UCAN sharing: The Best Life
Scripture: Lk. 14:25-34
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. Jn. 10:10
In the 1946 movie It’s A Wonderful Life the main character George Bailey has so many troubles and can’t see the way out which leads him to believe that his life has been all for nothing. He considers suicide as a way of escape and getting the money needed. Yet as the story unfolds he is given an opportunity to see what the world would have been without him. He finds that the things we don’t see are more important than the things we see. We won’t get this opportunity so we must decide what the best life is by either trusting ourselves or trusting God to lead us to the best life.
There are many people who live their lives without God pursuing what they believe to be the best life for themselves. They might be an artist, athlete, business person, scientist or just a housewife but daily they make decisions on how they will live. They pursue life to gain what they believe will bring meaning and fulfillment. If they are gifted and keep at it success may come their way or it might not. Our world applauds people like this; those who succeed according to the world’s standard. They can be found on the covers of magazines and on YouTube showing the world how to get the “real life” that satisfies. These people’s lives show that comfort and pleasure as well as worldly fulfillment are worth pursuing. The call is to live for yourself and pursue what makes you happy.
Many worldly successful people give the appearance of being fulfilled after having pursued their dreams. They may have gained money, power and fame and pleasures but do these things add up to make a truly satisfied life? Does the athlete or artist who reaches their best find it was all worth it and rewarding? Consider what the foundation of this life is. Does having success by pursuing one’s dreams lay a foundation to make the soul better? If this were so then the rich and successful would be model people who reflect a depth of life that we would want to share in. In them could be seen all the characteristics that makes a person “good”. They would love, be generous, pure, kind and loving, pursue truth and righteousness. Now does this fit the people who are living to fulfill their life their way? Recently two famous people choose to kill themselves. Both were very successful meaning they had access to fame, money and worldly pleasures. Yet when they reach the high point of their career they saw the emptiness of it all and confronted with its meaninglessness fell in to despair and then death. Solomon, the wisest of men ever, writes in Ecclesiastes that this life has nothing to offer because all we do has no meaning. We waste our time (Ecc. 1:14). Solomon had it all yet he spoke like this. We can see then that worldly success is not an answer to a search for the best life.
18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.2 Cor. 4:18
For Christians the question of what is the best life is strongly presented to us by God himself. At times it seems to us that God’s idea of life is wrong. In contrast to the comfort, pleasure and temporal happiness the world offers us, true Christian life may seem a far cry from the best. Many Christians fear living fully surrendered to God because may suffer in many ways. When we allow this idea to enter our minds we may begin to question whether living for Christ is all it’s cut out to be. We may hold back from God and give him a part of our lives but not all so that we can maintain a level of life that we like. The appeal of the worldly life has taken hold in our hearts and by it we deny God.
If you know someone who doesn’t believe in God but is successful in this life and is a “good person” meaning they are not openly doing evil then what is it that the godly life offers that they don’t have? God calls us to forsake this life but in return he offers far more than we can ever get in this life. Two things clearly stand out: transformed lives and the gift of eternal life. Firstly, alone no one can change who they are. A lustful person remains lustful despite success. In fact, success usually makes life worst due to pride.
If a person is fearful then success will not take away their fears. Unable to change we will ultimately fall under our own weaknesses. The life we pursue without God has no power to stop us from doing the evil we want to do. Secondly, the world offers things we can’t keep while keeping us from what we can keep. All this world offers will pass away. No one carries it with them to the grave. This life and all in it is just a moment in time. In the end no matter what kind of life we pursue here it doesn’t offer anything of real value if it’s not of God.
This doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy life. God is all about joy but in His way. God is saying that what matters is what is in your heart. If we you love worldly things more than Him then you will lose your life. If we pursue the life here and gain fulfillment in a worldly way we will lose our souls on Judgment Day (Lk. 9:24-25). God knows this is truth and so he puts more emphasis on our godly growth then in our comfort here. When the young rich man came to Jesus he asked Jesus how he could get eternal life. Jesus told him to keep the commandments which the young man said he had. Then Jesus called him to the higher standard of God saying give away all you have, come and follow me. It was a test of love to see if the man loved God. The young man walked away defeated because he loved his money more than God (Matt 19). Jesus loved that young man so much he called him out and asked the man to trust him in knowing what is best for his life. The love of money blocked this young man’s ability to take hold of life in God. He was willing to do works for God that gave him a false righteousness but was not willing to give up the life here for Christ. In other words he didn’t really love God enough to want to be with Him.
9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then,being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Matt 7:9-11 God’s is love. God’s love is described repetitively throughout the bible. He wants us not just to know that he loves us but to experience that love. All He does is because he is love and this is the primary motivation in his heart. So if we believe this and see it by the gift of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ then this must be the foundation for trusting God to give us the best life. God out of this love did not withhold his Son but crushed him for our sake (Isa. 53:10) to pay for our sins. This is truly a high price to pay for a people who are born His enemies (Rom. 5:9-10) and have no desire to turn to Him. Yet God did this for us and offers us a life abundant. Jesus said in Jn. 10:10 that he has come so that we may have life but not just a good life but the best life, abundant in God. So now the question is not whether this world can offer us a fulfilling life, it is whether we believe God for his love and trust him enough to let go of this life for the life he promises. If we truly see the person of God then we will have confidence that all God asks is for our best. So when God says leave your life of comfort to serve Him we can because we know in whom we have trust and His love can’t fail us.
This all seems so extreme to us because we fail to see that God has a completely different standard than the world. His is a perfect, eternal view that is based on who he is. As He is light, love and holiness and no darkness can be allowed to be with him.The life here no matter how appealing it may seem is not of God. He knows this world and all in it is passing away (1 Jn. 2:17). It falls far short of what God offers but when viewed through carnal eyes that seek only to satisfy lustful desires this life seems good. But good is not the best nor is good eternal. God deals in eternity not just in moments that feel good. He wants us to spend eternity with Him in His glory. When we recognize what God is doing and why, it becomes natural to turn away from the appeal of this world for the far better life. Forsaking all to be with God forever is not extreme at all.
3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. Jn 17:3 Much will hinder a Christian from receiving this idea of forsaking all but once again it is God’s love that makes it all happen. If we observe the world we can see that it runs by selfishness but God works by selflessness then we can begin to see how no matter how good we may live now it is still just about us. Therefore pursuing our dreams without God results in an empty life without the hope of overcoming our sin or gaining life after death. Without the change that God brings about in us we will never know real love or learn to forgive those who hurt us. We will live deceived lives investing in whatever desire arises from within. This is not the best life.
Perhaps you have struggled with your desires for this life. You may be successful or gifted in a way that brings you worldly things. Perhaps your heart has desires for the pleasures of this world. All these things make it difficult for you to love God and know him. But stop and think about whether you are truly alive. Are you free of sin? Do joy, peace and righteousness describe your daily life? Are you touching others’ lives with love or live to consume from others? Will all the earthly things you chase fulfill your life really? As you think about these questions ask God to help you see Him and his glory. Ask God to show you what life is really about. If you are willing and make the effort you will be greatly rewarded. The best life is not as we see here but is knowing and loving God.