Recently, The University of South Carolina admitted to 10 violations of NCAA rules with respect to their football program. Five of these violations were considered "major violations" by the NCAA. (See here for more information) Each of the violations took place during the tenure of Lou Holtz, the legendary former coach of Notre Dame who retired from USC before the violations came to light.

On August 2nd, Holtz made an appearance on the new ESPN show "Quite Frankly" where he was asked about the possibility that the violations would tarnish his legacy. The host, Stephen A. Smith asked Holtz if he worried about the way people might remember him after he is gone. Lou Holtz responded:

"They're going to forget all about Lou Holtz...Don't worry about when I die. Three days later people are going to realize that I am not resurrected, and forget all about Lou Holtz."

As I watched Holtz's comments replayed on Sportscenter yesterday morning, I couldn't help but shake my head. Sadly, Holtz's perspective on life and legacy highlights a sentiment that is everywhere today: We're born, we live, we retire, we die. American culture today as a whole is focused solely on the 80 years or so between our first and last breaths.

Concepts such as legacy, significance, and purpose have been redefined to speak of a goal which is acheivable in this lifetime, but irrelavent upon death. Buildings are named for wealthy businessmen who pour their finances into an organization - a sign of success to today's generation, although everyone knows those very same buildings will be renamed or replaced once that donor is no longer useful to the organization. Significance is defined by each individual's 15 minutes of fame, but waxes and wanes with the ever-changing fads and trends of the time.

The refocusing of this culture's priorities has had a counter-effect that no one anticipated, and few have taken the time to recognize. The shift has spawned a generation completely devoid of hope. The reason is simple: If legacy, significance, and success are defined and limited to the span between each individual's first and last breath, hope is limited to the same boundaries.

Maybe it should be natural for the world apart from Christ to think in these terms. Those who are simply born, and only have life in a human body must find their significance and success in the time frame during which that human body is functioning. From the moment the body breathes its first breath, the clock begins ticking away the seconds until that body will expire. There is no hope beyond that.

But Christians should never allow themselves to be limited to such a narrow view of life and hope. According to 1 Peter 1:23 "[We] have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable..."

For those who have been born again of an imperishable seed, we are not in the process of dying - We're in the process of living. Eternal life is a present posession of those who have put their faith in Christ (John 5:24). Life doesn't end at the grave. Significance isn't measured by accomplishments which will only last for a time. And "legacy isn't just a catch word that makes us sound like we're concerned about the welfare of others. As those who are given eternal life, we are given the awesome responsibility of living a life with that timeframe in mind.