“My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better. Your impact was incredible. I love you so much.” This is how John Travolta paid tribute to Olivia Newton-John, his co-star in the movie musical Grease, after she passed away this week.
Travolta was just one of many to honor the popular actress and singer in recent days. Newton-John won four Grammy Awards, recorded five number-one hits, produced two number-one albums, and sold more than one hundred million records. She was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 and suffered recurrences in 2013 and 2017. She fought the disease courageously and will long be remembered for her musical gifts and personal grace.
Because of her long illness, Newton-John was once asked, “Have you contemplated your death?” She replied, “We all know we are going to die . . . I think we spend our lives denying it.” She added, “It’s extremely personal. I find it hard to put into words. I feel we are all part of one thing. I have had experiences with spirits or spirit life and felt the spirit world and have heard things, that I believe there is something that happens.”
She further explained, “It’s almost like we are parts of the same computer and we go back to the main battery. I don’t have a definite definition of what it is. I think there is a great knowingness out there [and] we become part of it. I hope that the energies of the people you love will be there . . . I think all of the love will be there.” She added, “I’m sort of looking forward to that, not now, but when it happens.”
What happened to the fifteen-hour workweek?
Some opinions don’t change our lives in consequential ways.
For example, famed economist John Maynard Keynes predicted in 1930 that we would evolve to a fifteen-hour workweek by 2030. One of the first non-native Americans to visit the Grand Canyon claimed that it would be “forever unvisited and undisturbed.” And Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, declared in 2007, “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.”
But other opinions can be catastrophic in their consequences.
For example, Rev. Al Sharpton claimed recently that “the Bible is about choice” when it comes to abortion. He explained, “If you are a minister, as I am, you can preach to people to convert them; you do not make laws to compel them.” Of course, he is ignoring completely the clear biblical teaching that life begins at conception and the fact that from Scripture to today, laws exist to “compel” people to do what is right for their sake and the common good.
Jumping from a tenth-story window
Of all the subjects about which we can hold an opinion, our eternal destiny is obviously of the greatest eternal significance.
It is conventional wisdom today that wisdom is a matter of convention, that your opinions are as valid as my opinions and that what we believe to be true for us must be true for us. This is an accurate assessment on some levels, of course. Just because I appreciate classical music does not mean you must share my opinion. Matters of taste are just that.
But when we conflate our subjective opinion with objective reality, we step across what Francis Schaeffer called the “line of despair” into a world of chaos and nihilism. We deceive ourselves into believing that if we do not believe in God, he does not exist. If we do not believe in hell, we cannot go there. If we do not believe that the Bible is true, we can ignore its truths.
Theologian Julian V. L. Casserley illustrated this delusion by observing that a man who jumps from a tenth-story window does not break the law of gravity—he illustrates it.
Therefore, the best way to prepare for the afterlife is to trust not in personal opinion but in the Lord of eternity. It is to put our faith in the one who stepped from heaven onto earth and from eternity into time, who died and then rose from the dead, who ascended to heaven and now offers us the only pathway to joining him in paradise (John 3:18; 14:6).
Then, when we have trusted in our merciful Savior, it is eternally urgent that we share his love with everyone we can while they still have time to choose his grace.
One heartbeat from eternity
This week, we’ve identified persistence, discernment, and courageous compassion as essential traits for Christians who are making a transforming difference in their culture. Today, let’s add urgency to our list.
Jesus told his disciples, “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4). Our Lord encouraged us to “stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42).
You and I are one day closer to Jesus’ return than ever before in human history. Our Lord could come back to our planet today, or he could call you to his side in glory today.
Likewise, every person you meet is one heartbeat away from standing before the Lord. This is why praying for the lost people we know and sharing our faith with them is so urgent. We are not imposing our opinion on others but sharing God’s transforming love with them.
Evangelism comes with risks in our anti-Christian culture, but when we share the gospel with the people we know, any cost to us in this world is worth their eternal life in the next.
My cemetery prayer
My morning walk in our neighborhood is part of my daily routine. Along the way, I always pass a cemetery in our community with graves dating back to the Civil War. Each morning, I pause beside this cemetery and pray, “Help me be ready for you to come to us or for me to go to you.”
Will you join me in this prayer today?