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  • Writer's pictureHWalker79

Place your bets…

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

If your house were on fire and you were fast asleep, wouldn’t you wish that you could awake just in time to escape?

There was once a young man[1] who had so much stuff that he couldn’t fit it in his house. He decided to build a bigger one and got all excited preparing the plans, choosing paint for the walls, and supervising the building team. He moved in to his new, improved home; ready to enjoy it for years to come. He began booking the holiday of a lifetime – something to look forward to now that the house excitement had died down. He went to bed that evening, suffered a cardiac arrest and died. His life was demanded back from him[2].

In a Vietnamese village, government tanks rounded up the guilty adults and forced them to stand in a line opposite their children[3]. If the adults agreed to stop their unlawful actions, then the government would spare their kids from being steamrollered to death by the tanks. The weeping parents refused to the demands, and watched traumatised, as their kids were brutally murdered. The guilty adults knew what would happen next - the steamroller now turned its direction towards them. Their crime was worshipping Jesus in a communist state.

I know your deeds, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were either one or the other! Because you are lukewarm, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”[4] Which are you? The Vietnamese martyr (fiery-hot); the oppressive communist government (ice-cold); or the indifferent individual building an empire (lukewarm, meh!)? According to Jesus’ words, those of us in the apathetic category have more to fear than cruel persecutors.

There’s a reason Apple didn’t brand their products ‘ourPad’, ‘ourPod’ and ‘ourPhone’. We don’t want to miss out on anything good. We want it to go well for our kids. We want good careers; extensive travel experiences; fine cuisine; healthy pensions; constant entertainment; and stimulating pleasures. But what if we miss out on something greater because we didn’t have the time/couldn’t be bothered to look into anything deeper? We’re busy, don’t you know?! We’ve got more interesting things to do.

Are you a betting person?[5] This life could be all there is. In that case, strike while the iron is hot: live for yourself; pursue your dreams; and end this life satisfied with all you experienced and achieved. But what if you’re wrong? What if you’ve bet on the wrong horse? If you bet on this lifetime only, then all you gain is possibly 80 years of fun, joy, pleasures and experiences (but don’t forget about the tough times too). Sounds a good deal, right? If it turns out you were right – there is only annihilation ahead – you’ll die and never have the pleasure of knowing you were right all along, because you’d no longer exist to be aware of it.

But if you’ve bet on the wrong conclusion – if there actually is more on offer when you leave this life behind, then you may have wasted your chance of attaining it. But even worse, this time you will know it. You’ll be there to view the new, greater reality; aware and wide awake to process the totality of what you’ve lost. Which option has the higher stakes if correct? Which path has the higher stakes if untrue? Where will you place your chips?

Is it at least worth taking the time to explore both sides of the argument to make sure you don’t miss out on something good? The house may be on fire but it isn’t too late to awake from your slumber. But don’t delay – you don’t know when “your life will be demanded from you[6].

References [1] A modern retelling of Luke 12:16-21 [2] Luke 12:20 [3] ‘Foxe’s Book of Martyrs: 2000 years of Martyrdom’ by John Foxe [4] Revelation 3:15 [5] Pascal's wager | philosophy and religion | Britannica [6] Luke 12:20

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