You may want to stand up to read this Cultural Commentary. It turns out people who spend most of their day sitting have an increased risk for certain kinds of malignancies, particularly colon and endometrial cancers. In fact, those who spend the most hours watching TV have a 54 percent increased risk of colon cancer. Regular exercise apparently does not offset the risks of too much sitting.
Tony Gwynn was anything but sedentary. This Hall of Fame baseball player was one of the best hitters and most gracious athletes of his generation. He died last week at the age of 54, a victim of oral cancer. More than 40,000 people are diagnosed with this disease each year; only a little more than half will be alive in five years. Gwynn blamed chewing tobacco for his disease. After his untimely death, many are calling for a complete ban of tobacco in baseball.
Now consider an apparently unrelated story: a woman in Erie, Pennsylvania tried to rescue a cat from a tree, but needed to be rescued instead. Tara Dennis saw the cat crying in the tree, so she scaled a fence, got on a roof and climbed onto a branch. She reached the animal, which she put inside her shirt. But climbing back down, she got stuck. A neighbor called 911, and firefighters rescued both the woman and the cat.
These news stories tell us that mortality finds us all, and we can’t save ourselves. We think we’re safe sitting at our desk or in front of the television. World-class athletes would seem to be less prone to an early death. A woman rescuing a cat wouldn’t expect to need her own rescue. But truth is not only stranger than fiction, as Mark Twain noted—it’s more dangerous as well.
You and I have no time to waste. As the Bible says, “now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). If you’re not sure you have asked Jesus to forgive your mistakes and become your Savior and Lord, it’s not safe for you to go another day without trusting in him. Some day will be my last day; some day will be yours; neither of us is promised tomorrow. We’re both one day closer to eternity than ever before.
If you’ve settled your salvation, what about your significance? I spent the weekend in New York City, where I met with a group of Christians who are committed to advancing the Kingdom in one of the world’s greatest cities. One of the churches in this movement began in Brooklyn in 1978; today the Christian Cultural Center’s membership exceeds 37,000. Its pastor, Dr. A. R. Bernard, believes that God has a summons for every Christian to serve the divine purposes in every condition, work, or relationship in life. Another church in this movement, Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church, says that it seeks not to build a great church but to build a great city.
What are you doing to build a great city where you live? To serve the divine purposes in every condition, work, and relationship of your life? I can’t say this is your last week to fulfill God’s significance for you. But I can’t say that it’s not.