Keeping the World From Changing You
It might be interesting to consider when we’re going to die, but isn’t it more important to care how we’re going to live?
I just learned when I’m going to die.
According to Internet “death calculators,” I only have somewhere between six and 29 years left, depending on which version I checked.
If these were doctors, I would be getting more opinions! Perhaps you’ve not heard of these types of websites, known variously as death clocks, lifespan calculators, death meters, etc. You answer a few extremely general questions, such as your age, sex, weight, alcohol and smoking habits, outlook on life and where you live and, voilà! The website instantly churns out its prediction of the exact date on which you will expire!
One site even told me exactly how many seconds I have left—well over 916 million!
Other than getting a few chuckles at the absurdity of the wide range, it was a worthless exercise. (Although, I have to admit, its inspiration for this column lead was helpful!) But it did get me thinking. The way these death calculators work is obviously a gimmick, but what if we had something of real value, some type of gauge that could analyze in detail how well we—both individuals and our world as a whole—are living? One that focused not only on physical health, but on other important quality-of-life issues, such as our emotional, mental and spiritual well-being?
Ranking lifestyle factors
Hmm. What questions could tell us that?
Why not start with this list of lifestyle factors already posted by an author who identified them as among the most “perilous” or “stressful” characteristics for any person or society?
How would you rank our culture today on the following?
- Self-love versus love of others.
- Love of money (covetousness).
- Self-aggrandizement, egotism.
- Arrogance, conceit.
- Treating others with contempt.
- Rebellious, particularly to parents.
- Lacking self-control.
- Despising, ridiculing those who try to do good.
- Loyalty versus willingness to betray.
- Stubborn, self-willed.
- Loving pleasures more than loving God.
- Hypocrisy (especially making a show of being religious, but not living it).
Where do you start with improving your life?
So where did this list come from, and to whom does it apply and when? Actually, it’s from the Bible, it was applied to the entire world, and these are noted as traits that will increasingly identify society in what is called “the last days” before Jesus Christ’s return.
How well would you say we are doing in these areas? Are we living better, or worse, than we were, for example, 20 years ago? Where are we trending?
Several articles in this issue of Discern address problems that you could reasonably argue have sprung from those 19 traits listed above, but in a type of destructive cycle, have in turn contributed to the increase of those same traits.
These articles address the impact of anxiety, moral relativism and FOMO. (Not sure what FOMO is? Check it out in the article “A Christian’s Guide to Fighting FOMO.”) These are just three of the many societal “health issues” that are not only diminishing our quality of life but speeding up our death clock.
Is that too strong, too dramatic, of a way to describe it? Well, Jesus Himself warned that in the last days so many damaging lifestyle factors would stir together that “unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved [alive].” So when you combine His words with the apostle Paul’s list of those 19 characteristics in 2 Timothy 3, shouldn’t we pay very careful attention?
Are you thinking about how to live better in the coming year? This list in 2 Timothy is a great starting place to calculate how we can improve our living.
Caring less about when we’re going to die and more about how we’re going to live may not change the world—but it can keep the world from changing us.