Do you have a bucket list? Are all of your life goals wrapped up in it? Or do you have a fear of missing out, #FOMO for some? Most people have a sense of adventure, and everyone’s adventure drive including places and things to do will look different. Not everyone will want to jump off a cliff into the sea.
But there is a sense in us, a longing for something else…and it can be easily mistaken as a longing for adventure. Don’t get me wrong; adventure in of itself is not a bad thing. It’s when we place adventure, our bucket list, or FOMO above our longing for Christ—our true home—that we get into trouble. Not a slap on the wrist, but truly missing out in this short time we have here.
Sam Allberry is a pastor, global speaker, and an editor for The Gospel Coalition. He has written an article titled “Why Christmas is the Antidote for FOMO” on TheGospelCoalition.org. He points out the popularity of shows and books like 50 Places to See Before You Die. Allberry writes,
“That this has all been so successful reveals something very significant about ourselves. It flags what has become a great concern for many. We want to experience the best of what’s out there before it’s too late. It’s very much a first-world problem: for those of us who don’t worry about putting a roof over our heads or food on the table, our greatest fear seems to be getting to the end of life and feeling we’ve not gotten our money’s worth.”
Someone’s bucket list in a poverty-ridden third world country will look very different. There are people just trying to survive in this world; yet those of whom know Christ are happier than many “first-worlders.” Why is this? Allberry comments on a New York Times article stating that much of this fear of missing out comes from social media envy…that gorgeous vacation picture on Instagram, a glamorous event photo on Facebook, a tweet about meeting a famous person, someone’s spectacular Pinterest board…and so on. Allberry captures it perfectly with this statement:
“We’re left with the impression that everyone else’s life is more glamorous and pleasurable than our own.”
And if there’s one thing humans are really good at it’s comparing their life to someone else’s. And culture does nothing to help it. The more you feel like you’re missing out or have less than someone else, the more you will buy into things or ideas.
But what if you don’t need to buy anything or go anywhere to transcend your fear of missing out? What if there is something greater than all the possible adventures on earth?
There was one man who had only one thing on his bucket list, and he did not have a fear of missing out because the Lord had revealed to him that he would not die before it came to pass and before he saw it with his own eyes. I’m talking about Simeon in Luke’s Christmas narrative. Not much is known about him historically except for what Scripture tells us in Luke 2:25-27:
“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.”
“There was one thing for Simeon to see before he died. Just one. Salvation.”
It was not a normal thing to bless babies as the savior of the world. Yet, Simeon held this baby in his arms and believed God—he believed this was the long awaited Messiah come at last to save His people. What joy he must have felt to be chosen, to be allowed to hold the Savior and speak words revealed to him by the Holy Spirit who was with him.
“And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, ‘Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.’ And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.’” –Luke 2:27-35
“There’s huge sorrow ahead for Mary, the deepest sorrow for any mother: seeing her son die. The greatness that lies ahead for her child, the rescue God will accomplish through him—all of this will come about through his death.
This may not be the Christmas present we’d expect. But it’s the present we most need. And it all begins with the arrival of this baby.”
To read Sam Allberry's article in full please visit TheGospelCoalition.org.
Christmas gives us the greatest gift of all—salvation and life everlasting—through a baby born in humble means, a baby who would grow up to be the suffering servant. He is the Messiah, who shed His own innocent blood on the cross, who took on all the sins of the world and the wrath of His father. God took on sin and with that sin the just wrath against it once and for all, so that there would be no separation between man and God. Grace is now freely available through the Spirit to those whom He grants eyes to see and ears to hear.
Crosswalk.com Contributor Dr. James Emery White offers this “bucket list” for Christians to help put life into perspective:
1.Build a relationship with a non-Christian and share your faith in Christ.
2. Take at least one bungee-jump of faith related to obedience.
3. Read the Bible in its entirety.
4. Find a church home and invest yourself in its community and mission.
5. Serve the poorest of the poor.
iBelieve.com editor Kelly Givens writes,
“…it really is in the mundane, everyday moments of life that God does his best work on our souls. We long for mountaintop experiences, those euphoric feelings of closeness and connectedness to God, and we falsely believe these are the moments “worth living for.”
She offers this prayer:
Lord, help me see the adventures on the mountaintop for what they really are: beautiful, but fleeting. Help me long for a life deeply rooted in You and abounding in fruit that comes from a life lived faithfully, even in the mundane.
This Christmas and every day remember that there’s only one thing to miss out on in your time on earth, and it’s something with eternal consequences. There may be several places you’d like to visit, which you may or may not accomplish in your time on earth, but they are nothing compared to the life that is waiting.
My mind is blown when I think about the fact that all of the fallen beauty on this earth is simply a shadow glory pointing to the one true glory. That the greatest life you can imagine, if you could piece the “perfect” life together on earth is nothing—absolutely nothing compared to a fully sanctified life in God’s presence.
Remember this passage this Christmas:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” –John 1:14,16
There’s only one thing to miss out on in this world…and that’s the grace of Jesus Christ.
Tim Thornborough, author and editor for The Good Book Company, shares:
“You may not understand everything. You may even have doubts about whether God is really there. But if you respond to God’s offer of forgiveness through Christ, he promises to hear your prayer and answer it. Why not say the words of this prayer out loud, or in the quietness of your heart, to the Lord who knows you and loves you and is listening now?”
Thank you for Christmas time and for all the good things you have given to me.
Thank you for my friends and family and those who care for me.
Thank you for your great love in sending your Son, Jesus, to be born into the world.
I’m sorry that I have turned away from you and pushed you from your rightful place in my life.
Thank you that Jesus came and died so that I can be forgiven. Thank you that he rose again so that I can receive new life.
Help me to trust in Jesus and his death on the cross as the only way by which I can be right with you.
Please forgive me, and help me to grow and learn what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
Image courtesy: Unsplash.com
Publication date: December 12, 2016
Liz Kanoy is an editor for Crosswalk.com.