I came across this photo of the disgraced mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, and observed a couple of things that got me thinking. I find the visual content of the image somewhat pathetic and prophetic at the same time and, in one sense, ironic.
Prophetic in that the depiction of the Grim Reaper behind his left shoulder (obviously some leftover Hallowe'en decoration wherever he was) would indicate that his time left here on earth is not for long. I mean, look at the guy. Aside from the stress of being the mayor of Canada's largest city; aside from the stress caused by this ongoing and very public scandal; aside from the known fact he is a very heavy consumer of alcohol; aside from the fact that he is a user of illicit drugs (read his bio), etc…the man is also absolutely obese! Physically speaking, how much can a human heart take?
Ironic in that the tie he is wearing is laden with happy smiley faces. Go figure.
Rob Ford IS going to die.
Probably sooner than the rest of us but, then again, maybe not. He may live another 50 years or more, who knows? And you or I might die tonight. Doesn't seem fair, does it? The Grim Reaper has nothing on us, however, not anybody. He doesn't exist. God does though. And that makes all the difference in the world as it is He, our Creator, whom we must stand before to give an account on Judgment Day for everything we ever did, said and thought during our time here on earth.
"Death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart." - Ecclesiastes 7:2
"It is appointed once for man to die and after this the judgment." - Hebrews 9:27
This is what I came to ponder: I am a Christian, Rob Ford is not. In the eyes of God, however, outside of Christ, I'm no better a man than the mayor. How so? It could be argued that Rob Ford is a proven liar, a drunk, a blasphemer, an adulterer, a hater, a coveter, an idolator and a rebel against God, all of which God hates.
"Yes, but, how do you fit into this picture?", one might ask me. My answer? During the first 44 years of my life I was all these things. The difference between me and the mayor is that his sins, being a public figure, were made public. My sinful lifestyle, on the other hand and for the most part, was a private affair only known to those who knew me well, especially the ones closest to me who were emotionally scarred by my "mistakes and bad choices". My sins were against God, against my family and others, and against my own flesh. I am no better a man than Rob Ford. We have completely different personalities but we were born with the same sinful nature. In the long run, as a Christian I'm better off, but certainly not better if I were left to myself.
Does Rob Ford deserve to be granted eternal life in heaven? No he does not. Does Paul Latour deserve to be granted eternal life in heaven? No he does not. If Rob Ford were to die today, would he end up in heaven? No, he would not. If Paul Latour were to die today, would he end up in heaven. Yes, he would.
Unlike Rob Ford (at this point in his life), God had opened my eyes and my heart to the truth of the gospel. In the hearing of the gospel 14 years ago, God convicted me, helping me understand that I was a vile sinner in need of redemption, in need of a great Saviour. I was made to understand that I needed to turn from my sin and trust Christ as my Lord and my Saviour, second to none because there are no others: no other way to God, no other way to receive forgiveness, no other way to heaven than through Jesus alone.
"I am the way, the truth and the life. No one come to the Father except through me", Jesus says in John 14:6.
"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." - Act 4:12
"And it shall come to pass that all who call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved." - Acts 2:21
"Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth.; for I am God and there is no other." - Isaiah 45:22
You don't like Rob Ford? Neither do I, but probably for a different reason. You may not like him because he's not like you. I don't like him because he reminds me of me in my former lifestyle, just maybe a bit more subtle. I may not have sinned in the exact same way he has, but I certainly had sinned in ways that are biblically categorized as being the same kind of sin. Sin is sin no matter how we commit it. And God's just punishment for all unrepentant sinners is the same: eternal hell.
"Anyone whose name was not found it the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire." - Revelation 20:15
So if you and Ford died tonight, in comparison to him, how would God see you on Judgment Day? If your conscience convinced you that you were in need of redemption before you died and your trust here on earth was in something or someone (even yourself) other than Jesus Christ to save you, you would stand just as guilty as Mr Ford and the eternal wrath of God awaits you. If, however, your faith and trust was in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins before you died, God would see you as though you never sinned and your eternal reward awaits you.
As long as Rob Ford lives and breathes, despite the vile and despicable person he has proven himself to be, God's saving grace is freely available to him if he were able to see himself as a sinner in need of a Saviour and cry out to God for mercy believing that Jesus died in his place, as his substitute, on the cross for his sins. Even for the likes of him (and you and me), God's love, mercy, forgiveness and eternal reward in heaven is available to him through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
I am going to mail Mayor Rob Ford in Toronto a gospel tract. That, along with prayer, is the very least I can do for him as an ambassador the One who graciously saved a wretch like me.
I already have Jesus. Rob Ford needs Jesus. Do YOU?