April 24, 2013
And (the devil) said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down, for it is written, 'He will command His angels concerning You,' and 'On their hands they will bear You up, lest You strike Your foot against a stone.' Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'" Matthew 4:6-7
Teenagers can be cool.
At their best they are idealistic and optimistic, eager, energetic and enthusiastic. Just as importantly, life hasn't yet taught them that the impossible can't be done. Oh, one other thing, they also generally believe they are going to live forever.
Now from a theological perspective that last one I listed, the one about living forever, is perfectly sound. Those who have a living faith in Jesus as their Savior will live forever. Forgiven of their sins, justified before their divine Judge, they have been adopted into the family of faith and will live forever with their Lord in heaven.
Yes, from that point of view the idea of living forever is a good thing. But it is a bad thing when a teen, or anyone, thinks they can defy temporal death indefinitely.
Nobody has that ability.
Case in point: Austin Price was a 15-year-old sophomore at San Lorenzo High School in California. A week or so ago Price was playing "chicken" with some friends near the train tracks that go by their school. The winner of the game was the person who could come closest to an oncoming train without being hit, hurt, crippled or killed.
Austin Price didn't win the game. When his friends moved out of the locomotive's way, he didn't. It was a brave, bold move on his part. It was also a decision that ended up with him being killed by a northbound Amtrak train. Let me ask, having heard Price's story are you thinking thank heaven I've grown out of such foolishness.
I hope so, but I'm not sure.
Yesterday Pam and I drove from Minnesota to Texas. During the course of that 900-plus-mile trip we saw some people weaving in and out of traffic, while others pulled out in front of fully loaded semi-trucks. We saw someone wend his way past the railroad closing guards, a few who blew through red lights, and others who tried to blast their way across eight lanes of traffic.
And although these people weren't teens, they were still driving like they thought they would never die. They were also tempting fate, other drivers, and God Himself, which -- according to Jesus' words and example -- is something we are not supposed to do.
Jesus came into this world so people might have life and have it abundantly (see John 10:10). Each day lived in Him is a precious gift and needs to be cherished. Each day's time is given to glorify Him and not "put the Lord Your God to the test" (see Deuteronomy 6:16).
This is just my way of saying, when you're driving or doing anything else, don't play chicken with death.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may I, in everything I do, give thanks for the time You have given to me. While death will someday come, do not let me hasten its arrival by doing that which is foolish and foolhardy. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries