Dominic Mazzaro was “the man” in my Elementary School. He was bad, tough and cool, so nobody messed with him. He could hit a baseball out of the school playground, over the fence, and into the backyard of a neighbouring house. The girls liked him and the guys admired him, but his environment soon changed. In Senior Elementary School, we still feared him, but saw him as a joke.
During my 20 years of schooling, I often felt superior. I was a natural student, so I got good grades while many other students struggled or failed. But my environment soon changed. In the adult working world, some of those “dumb students” are doing better than I am. It was my turn to struggle and occasionally fail.
People tend to avoid hard effort and do what is easy and pleasurable. If we find our present situation comfortable and enjoyable, our tendency is to want to remain there and not prepare for change. When change comes, and it will, we may be like a fish out of water. A fish out of water cannot walk. It cannot fly. All it can do is die.
When we are toddlers, we must prepare for school. When we are in school, we must prepare for a career. When we have a career, we must prepare for retirement. Most importantly, during our whole lives, we must prepare to meet God. This is the most important preparation and the one that the vast majority of people neglect.
The world usually doesn’t admire or reward those who are holy. Truly righteous people usually don’t become wealthy, very popular or powerful. True holiness demands self-denial and suffering, so the vast majority of people do not strive for holiness. However, if we do not prepare for our lives after death, we are preparing for hell.
The Bible tells us that those who have achieved worldly success, if they don’t strive for holiness, will be losers in the life to come, but the “nobodies,” if they are righteous, will reign with Christ in heaven.
I’m not saying that everyone who is rich, powerful or popular is going to be damned. However, those who strive for these things usually do not prepare to meet God. They love the world and the things of the world and usually have contempt for true religion. Therefore, when they die all that they had on earth will be gone and they will also lose heaven. However, those who strive for holiness do not worry about acquiring great wealth, social status or worldly power. They are willing to be lowly so that Christ might be exalted.
“So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen” (Matthew 20:16).