Kobe, Legacy, and Making It Count

Heartfelt, raw, emotional, inspiring, and human. On Monday, February 24th, the Staples Center in LA was sold out for Kobe Bryant. Now, that was not the first time it had been sold out for Kobe Bryant, but it will be the last. People from all over the country and likely the world arrived to celebrate the life of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gigi. From Vanessa, his wife, to Micheal Jordan to Jimmy Kimmel there were stories shared, tears shed, and lives touched. No doubt Kobe Bryant has had an incredible impact on people. He was an inspiration in many ways. His drive and determination were almost unparalleled in the sports world. Known as the Black Mamba, nobody wanted to play against him and nobody would out-compete him. He lived his life with a passion to inspire others, whether on the basketball court or off the court with his daughters and the next generation of female athletes.

When Kobe Bryant and Gigi died in that memorable helicopter crash, I was leading a Bible study at my house with some fraternity guys. It was shocking. Kobe Bryant can't be dead. No way! This must be fake news. Everything seemed to stand still for a few minutes until more and more reports confirmed the sad reality that the Laker legend, his daughter, and several others were gone. Just like that, one moment on the way to a basketball practice and the next moment stepping into eternity. It was real, and it was sobering. As I have reflected on his life and the impact that it has had on others, myself included, it has really forced me to think about my own life in some challenging ways. Perhaps the most significant way I have been impacted has been centered on the idea of legacy and making the one life that I have count for eternity. The question that Kobe's life and death raises is not "Can a life lived with passion inspire and impact others?" The question that Kobe's life and death raises is, "What should I live for in life that will count for eternity?"

John Piper once said, "You don't have to know a lot of things for your life to make a lasting difference in the world. But you do have to know the few great things that matter, perhaps just one, and then be willing to live for them and die for them." So what are those few great things that matter? And how can you begin centering your life around them? Honestly, I really beg you as a college student to consider simplifying your life and learning from the example of Kobe Bryant, at least in the focus of his passion, even if it was misdirected, and listening to the words of John Piper. Center your life on the things that really matter, the things that will count for eternity, the things that will outlive your life. Do you want to make a difference in this world? That is what it takes. So what are those things and how do we do that?

Live for Christ and His Kingdom

I love bottom line statements. Cut out the fluff and the details, just give me the main thing I need to know. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus summarizes all of life beautifully and most of all, simply. He says, "Seek first my kingdom and my righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well." What is the context here? What are the "these things" Jesus is referring to in this passage? They are basic necessities in life. Food and Clothes. The emotion that Jesus addresses is worry and anxiety. I cannot think of an emotion that our world needs Jesus to speak into more clearly and powerfully. Almost every college student I interact with is anxious. They are anxious about grades, relationships, pleasing their parents, pleasing their friends, keeping their social media game fresh, getting an internship that will set them up for success, landing a job that will get them an early retirement and financial security... the list could go on and on. Jesus would tell us, like he told those Jewish listeners in Matthew 6:25-31, "Stop it."

But he doesn't just tell us what to stop and what to cut out, He tells us what to do and put on instead. He tells us to put on faith. He tells us in v.32 to remember that God, who is a good Father, loves us, sees us, and knows what we need. He tells us to remember and believe in the good heart of God towards His children. If you are in Christ, the God that sustains the very universe right now without lifting a finger loves you, cares for you, sees you and knows you. He has got you, and He will take care of you. If we are going to live a life that counts we've got to remember this and believe this. Then, Jesus tells us what to do. He tells us in v.33 to live for Him and His Kingdom. I just imagine Jesus speaking into our world today and saying, "stop living for such small things like how many likes you get from a post, or how financially stable you are when you die! God knows you need approval and security, and he will give you true approval and eternal security. Live for the things that really matter, the things that have been before you and the things that will remain after you, namely Me and my Kingdom." So, how do we do that?

Know Christ Deeply

Knowing Christ personally and deeply is the most important and the most lasting thing we can do with our lives. It will be what we do in Heaven for all of eternity. Sure we may work, sing, play and do other things in Heaven but most of all, we will enjoy Jesus more and more in everything and through everything that we do. In Philippians 1:21, Paul says, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." In other words, my life is all about knowing Jesus, and death is gain because I will know him perfectly, fully, and eternally. In Mark 10:42, Jesus tells Martha and us, "there is one thing that is necessary, one thing that is the good portion that will not be taken away." What is that thing? Sitting at Jesus' feet, falling in love with Him, cultivating deep and lasting intimacy with the Savior. If we want to make our lives count for eternity, we have to build them around the Eternal One. While you are in college, take advantage of all the time that you have right now to develop a deep, intimate relationship with Christ. You have more time now than you will ever have again.

Share Christ Passionately

The second most important thing we can do with our lives and energy is share Christ with the lost world around us. Yes, I am talking about evangelism and making disciples of Jesus. There is one activity that we will not do in Heaven. We will worship. We will read the Bible. We will talk to Jesus. We will spend time with other believers, but the one thing that we will not do is share our faith. There will be no lost people in Heaven, they will only be in Hell without hope and without God forever at that point. Look, everything matters to God. Every vocation is important. Not everyone should be a full-time missionary or minister, but there is one primary mission our King gave us after His resurrection. "All authority on Heaven and earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:18-19). This mission is not a vocation to choose. It is not a suggestion or an optional direction to follow. It is a command from the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to be obeyed. Does all work matter for the glory of God? Yes. Does this matter more? Yes. Notice, Jesus does not preface this command by saying, "If you are in full-time ministry or a missionary to some unreached people group, go, therefore, and make disciples." No, he doesn't leave us that option. He says, "I've got all authority in the Universe, I've got one primary mission to accomplish, and I'm sending you to do it. Now go, every one of you that belongs to me, and make disciples everywhere you go." If we want our lives to count for eternity, we have got to orient them around the greatest enterprise Heaven has known - the gathering of all nations around the lamb who was slain. While you are in college, you have the opportunity to begin leaving a lasting legacy for Christ right where you are. The opportunity is unique, the privilege is great, and the stakes are high.

If there is one thing we can learn from Kobe Bryant's death it is that death is coming and for every one of us, it is coming sooner than we know. Life is a vapor, a mist, a breath. As one author stated, "One life soon will pass..." It's true, we all only get one go at this thing. So how do we make it count? I was at a conference recently where I heard a mature Christ-follower say, "A life of 35 years lived for Christ is better than a life of 85 years lived for something else." Many of us may likely never pack out the Staples Center, but the legacies of the lives lived for Christ and His Kingdom will be celebrated and shown throughout all eternity. Let's not settle to live for a fading moment.

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