Even though we may think of ourselves as Christians, or of our Christian personality as dominant, it is easy for us to slip into the more comfortable, less demanding, Olympian ways of our dominant society and culture. One way we do this is by taking for granted the days we have yet to live. It is easy to think we have countless days before us still. When we do that, however, we grow indifferent to Jesus, one another, and creation. Moses, the author of Psalm 90, had a better idea:
or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
Teach us to number our days,
If we live to be 70 years old, we will have lived for more than 25,000 days. No matter how old we are now, none of us can say how many days we have yet to live. In his psalm, Moses points out that they too will all pass quickly enough. Gone!
Moses then reminds us of God’s anger. We need to remember that God’s anger is always an expression of his love. God’s anger is always his rejection of our rejection of him. It is always his rejection of our destructive Olympian personality and way of living. There is no limit to God’s rejection of our Olympian ways.
Limitless too is the fear we should have toward God. The meaning of fear, like that of anger, love, freedom, or any other word, is context-dependent. It too has an Olympian as well as a Christian definition. Olympian fear means being scared of getting hurt. That’s just the sort of fear that the Olympian gods and their human minions try to instill in us. They want us to be obedient out of fear that they will hurt us if we are not.
In stark contrast, Christian fear means being concerned that we will fall short of sharing all the truth, love, and life that Jesus frees us to share each day. It means taking Jesus much more seriously than we take the six false yet conventional Olympian gods.
Christian wisdom, then, is learning how to number our days. It is understanding that each day is a precious gift. Each day, this day, today, may be our last remaining chance to speak truth, share love, or strengthen vitality with others. We witness to this wisdom when we commit ourselves to making each day as densely meaningful as possible in just these ways.
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