The Pentagon has announced that an American rocket shot down a mock warhead over the Pacific yesterday. It was the first such test to target an intercontinental missile like North Korea is developing. The test came the same day North Korea claimed that it had successfully launched a precision-guided ballistic missile. Analysts believe the missile is being prepared to attack American aircraft carriers.
Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration is alleging that United Airlines operated a plane that was “not in airworthy condition” during twenty-three international and domestic flights. It proposes a $435,000 civil penalty against the airline.
You likely won’t die from a North Korean missile or an unsafe airplane today. But tomorrow is promised to no one.
A truck bombing near the Afghan presidential palace killed at least eighty people this morning. A young woman who survived last year’s Orlando nightclub massacre died in a highway car crash last Sunday. A four-year-old girl fell into a Utah river on Memorial Day and drowned. Her mother and a bystander who jumped into the river to save the girl also drowned.
We are all one day closer to eternity than ever before. That’s why “now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
This Time headline caught my eye: “Extreme Ways Man Has Tried to Cheat Death.” Among them: Cleopatra supposedly bathed in donkey’s milk. Romans drank blood from gladiators. An alchemist claimed that medicine from a monkey’s brain would lengthen life up to five hundred years. A future Nobel laureate promoted drinking sour milk. A doctor tried to rejuvenate the elderly by performing blood transfusions from young donors.
Medical science is more advanced than ever before, but it’s still true: the only safe way to face tomorrow is to be ready to meet God today.
Consider Panama’s Gen. Manuel Noriega, who died Monday at the age of eighty-three. His 1990 conversion to Christianity while in prison made headlines. Yesterday, The Washington Post ran an article on his faith. Despite its skeptical tone, it reported Noriega’s testimony: “I received Jesus Christ as my Saviour the 15th May of 1990 at 11 a.m.”
Noriega later told my friend Luis Palau, “I’ve found a new commander in chief: Jesus Christ.” He pointed to the Bible in his prison cell and said, “There’s the book that tells me what his will is for my life. It has changed me.”
For a species that is so afraid of death, you’d think more of us would be more inclined to follow Noriega’s example. But our culture suffers from opposing deceptions: we’re so self-righteous that we don’t think we need Jesus to save us, or we’re so guilt-ridden that we don’t think he can.
In Break Open the Sky: Saving our Faith from a Culture of Fear, Stephan Bauman writes: “Accepting that we are loved for no other reason than the God of the universe loves us—it’s in his very being and nature to do so—is the hardest thing you and I will ever do. Grace is nonreciprocal.”
However uncertain tomorrow seems, this fact is still true today: you cannot make Jesus love you any more than he does right now. Or any less.