Dead at 27

Mark Twain once said “Most men die at age 27. We just bury them at 72.”

That little quote that appeared on my twitter feed got lodged into my brain against my will. I’m 25. I’ll be 26 in a month. Time relentlessly keeps moving forward, like a seasoned mountaineer up the trail. There’s no stopping him. He doesn’t pull aside for snacks and water. He is stone-faced and determined.

It’s easy to see what Twain is getting at. Late teens and early twenties are fertile grounds for great ideas and big plans. Once one gets some real-world experience, however, swimming upstream isn’t so romantic as it used to be. A marriage forces him to get a job; kids force him to settle down. Bills force him to look at life differently. In most men, by 27, something very important has died, Twain says.

What has died? A vigor and passion for life. An enthusiasm to accomplish great things. A youthful, impetuous zeal. This doesn’t happen to everyone– but it does happen, as Twain says, to “most men.”

In Braveheart, William Wallace says, “Every man dies, not every man really lives.”

Jesus came to give men “life and life abundantly.” This is speaking not only of the eternal hereafter, but the here-and-now of knowing, by faith, the living, resurrected Son of God. By abiding in him through faith, we plug ourselves into the source of all energy, passion, fervor, joy, and love. Though we were once dead in our sins, we have been made alive with Christ. To be a Christian means to be spiritually alive, awake, and aware of all that God is doing in the universe. It means to be attached to Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. That is true life. It is the life that God offers through belief in his Son.

Spiritual sleepiness, complacency, or apathy are cross-opposing enemies of God– and the regenerate are not exempt from succumbing to these pitfalls. They are sinful lures that faithful disciples must wage war against. Christians are to be totally awake!

How Christians should fight against this kind of deadly sleepiness! The daily temptation to get on the sideline and become a spectator demobilizes thousands of could-be gospel bearers. It is much easier to waste your life than to spend it on something that will outlast you. You must fight to stay awake. You must struggle to stay alive. You must not turn 27, shift into maintenance mode, or auto-pilot, or cruise control– or whatever metaphor you want– and drift toward Judgment Day. Would you be great in this world? Our Lord taught us that the greatest of all is the servant of all. And the servant of all is the one who fights most persistently and violently against his sinful pride.

John Piper, author of the book Don’t Waste Your Life, once said, “Don’t waste your life is not a catchphrase for me; it’s a cliff I walk beside every day with trembling.”

Fight against every impulse within you that wants make peace with everything the way it is. Never settle. Keep growing. Do hard things. Don’t die at 27.

“I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same. . . . If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next”

C.S. Lewis