Living the Life

Living the Life

People across the globe are in search of a better life. Some, including a variety of religious leaders, make empty promises of a better life. However, our view of a better life is primarily based on economics, education, recreation and health. Yes, of course, these things have a significant value and importance, but we must be cautious and understanding of their temporary nature and lack of guarantee. Sure, most of us want a good paying job and we even hope for a large inheritance. We also want a good education and places to play and relax with friends and family as we enjoy good health. And speaking of good health, we deeply desire a reliable health care system. Afterall, who wouldn’t.
With that said, according to World Vision International, about 36% of the world’s population do not have the privilege of this so-called good life. In fact, they live on a basic subsistence of food, shelter and clothing. Many of us would consider the way they live as abject poverty. We often characterize the way they live as a hard life or a wasted life or a life not worth living. You may have even heard or made remarks like, “I couldn’t live like that” or “how do they live like that?” So allow me to pause here and ask, is our valuation of the good life accurate? For example. in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Luke 16:19–31, the rich man lived an extravagant life and Lazarus was a poor beggar. In the short term, Lazarus’ life is to be pitied. However, in the long term, Lazarus went to paradise and the rich man went to the place of fire and eternal suffering. How does that impact your definition of the good life?

The examples are endless but I’ll share one more. Cheri and I have been watching a series on Amazon Prime called The Underground Railroad. It is a made for television series about how slaves escaped the Southeastern states by traveling on a secret underground railroad system to a free state in the North. During one of the episodes, a rich land owner falsely quotes scripture to justify his ownership of slaves and his horrific treatment of slaves. In another episode, a local politician falsely cited scripture to justify the eradication of people of color in his state and the death penalty for anyone who harbored any such person. Now then, how will God look upon such evil? I dare not say that a rich Southern land owner with slaves lived the good life.
In case we need to be reminded, even though desired, there isn’t anything in the Bible correlating the good life with wealth, education, leisure or even health. Not to mention power. These descriptions are neither included in a biblical definition of life or guarantee of a good life. For instance, the message of Hebrews 11 highlights people of great faith and blessing, but many were mocked, tortured, imprisoned, stoned and homeless. Does that sound like the good life Jesus promised? JN 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. And yet, those named in Hebrews 11 had great joy.
After all, abundant life is not about what we have or what we experience. Furthermore, it’s not about our position or worldly status. Ultimately, abundant life in Jesus is life that is purposeful, joyful, and eternal. It includes what we receive as a gift (salvation, eternal life, joy, grace, mercy, peace, etc.) from the Lord and the privilege of being stewards of the blessings of God.
I know what you are likely thinking. Can I have it all? You know, the rich and easy life now and the promise of heaven for eternity? I don’t know. Can you? Again, instead of measuring the good life in worldly terms, what about looking at your life from an eternal perspective? MK 8:34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul?

In a 2018 Washington Post article, Most Americans vastly underestimate how rich they are compared with the rest of the world. Does it matter?, the writer, Gautam Nair, stated “But even the developed world’s poor and middle classes are, by global standards, extraordinarily rich. After adjusting for cost-of-living differences, a typical American still earns an income that is 10 times the income received by the typical person in the world.” So, as citizens of a rich and prosperous nation, the Bible has a clear message for us, 1 TI 6:17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. In short, the treasure which accumulates in the life to come is not money, stock or real estate. Our treasure is spiritual and it lasts for eternity. In fact, this eternal wealth accumulated as a result of good works and generosity in this life is stored up for us in heaven and is evidence of true faith in God. Sure, most, if not all, of us want a good paying job with benefits and we even wish for a trust fund. We also want good health and an education as we enjoy places to relax with friends and family. And speaking of good health, we insist on a dependable health care system to help us through times of sickness. And, no matter where you’re from or what language you speak, we seem to be in search of a better life that eludes us. However, our view of a better life is primarily based on prosperity, education, sport and health. There are even those who prey on us and claim they can promise us a better life. Yes, of course, these “earthly things” have value and level of importance, but we must be cautious and understand their temporary nature and lack of assurance. Instead, accept the abundant life that Jesus offers. That’s guaranteed and it’s eternal.

A Work in Progress,

Pastor Gene