Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Living the Good Life

Each day is filled with importance. One of the ways we know that life is important is because of the different emotions we feel as we experience different events. Life is important so we throw a party to celebrate an anniversary. Life is important so we attend the wedding of a close friend, and smile as she receives the kiss from her new husband. Life is important so we spend hours preparing for the big presentation at work. Life is important so we do a victory dance when the Boston Celtics beat the Detroit Pistons. Though some of these things are more significant than others I hope you see my point. There is meaning in our everyday lives.

I believe one of the problems we have, and the reason that life often fails to live up to our expectations is that we make our lives these about these everyday events. Yet when the deal falls through, our spouse dies, and our team loses it feels like our world has come to an end. It is not possible to experience the good life through these events. Even if nothing tragic happens these things are ultimately unable to give us the purpose that we need, and in the end they themselves lose their meaning. The "good life" cannot be discovered in moving from one event to another.

These events are what I would call “life enhancers”. They have the ability to help us experience life at its best, but they are not what life is about. Using these “life enhancers” as the route to a meaningful life is impossible. It is like to trying to eat chocolate cream pie in order to have good health. It can’t be done. It may be enjoyable for a time, but sooner or later it will make us sick.

Yet we know that God wants us to have a good and abundant life. Jesus told us:
10 The thief comes only to steal, slaughter, and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:10-11; ISV)

Jesus makes the claim in this passage that he has come to give us a good life. He is able to do that because he is the good shepherd. The reason Jesus says He can give us the “good life” is because He laid down His life for us. Sin robs us of life for God has declared that the wages of sin is death. If sin = death then in order for us to have life someone would have to die in our place. To be honest with you I don’t understand how Jesus’ death takes care of my sin, but I know because of His resurrection that it does. Jesus’ death deals with our sin and His resurrection is evidence that new life flows through our veins.

If you are like me you wonder where this “good life” is at. Life is tough and tragedy always seems to be there ready to rob us of our joy. How can we experience the “good life” God has promised us through Jesus?

In this passage Jesus uses the illustration of a shepherd and his sheep. As I thought about this illustration I discovered two ways Jesus gives us the “good life”.

The first way is that Jesus guides us. Jesus leads us to green pastures and quiet waters, in short He provides for our needs. Following Jesus is more than trusting God to meet our needs. Following Jesus means to participate with Him in ministry. The life of faith enables us to give our lives away to a higher purpose as we build relationships with people and experience God’s power at work in the world. The “good life” is found when we live by faith: trusting God to provide for our needs and giving our lives away to His purpose.

The second way Jesus provides the “good life” is that he puts us in a protective pen. A shepherd puts his sheep in a pen to protect them from predators and thieves who are prowling around. Jesus gives us his commands to protect us for the pit falls and dangers of life. We want to see Jesus’ commands as restrictive, preventing us from having the “good life”, but the truth is the opposite is true. God’s commands are not restricting. They are freeing. They are designed go help us live life to the very best. This doesn’t mean we will be shielded by tragedy, but it does mean that God will protect us from being lured away by the enemy. Jesus wants us to have a full life, and His teachings protect us from the mistakes that keep our lives from being good. When we disobey God, we miss out on the full life He wants to give us.

The “good life” isn’t about a life filled with “life enhancers”, but it is about living a life following Jesus. We will be disappointed by a life filled with “life enhancers” because they are unable to add purpose to our lives. When we have purpose it makes those “life enhancers” a little bit sweeter. That is the life Jesus is offering to us.

  • Point to Ponder: Jesus’ death deals with our sin and His resurrection is evidence that new life flows through our veins.
  • Passage to Remember: John 10:10, 11
  • Question to Consider: What do you consider the good life to be?

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