Life Is Short: Play Hard

A full-page ad shows a young man leaping high into the air on a Schwinn bike. The ad copy promises that "One ride will coat you in… goosebumps." Then suddenly the ad shifts to the macabre. At the bottom of the page, a picture shows a coffin being lowered into a grave. The ad copy taunts the reader: "What, a little death frightens you?" Clearly, Schwinn is marketing more than bicycles. It’s teaching kids that it’s cool to court death. The Unionbay company promotes the same death-defying message. In a TV commercial, two teenagers wearing Unionbay fashions play chicken by racing their cars toward the top of a cliff. One driver catches his Unionbay sleeve on his gearshift and sails over the edge. As his clothing floats to the surface of the water, the tag line appears on the screen: "Unionbay. Fashion that’s made to last." This attitude of flouting death is a sign of the moral and spiritual nihilism of our times. Death is the end of life, we are told, and there’s nothing after that. We live in a closed system of natural cause and effect. There is no supernatural, we have no souls. Instead, our emotions and aspirations are merely chemical reactions, set off by physical experiences. In a world where everything is just matter, physical thrills like playing chicken on a cliff are the closest we’ll ever get to a spiritual experience. The problem is, when the game of chicken is over, the thrill-seeker is still trapped in a world with no true spiritual dimension. The experience is a counterfeit for real purpose and meaning. But as Christians we know that our lives do have meaning and purpose. It’s in our relationship with our Savior. Christ doesn’t give us a thrill in the sense of a rush of danger and excitement. Instead, he gives us the real thing, which may not be as flashy but does something even more awesome: He transforms human character from the inside out. It was Christ who gave the early Christians the strength to stand up to emperors and wild beasts. It was Christ who led medieval Christians to rebuild Europe when it had fallen to the barbarians. He inspired missionaries to bring literacy and medicine through dark jungles across the globe. Today, Christ gives his followers the courage to invade the dark corridors of prisons to ransom the broken lives of prostitutes and drug addicts. Now, that’s real meaning, real excitement. You and I have to teach our teens to be wary of ads that promise fulfillment through danger. We must help them understand that there’s more to life than simply thrill-seeking our way into an early grave—and that death-defying feats are a poor substitute for a relationship with the living God.


Chuck Colson



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