Leaving Your Mark: What Kind Of Legacy Will You Leave?
The last year saw the tragic loss of well-known celebrities such as Betty White, Bob Saget, Prince Philip, John Madden, Larry King and Hank Aaron. Each of these and many others etched their names and reputations in time forever — an era truly ended as they passed on. Each legend’s passing warranted massive response from every social media platform and beyond.
The most-recent death of famous comedian and “Full House” actor Bob Saget is an example of how many people can be affected by the life of an individual. Not only did celebrities take to Twitter to proclaim their appreciation for Saget’s impact on their lives, millions who grew up watching him play “dad” recalled fond memories associated with the character.
In the wake of the deaths of these world changers, a question not hovering over heads but protruding from hearts is, “What kind of legacy will I leave?”
If answered by these celebrities, their advice might be to leave a legacy of financial stability to allow our sons and daughters to follow their dreams without worry. Or in a more sentimental manner, they might advise a legacy of strong, loving relationships. They might suggest, as Betty White did, that whatever you do, do it with passion and optimism.
Hank Aaron, one of the greatest baseball players of all time, became an inspiration to hundreds of thousands of adults and kids alike. What he accomplished in his career was courageous and memorable. He became an emblem of determination.
These qualities are ingredients in the recipe of a good legacy. They are, however, incomplete and unfulfilling. The wise King Solomon surveyed the impact that he had — the futility of his legacy.
“There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after,” (Ecc. 1:11).
What Solomon lamented in the first chapter of Ecclesiastes remains true to those leaving a legacy today. Death is inescapable, but life goes on. The remedy to such a depressing confrontation with reality can be found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the reason to leave a true legacy.
The legacies Prince Philip and John Madden left behind, no matter how heroic or inspiring, pale in comparison to the eternal legacy of Christ. His had nothing to do with the values of popular culture. Jesus left the most unconventional legacy.
Not every young man or woman is concerned with the legacy they will leave. “I’ve got time to get through my thirties and settle down some,” they might say. Today’s values are placed on things within arm’s reach or on investments made over time and left as an inheritance for loved ones. Society’s ever-waning interest in lasting things in the face of instant gratification is evidence of the stark contrast between the mind of Jesus and the minds of modernity.
Christ did not leave something that could be hoarded on this earth, “where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19, ESV). The riches of heaven promised to believers in God (Matt. 19:21) are just after-effects of the true legacy he offers. When Jesus arose, he shed death, and he entombed the very thing that warrants the desire to leave a legacy. In glory he ascended, leaving a deathless inheritance for those who believe in him.
This afterlife without death gives Christians the strength they need to navigate this present life. Unlike a temporal legacy, Christ invites us to join his legacy and actively participate in it. Because of the death of death, recipients of God’s grace can shed “the old self with its practices,” and embrace their Savior’s legacy with “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Col. 3:9, 12).
What Jesus leaves for his followers — eternal life and the riches of heaven — is of infinitely more worth than what any man could leave behind. While the impact of celebrities who have passed is deeply meaningful to many, what Christ gives is a true legacy, a legacy Christians can spend with him in glory.
bower is an opinion writer.