In 2007 Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman brought us The Bucket List, a movie about facing death and accomplishing your life’s goals. The basic premise of the movie is that two men facing certain and imminent death, decide they have not yet lived life to the fullest and make a list of things they wish to do before they kick the bucket (so to speak).
In the past ten years since that movie taught us that it must be really, really important to make a list of things we’d like to accomplish before we die and then cross each item off that list, family members, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and strangers off the street, have all shared their Bucket Lists with me.
In all that time, I have never once shared my Bucket List with those that have shared theirs with me, or anyone else for that matter. It would be pretty difficult for me to do so since I do not have a Bucket List, nor will I ever have a Bucket List.
You may ask: Don’t I have goals and aspirations? And the answer would be “Of course I do.” But the concept of creating some fanciful list that I’m going to complete before I die is the kind of thinking that has completely warped our world views for the past several decades. Where is the focus, and what is the object of me creating a Bucket List and then attempting to mark off each item? Is it not Me? And if you have a Bucket List, is it not You?
Let’s consider the concept of a Bucket List from each of the three base world views:
If you are Agnostic in your world view, why in the world would you care about completing anything specific before you die? After all, life is Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will be, Will be) for the agnostic world view. The idea that there is any meaning whatsoever in accomplishing a certain number of pre-defined tasks before one dies makes absolutely no sense from an agnostic world view point, other than to simply please oneself.
If you are Atheistic in your world view, I might almost argue that the concept of a Bucket List is some feeble attempt on your part to find purpose and meaning within creation. It probably makes you believe you will have accomplished something, completed a set of goals, you may even believe it will provide you with a sense of satisfaction. To know that you have managed to complete those things that you have desired within your lifetime is fulfilling and thus assigns purpose and meaning to your existence here on Earth. But once again, the atheist fulfilling their Bucket List does nothing for the rest of us. It is for them, and them alone. Oh sure, we may be happy for someone marking one of their life’s goals off the list. We will rejoice with them at their point of triumph. But in the end, we go our separate ways, time passes, and goals, triumphs, victories, are lost and forgotten. And I would still ask: Did you, personally, completing some task before you die, really and truly answer the question of life, its purpose and its meaning? If so, would you mind sharing it with the rest of us? Because I think we’d all be quite curious about that. The true atheist has actually come to grips with the fact that (in their world view) there is no purpose or meaning to it all. Its just the laws of nature playing out over time and even their Bucket List was prescribed within the physical laws at the moment of the Big Bang (and the one before that, and the one before that, …).
However, if you are Theistic in your world view, there is a creator (or creator(s) depending on your specific Theology) and there is hope of life beyond death. It is with the Theistic world view and the concept of a Bucket List that I am most intrigued. Why in the world would we, who have hope of eternal life, ever need to complete some self gratifying list of tasks before we die? Would we, no, will we not, have all of eternity to complete the most wonderful adventures that an eternity could possibly offer?
Some might be asking right now what is wrong with having a set of life goals and with wanting to complete them in this lifetime, before one dies? And the answer is absolutely nothing. However, for the Christian I would ask, “Who are you completing them for?”
For you see, not once in the last ten years, have I ever had someone share their Bucket List with me and have any of the items on it be “Honor God above all else”. “Follow after Jesus Christ with all my heart, and all my soul, and all my might.” “Learn to know my Creator more than I know myself.” “Lift up Jesus Christ and give Him all Honor and all Glory and all Praise.” These have not even been items on the list, let alone the very FIRST item on the list.
You might be arguing right now that those things are already foremost in your life. They wouldn’t be things that you would put on a Bucket List.
I’d like you to consider something if you are one of the ones making that argument. If He, The Great I Am, is foremost in your life, why do you even need a Bucket List? Does it bring Him Honor and Glory? Did He direct it in your life? How does you pursuing some arguably arbitrary goals put Him first in your life? And if He really is foremost in your life, why do even need a Bucket List in the first place? Shouldn’t taking up your cross and following in the footsteps of Christ be all that you need? Isn’t keeping our eyes on Christ about all we, as humans, can hope to accomplish?
Perhaps if we were all to spend our time seeking after Him, instead of our own life goals, we would all find a few more of our life’s dreams and aspirations fulfilled. Perhaps we should all consider making it more about Him and a little less about ourselves.