jasonbwatson

July 16, 2014

Reason for Living

It seems a fitting follow up to yesterday’s post to highlight the fact that those who do have the inheritance made possible by accepting Christ as Savior not only should have and exhibit an inexpressible joy, but have a reason for living that goes far beyond any temporal emotion, excitement or circumstance this life may have to offer. Just as it is difficult for me to imagine facing the trials and tribulations of life without a relationship with Jesus Christ it is difficult for me to imagine what might keep me going in life when those things around which I had based my happiness or hopes had failed me.

There was an excellent example of the futility of placing one’s hopes in worldly circumstances in the reaction of the fans of Brazil’s soccer team following the team’s loss to Germany in semifinal round of the World Cup (being held in Brazil). The story released by the AP, and posted on Yahoo among other places, provided this overview of the situation in the story’s second paragraph: “The national team wasn’t just defeated by a powerful German team. It was routed in front of the entire world, humiliated at its own party. Young and old, Brazilians shared in the anguish of what many called a national calamity — the worst loss in their team’s storied World Cup history.”

Yes, it was an incredibly lopsided loss for Brazil, who lost the game 7-1. Yes, it was no doubt frustrating and disheartening to lose and those emotions were surely compounded by the fact that Brazil was the host nation. But a “national calamity”? Perhaps there is a problem if a team’s loss in a soccer match rises to that level. Unfortunately, it gets worse.

A 67-year old retired teacher watching the match commented, “I’m feeling disappointed, sad, but more than anything I’m feeling embarrassed. It was embarrassing to watch.” I could probably understand and even relate to those emotions. That seems fairly reasonable. But fan Pablo Ramoz said, “you are going to have the most depressed country ever” after Brazil was defeated. Really? Ever? I suspect perhaps several European nations rolled over by Hitler’s blitzkrieg, Japan following the bombs following on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the United States following the attacks on 9/11 would be just three examples among many of countries that would have been more “depressed” than Brazil following a soccer loss.

It gets worse yet, though. The AP story also stated that Samir Kelvin “clung to a street pole and loudly cried: ‘I have nothing left! I am Brazilian and humiliated I want to kill myself!'”

For anyone to have nothing more to live for than the success of a national soccer team is a poignant–and incredibly sad– commentary on the ways in which we humans seek to find fulfillment and meaning in this world. Of course nothing can provide that fulfillment and meaning other than a relationship with Jesus Christ. That is why we can find ample evidence of the complete devastation of individuals who seemingly have everything man could want and yet still lack meaning and fulfillment and contentment in their lives.

Joy Elms penned the lyrics to a song that addresses the inability of anything other than Christ to provide meaning in life–and the incredible ability of Christ to provide that meaning. The first verse goes like this:

I’ve been blessed with so many things, God’s been good to me
I have family and friends who share in all I do
But if I lose it all and I am left with nothing
If I have the Lord I know I’ll make it through

Surely the loss of family and friends and “so many things” would be worse than the 7-1 defeat of the national soccer team, no? Yet Elms makes it clear that there is still reason to live despite those overwhelming losses. And what is that reason? Here is the chorus of her song…

He’s the only reason I live, but oh, what a reason
He’s the only reason I live, but oh, what a reason
There’s nothing in this world worth living for
It only leaves you empty and longing for more
Oh, He’s the only reason I live, but oh, what a reason

The second verse of the song goes like this…

Now you may have tried a lot of things to find real happiness
But if you’ve looked very long, then you know it can’t be found
Until you find the Lord, in the power of His Spirit
Jesus will be your reason to live and He’ll never let you down

Therein we see exactly what I am getting at here. Whether it is the success of a soccer team, the attainment of a position or title, the house, car, clothes, boat, income or whatever that one desires, celebrity status or anything else, none of it will bring “real happiness.” Jesus will never let us down. Soccer teams will lose, positions can be lost, houses can be destroyed, cars can crash, clothes can go out of style, boats can sink and celebrity status is incredibly temporary–but Jesus will “never let you down.”

Psalm 138:8 says, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.” Nothing about the Lord is temporal; He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). His love endures forever. And He will fulfill His purpose in the lives of those who accept Him and yield to Him. May that be our source of fulfillment, our reason for living…and nothing else.

October 26, 2012

Selling What’s Priceless

WARNING: This post contains content that may be offensive to some readers. Discretion is advised.

You may have seen the story on the news this week: A 20-year old woman from Brazil, sold her virginity via online auction. The final price: $780,000, to a buyer from Japan. The highest bidder beat out five others who bid above $600,000 for “chance to bed the virgin,” as the Toronto Sun put it.

There are all kinds of stipulations and particulars attached to the auction. For example, Migliorini must be examined by a gynecologist and provide the winner with medical proof of her virginity. The winning bidder must submit to a medical exam and criminal background check, and cannot be intoxicated at the time of the “meeting.” There is absolutely no kissing permitted. Migliorini and the winning bidder will agree to the length of their rendezvous, though the rules for the auction clearly stated that “the minimum consummation time is one hour.”

There was, by the way, a young man who also auctioned his virginity. His was sold to a buyer from Brazil for $3,000.

Now, Migliorini says she intends to use the proceeds to start an organization that will serve the poor in Santa Catarina where she was born. In fact, she has pledged that at least 90% of the money will be used for that purpose.

She also says of what she did that she does not think of it as prostitution. That is interesting, since the definition of prostitution, according to dictionary.com, is “the act or practice of engaging in sexual intercourse for money.” It would seem that what Migliorini has done is exactly prostitution.

From a purely ethical and philosophical standpoint this topic could generate a very interesting debate. After all, I can imagine passionate and vehement arguments being made on all sides of the question of when, if ever, it is acceptable to sell oneself or one’s virginity. The fact that Migliorini purports to have noble intentions for the money makes the question all the more ripe for debate. Of course, the concept of buying and selling sex is not a new one; prostitution has been called the oldest profession. Big-budget movies starring major Hollywood players have addressed the topic of a one-time sexual rendezvous for a huge sum of money (Indecent Proposal).

The problem is, ones virginity is, short of life itself, perhaps the most valuable thing anyone possesses. Doesn’t it cheapen it to sell it, to surrender one’s most intimate moment to a complete stranger…for money? I would say yes, of course it does. But I would also suggest that we live in a world that has created the environment for this to occur. After all, sex has been devalued through a constant cultural shift. First sex was no longer something to be reserved for marriage. Then it wasn’t even important that sex be reserved for two people who were going to get married. After all, the argument went (and still goes) it is important to experiment and try it out before making (what is supposed to be) a lifelong commitment. It was not long before we moved into a “hook up culture,” with media of all kinds glamorizing the lifestyle of sleeping around and engaging in sex with lots of people, even complete strangers. Within that context, how can we fault Migliorini for at least putting a price on what our world has argued so long we should not treat as so valuable? Put another way, it is quite fascinating to ponder how she could cheapen something that so many give away every day for “free” by selling it for three-quarters of a million dollars.

This is what happens when we treat carelessly what God has designed to be special and beautiful and priceless.

I believe it was that great philosopher Yogi Berra who said, “Be careful. If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up there.” When it comes to the “sexual revolution” that has been going on around the world, I don’t think Yogi could have been much closer to the truth: No one stopped to consider where we were going, and now, here we are.

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