Sooner or later we all face the inevitability of death. A 2007 comedy-drama movie titled “The Bucket List” told the story of two terminally ill men who set out from a cancer ward for adventures and experiences that they had wished for during their lifetime. They made a list of goals before they would euphemistically “kick the bucket,” and then set out to accomplish them.

So what is the point of having a bucket list? Reasonably, we each want to live purposeful lives, filled with adventure and joy. A bucket list sets forth goals, instilling within us the idea that with each item marked off the list, we’re doing something fulfilling—something unique and worthwhile in our lives. It motivates us to accomplish tasks that push us to have meaning in our lifetime even as we face and hopefully overcome challenges.

Hitting a home run.

In my youth, I was not very athletic. Hitting a home run would have been an early  bucket list item for me, but realistically, in Little League baseball, I was just thrilled to have gotten a hit at all. 
As I got older and regularly worked out in the gym, I was able to do more physically. Fast forward to my retirement years when I had more free time, I decided to join a senior men’s church softball team. At my first time at bat after not playing for many years, I again was simply hoping for a hit of any sort. Yet with 2 strikes against me, I drove the ball deep into the left center field fence resulting in an inside the ballpark home run! Even though I pulled my hamstring running the bases I thought, “Wow, that was amazing!” and was able to proudly check it off my early bucket list.

And yet, as exciting as that was, it didn’t radically change my life. All in all, it was a pretty meaningless accomplishment in the grand scheme of things — just like a number of other common bucket list items, such as traveling, acquiring possessions, meeting famous people, climbing mountains or skydiving. These things on their own, as exciting as they are in the moment, don’t hold much value in light of eternity.

So, what really matters?

Ecclesiastes addresses the meaninglessness of so many human endeavors. Ultimately, it comes down to our priorities. All too often, we live as if this life is all there is—when really, it is merely the prelude for all of eternity. So when we place a higher significance on ultimately meaningless experiences, we are missing out on the greatest, most meaningful and thrilling bucket list item — knowing and serving Jesus.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” - Ecclesiastes 3:11.

Earthly life is but a blink of time in the grand scope of eternity. Yet, it means everything. Our choice to follow Christ — or not to follow Christ — determines where we will spend that eternity. Therefore, we need to measure our goals for our life against God's purposes for us; we need to have a spiritual perspective on our bucket list.

A believer’s bucket list.

As much as the limited Western scope portrays happiness as a college degree, a house with a white picket fence and a comfortable retirement with an abundance of golf — none of this matters in the next life. What matters is a relationship with Jesus, pointing people to Christ, and community with others. Let these be at the top of our bucket lists:

Jesus first.

If we are going to spend eternity in heaven, we must accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior (John 3:16), knowing Him and being compelled to repentance from our sins. In doing so, developing a relationship with Him is the key. We come to know the heart of Christ in the quiet place of reading the Bible, in prayer and in worship.

Out of this intentional time spent in the presence of God flows our ability to know His voice and discern His will. This is how we become sanctified, leading us to ultimately consider Jesus in all our decisions, moment by moment.

Sharing Christ with others.

The Bible compels us to “go and make disciples” among the nations (Matthew 28:18-20). This begins at home, loving our families, neighbors, coworkers, everyday strangers and even those most difficult to love — just as Jesus would. This love goes beyond mere politeness. In fact, it goes beyond kindness, too. It involves intentional relationship-building, vulnerability in sharing our own stories and providing others with the things they need in light of this eternal perspective.

These necessities might be tangible items like food, clothing or funds. It might be the gift of a Bible or sharing the Gospel in bold evangelism. It could look like the gift of our time, attention, a listening ear or helping hand. Maybe it involves accountability, calling someone higher in truth and love — or encouraging another when they feel utterly downtrodden. In meeting these practical needs, we point others to Christ.

Finding community and seeking discipleship.

The book of Acts shows us what a loving community in Christ looks like – the true Church. Finding a community of encouraging and truth-filled individuals is a crucial bucket list item. While there is no perfect ministry or church, finding an authentic Bible-based Christian home of brothers and sisters is invaluable in that it offers us unique support and accountability through the inevitable ups and downs of life.

As we seek community prayerfully, we are drawn to be mentored by others, shaped by the Word of God through their wisdom. This ongoing piece of our earthly spiritual journey can be difficult and stretching at times — yet, incomparably worth it. It furthers our mission and purpose, calling us higher, that we might serve as examples of Godly freedom and redemption for other people.

Reexamining our bucket lists.

So, we must ask ourselves, what does our bucket list say about our priorities? Every element of this life boils down to one crucial thing that affects our salvation and that of everyone for all eternity: Jesus. Knowing this, what do we really need to check off our bucket list before life is over?

When we see Jesus at the gates of heaven, that home run or hole-in-one on the golf course will mean nothing to us. Rather, how we lived and who we loved will mean everything. Our choice to accept Christ and devote our lives to God is all that will matter. The welcoming embrace of Jesus will be the best thing we have ever experienced. And that one person—or 999 people—that decided to follow Christ because of our influence will mean more than all the riches or trivial accomplishments on this earth.

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