim it as their own, but, if God exists, He is the moral standard; further, without God, there is no such thing as objective morality.
But that’s not what this piece is about. Let’s put aside the issue of morality and take the emotion out of the equation. Let’s take the emotion out of sin and see what is left.