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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, April 25, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | 1 Corinthians 15:19–26

If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (NRSV)

“The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

It brings to mind Bruce Lee. In 1972, he began filming The Game of Death. In this film, Lee’s character must fight his way up the inside of a pagoda to free his kidnapped brother and sister. On each floor, he has to fight a different martial arts master. The last one is Kareem Abdul Jabbar, who towers over Lee and fights with a similar style (he trained with Lee for four years previously). A fearsome last enemy by any measure, but after battling up through every other master on the floors below, well, even more so.

You see this structure in every video game, level after level of struggle, followed by the final battle against The Boss, that final beast to slay before you level up. Meeting the most powerful opponent when you’re already depleted is never an encouraging prospect.

And we are all in this game. Life is a struggle for everyone, some more than others. We play our hand as it’s dealt. We roll the dice. Sometimes we make the right move, sometimes the wrong one. Some days you’re the windshield, some days you’re the bug. You fight through as best you can, and at the end there’s the most fearful enemy of all. No one avoids him. The Boss level. Even Bruce Lee died, before finishing The Game of Death.

But what if you fought your way through all the other trials, all the other battles, and then got to The Boss level, all bleeding and bruised and broken, and found out that someone had taken The Boss out for you, that all you had to do was walk through the room to level up? If you hadn’t had to struggle through, it would feel anticlimactic. But now you can carry your bruises and know that you stayed the course, you ran the race, and you’ve earned your “Well done.”

Lord, let us draw strength from the knowledge that the final enemy has already been destroyed. Let that knowledge nerve us to take on the battles we find on our way. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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