Here Lies John Doe

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Julie and I were recently looking at burial plots. It’s a decision we have to make at some point, so we began checking out local options. In the process, we read a number of headstones. Frankly, it’s quite intriguing to see what some people leave as their final words. I bet you can imagine.

In the days following that, I found myself thinking more about epitaphs, and was reminded of one none of us want. Admittedly, it’s fictitious, but the point is well made.

“Here lies John Doe, who died at 85, but stopped living at 43.”

Sad, isn’t it?

How does one stop “living” yet not die? It happens when Christ is no longer our deepest reason for every breath and every day. Allow me a minute to explain.

Paul was contemplating both life and death in Philippians 1, and he concluded that “to live is Christ” (Phil 1:21). In other words, as long as he was here on this earth, he would live each day with God’s purposes in mind, especially gospel depth in the Philippian believers and gospel declaration among those yet to hear of Christ. Check out the context —you’ll see clearly that Paul’s deepest reason for living centered around Christ and others, not himself.    

We stop truly living when we stop aiming for the bull’s eye of true significance and meaning: a life surrendered to Christ and his agenda. Oh, we may be upright physically with a beating heart and working organs, but the state of our soul is DOA. That’s an existence centered on selfishly coasting, and to put it bluntly, coasting kills. Hard as it is to hear, when we set our lives on cruise control with the destination being the city of Me, well, we may still be breathing, but we’ve stopped living.

Decide to truly start living today. Set your mind on the things of Christ (Col. 3), and make his agenda yours. See the spiritual needs of those around you both outside and inside his church, then live to see the gospel of Jesus Christ gain deeper traction among both. That’s real living that leaves no one wondering want to write as your epitaph.

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