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Monday, December 9, 2013

Reflections on Paul Walker's Fast & Furious Death

Sunday, I preached at Pathway Bible Church, a block away from the memorial for Fast & Furious actor Paul Walker. After the worship service, my family and I slowly rolled through the massive crowd of grieving fans and sports car enthusiasts he inspired.

I couldn’t ignore the tragic irony that the text from which I preached, a text I had chosen weeks earlier, was Psalm 73. Psalm 73 is a wisdom Psalm. It warns believers not to be seduced by the glamor and fun of those living fast and furious lifestyles. It teaches that their end will come fast and furiously in a way that will be anything but glamorous and fun (73:18-19). It is a message that all people need to hear over and over again, especially the young and impressionable.

I can’t tell you how many times I have almost died doing foolish things. God is gracious and patient to all, but the message of Psalm 73 must be heeded. The God, who is gracious and patient, warns that our choices have consequences even when the consequences aren't immediately manifested. Hollywood movies lie when they contradict this truth. Too often Hollywood glamorizes fast, morally loose, and reckless lifestyles as being only exciting and fun. The real truth is told in Psalm 73. Sin can be fun and exciting and may even be prosperous, but only for a short season.

Paul Walker’s dad knew this truth. The media reported this warning he had given to his son. “The last conversation we had, I sat there, I looked at him and I said, ‘You know, I love you very much. I love all of you. And we’re all very, very close. If anything was to happen to anybody in this family, it would be a rough deal,’” He added, “Promise me, no more daredevil stuff.” I looked at him, I said, “Will you promise me that?” Paul only answered, “OK.”

My heart breaks for Paul Walker's family. What parent doesn’t dread the prospect of getting a call that his or her son or daughter has died in a tragic way. I am praying for his parents and his 15 year-old daughter, and I pray that all who hear this story will stop and pray for this grieving family.

But for Paul’s Hollywood fans, there is another message that I hope they will carefully consider. The Bible soberly but truthfully teaches that living foolishly is sin and that sin carries a hefty price—death. And God, who is gracious and patient, declares that He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. He, therefore, commands sinners to confess that they have rebelled against Him, and acknowledge by faith that His Son, Jesus, paid the penalty for their sins when He died on the cross. As the only one who rose from the grave, who defeated sin and Satan, Jesus promises to pardon sinners who turn from sin to trust in Him and to give them eternal life, and by the Holy Spirit, the means to live a life of wisdom that pleases God.

My prayer is that from the tragedy of Paul Walker’s death, a greater tragedy will be avoided—more deaths because Hollywood’s lies and tries to hide the truth of Psalm 73. Fast and furious lifestyles are only fun for a moment yet they lead to an eternity of pain and suffering. Instead, live by faith in Christ, free from the carnal enticements of Hollywood. The cost of such a sacrifice will only be for a moment but will gain for you an eternal reward of glory. Choose your path of life by faith in Christ, heeding the Word of God and live wisely. Then and only then will you experience true abundance of life.  

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