“You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime.” ~ Marshall Bruce Mathers III
The philosopher Drake has this year popularised the life motto YOLO (You Only Live Once for those of you who are neither in the world nor of it). The most common way for people to live out this philosophy is to use it as an excuse to do whatever and to not care about the consequences as you only live once and you may as well have as much fun as you can. The phrase is commonly seen on garish T-shirts sold at tourist tack shops and worn by people who don’t posses mirrors.
And while the YOLO hashtag on twitter is new, the message is not. The Latin phrase Carpe Diem (Seize the day) essentially means the same thing. For the hipsters among you there is a Hebrew teaching “אם לא עכשיו-אימתי” (Pirkei Avoth 1:14) which translates as “If not now, then when?” This is a message that has been repeated throughout the ages – maximise the pleasure you can have and just focus on your own enjoyment. Or to sum it up in a word, hedonism. And many would say that we should reject YOLO as it is all about getting drunk and doing dumb stuff that may feel good in the moment but will leave you with a hangover and regrets in the morning. But I think instead we need to redeem YOLO. Because while we know that through faith in Christ we shall not perish but have eternal life, in earthly terms our time here won’t last forever. And we should be doing all we can to make an impact for the sake of the kingdom while we can. As John Piper says, “Don’t waste your life.”
Psalm 49 reminds us that even “Those who are wise must finally die…They will not last long despite their riches – they will die like the animals” Psalm 149:10, 12. Life is short. Time is precious. Don’t waste it. Embrace life. As Paul says in Ephesians 5:16 “Make the most of every opportunity for doing good”. It can be easy to waste your life on pointless things. Hours can get wasted on the latest video game as you fight the invading Nazi Zombies, saving your people armed with only a shotgun and limited ammo. But then you turn off the console and not much has changed. Millions are still starving, AIDS is still rampant and thousands of young girls are being raped for profit. The only thing that has changed is you have put on a few pounds. You only live once. You will not last a long time. Seize the day and grab every opportunity you have to do good, to advance the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
And so often we tend to put things off until later. I know I do. But Psalm 49 should be a reminder to us that we have a limited amount of time to work with. You only live once, and then you will die like the animals. And then your potential to be God’s hands and feet in the world is gone. God has a unique plan for you that only you can fulfil. A plan that involves loving those who are hungry, naked, thirsty, oppressed and abandoned, the least of all, the widows and orphans, the abused, the broken hearted. If not now, then when will you start loving them?
Over the summer I used the YOLO mentality to encourage one of my friends, Erin, to break out of her shell and do more crazy fun things like go stargazing on a hill late at night. There is nothing wrong with enjoying life. God created plenty of epically awesome things for us to enjoy during our time on earth and sometimes we can feel guilty about having pleasure in our life. But as long as it isn’t sinful pleasure if you are working hard you should take the occasional opportunity to embrace life by having epic adventures enjoying the world God made and honouring Him by fully appreciating it rather than just staying inside watching TV.
As CT Studd once said “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last”. You may only live once on earth, for a short period of time in the scale of eternity, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do things that will live on and leave a legacy for future generations. You only live once. Don’t miss your one shot. Use it for God’s glory. Embrace life. Use it for things that will last. Don’t waste it. Use it for Christ.
(Image source: http://www.sodahead.com/entertainment/is-the-yolo-slang-an-excuse-for-young-adults-to-do-stupid-things/question-2807719/?link=ibaf&q=&imgurl=http://images.sodahead.com/polls/002807719/353346693_yolo_answer_1_xlarge.jpeg)