In every generation, men strive for greatness. Every generation wants to be known forever, to have eternal impact. From King Ozymandias, to Hitler, to Mohammed Ali, men have wanted to be immortalized as (and use your best Ali voice here, or at least, Billy Crystal DOING Mohammed Ali) “the Greatest… of ALL TIME!” Athletic contests are said to be “making history”, and athletes are called “legends”. (I suppose because their feats would live on forever in fame and glory: Quick, who was the greatest athlete in 1958?)
Sports fans love to argue endlessly about the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), whether it’s Ali vs Tyson, Jordan vs LeBron (or some say Kobe, but nah!), or Nicklaus vs Tiger. Some might even argue about who challenges Tom Brady, but I really don’t see anybody close enough to challenge his career accomplishments at this time.
(If you’re not sure who Ozymandias is, he was a cruel king who proclaimed his own might and built his own monument. His inscription, ironically, showed just how vain his self-proclaimed glory was. So, here you go, the poem written by Percy Bysshe Shelley:)
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
If you need a reminder about Mohammed Ali, he was a great heavyweight boxer in the 1960’s who made up poetry and made headlines by being a conscientious objector to the war in Viet Nam after becoming a Muslim. He, too proclaimed his own glory, and claimed to be the greatest “of ALL TIME”. (Where the acronym for GOAT cam from, I guess…)
The Bible says having eternal impact is possible, just not in the way Ali thought. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35, NIV). “For you have been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever “. (1 Peter 1:23, NKJV) “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17, NIV).
Making Eternal Impact
If you want to have eternal impact, consider this: You only touch only two things in this world that are immortal, two things that will outlast heaven and earth. These are two things that you will encounter not only here on earth but also in eternity itself… One of them is the Word of God. It will not pass away even though the world will fall. (And hey, it’s still here after 2000 years, so it’s doing pretty well so far…) This makes sense in a way because the written word is an expression of the Living Word, who is the second person of the Trinity.
Eternity will involve being intimate with the Word of God, of knowing Him just as he knows us. Everlasting life will not be the end, but a means to another end, and the Word of God, which abides forever, will be a living, dynamic part of our eternal journey. Think about it this way: “Home” is wonderful not because of the floor plan or the bricks or mortar, but because of the words we receive there, words of love and affirmation. We love going Home because of the relationships there.
Heaven won’t be amazing because it has streets of gold, but because we will be welcomed there as family who have been adopted by the Word of God. We will have an eternity in our new home to get to know Him and to grow in his wisdom and love.
The second eternal thing we will experience long after we leave this world is all around you, and something we all encounter every day. It’s people. It is the souls of men, which are all destined for eternal life one way or another.
C. S. Lewis said, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” Think about that: Everyone you know will live forever. What friendships and conversations will we carry forward? We think of our earthly legacy, but I believe we are also here creating a legacy that will go with us when we transition into eternity.
Peter says that everyone born again will be incorruptible, and John says that whoever does the will of God lives forever. The relationships that begin here in a corruptible world will outlast it, carried by the will of God into the endless eons of eternity. So think about that. Every day you have the opportunity to invest in short-term, temporary things, or you can invest in eternal things. Charles Thomas Studd, an exceptional cricketer and missionary in the 19th century said “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.” I put it like this:
Eternal Difference Makers
Living in a world that’s messed,
Men will strut and pound their chest
And strive to be the very best.
To be the greatest, pass this test;
“On earth, two things outlast the rest:
Friends and the Word. Invest. Invest!”
Eternal investment, eternally blessed.
To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-