Note: This post is part of a series entitled, “Lies People Believe”. For an introduction to the series, read THIS POST.
When I was a kid, every cartoon hero had a “battle-cry”. The Thudercats would yell, “Thundercats, ho!” Those Ninja turtles would say, “Cowabunga!” He-Man would say, “By the power of Grayskull! I have the power!”
They would gather their courage, yell, and charge into battle.
If this generation had a battle-cry, I think it would be this one: “YOLO! You Only Live Once.” Millions of people scream those words into the universe of social media, usually to explain or excuse or gather courage for some wild or reckless action.
You only live once! So go for it!
In some ways, I respect the logic behind YOLO. I’m a real believer in seizing opportunities in life. I don’t want to leave this world regretting things undone. Like Paul said in Ephesians 5: 16, we need to make the most of our time down here.
So yeah, I understand the heart behind YOLO.
Unfortunately, YOLO is a lie. It’s just not true. Why?
Before we discuss the philosophical problem with the statement, here are two practical observations:
#1 – There is a marked difference between our culture’s battle cry – “You Only Live Once” – and Paul’s admonition in Ephesians to “redeem the days”. While YOLO is used in justify a carefree, anything-goes approach to life, Paul’s charge implied the opposite.
The full verse in Ephesians 5: 15-16 reads, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
Paul’s point – our life on this planet IS short, but that only makes it so much more important that we use it wisely. God put you here for this time. The days are evil. The world needs the light that you have to offer. So carefully consider how you use your time. What can you do to shine his light into darkness of our culture?
#2 – Those who embrace YOLO wholeheartedly use it as an excuse to:
- Live without boundaries
- Ignore consequences
- Focus on fun instead of embracing meaning and purpose
They say, “You only live once,” but what they mean is, “You might as well live for just this moment.
The problem with that philosophy is that this moment will end before your life on this planet does. How many people destroy the entire direction of their life by trading one fun moment for an entire future? How many would now give anything to get that moment back again?
Of course, neither of those two observations expose why YOLO is a lie. Instead, the problem with YOLO is this:
“You only live once” fails to take into account that life on this earth is not the end. We were created in God’s image, and God is immortal. To that end, God placed a soul in us – the part of you that is really you – and that soul will go on living after you die.
We all live forever. One day, after life on this earth ends, you will stand before God, for better or for worse. If His Son is your Savior, you will step into a new life – life with Him. That will be the first time any of us ever REALLY live.
That’s why we need to be sure to redeem our days on this earth – where we are just passing through – and leverage them for the life that is really life.