"The Life of Our Lives"
"To live is Christ"
The Apostle Paul's fascinating affirmation regarding the Lord Jesus Christ as the very life of born again believers leads us along many pathways of truth. What does Paul mean by the simple, but eternally wondrous statement?
Perhaps one way of discovering an answer lies in contrast. That is, if "to live is Christ", what are the deceptive alternatives offered by Satan, the world, and the flesh? Many possibilities present themselves in the pages of Scripture, delusions that contradict the truth of "He is thy life" (Deuteronomy 30:20).
The planet is not our life. "The world passeth away" (I John 2:17). We were born here, and barring the Lord's return during our lifetime, we will physically die here. Moreover. all our experience until now involves our earthly presence and activity. However, the earth is not our home. Nor does it constitute the truest venue of our life. Believers are rather citizens of another realm characterized by a different environment, economy, protocol, and moral atmosphere. "Our conversation (citizenship) is in Heaven" (Philippians 3:20). Thus, the earth cannot fill or fulfill our hearts because our hearts live elsewhere.
People are not our life. As blessed as it is to love and be loved by human beings, no fellow mortal of flesh and blood can serve as the Life of our lives. We put undue pressure on people if we look to them for true contentment and joy. Certainly family, friends, colleagues, and even passing strangers can serve as the vehicle for God's great and good blessing. They cannot, however, inhabit our spirits to serve as the Life of our lives. Only the Spirit of the living God can do that as He reveals the peace, joy, and fulfillment of the Lord Jesus for which our hearts were made. "Vain is the help of man" regarding genuine life and contentment (Psalm 60:11). People are not and cannot be our life.
Pleasure is not our life. "God giveth us richly all things to enjoy" declared the Apostle Paul, and thus our Heavenly Father means for us to embrace and enjoy the pleasant blessings He provides (I Timothy 6:17). However, we must not view pleasure as the basis of joy. Much of the believer's contentment resides in the challenges of life as our Lord makes possible the seeming enigma of being "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (II Corinthians 6:10). No asceticism can be found in the pages of the New Testament, nor are we called to punish our bodies in order to appease or please God. Nevertheless, we must recognize that feeling good cannot serve as the primary goal of life. In this present world, pleasure is fleeting, pain is necessary, and to please our Heavenly Father rather than ourselves must serve as our primary determination.
Pennies are not our life. Nor are nickels, dimes, quarters, or dollars. "There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches" (Proverbs 13:7). Money serves as a necessary tool in this present life, but it possesses no more power to fulfill our hearts than a hammer, wrench, or screwdriver. Believers thus use the monetary instrument as do all others, but we view money in a vastly different way. First, we consider ourselves to actually have no money. It, like all other possessions, belongs to our Lord. We serve as "good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (I Peter 4:10). Few greater measures of practical peace descend upon us than the acknowledgement that our every penny, nickel, dime, quarter, and dollar actually belongs to Him. And few greater measures of misery plague the soul that hordes its gold unto itself.
Possessions are not our life. As those "good stewards", we view everything we own not as our own, but rather as the property of Another. Thus, we hold all things lightly, and rejoice as the stranglehold of possession uncoils itself from our neck. Those things we view as having actually have us. We can therefore lose nothing because in the truest sense, we have nothing. "The Possessor of Heaven and earth" rather owns all (Genesis 14:22). Frequent prayerful acknowledgement that possessions are not our life bestows tranquility of heart as we let go of that which we never actually had.
Profession is not our life. Our callings in life require much time, effort, and sacrifice, both in preparation and execution. For most people, a great percentage of life is rightly spent on the job, be it in the workplace or in responsibilities of caring for home and family. God made us to work and to do. Much joy can therefore be found in our labors, even when they require the aforementioned time, effort, and sacrifice. However, our professions cannot satisfy our hearts. As the saying goes, we are "human beings", not "human doings". We rightly labor, and rejoice in the blessing of the Psalmist: "Thou shalt eat the labor of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee" (Psalm 128:2). We do not, however, perceive our work as the Life of our lives.
Finally, publicity is not our life. We cannot fulfill our hearts by seeking to build or enhance our own reputation. We rather exist for the honor of Another. "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord" (I Corinthians 1:31). Doing what we do to be noticed poisons the soul of all who drink this devil's potent brew of deception. Even if fame comes, it is fleeting. And even if it were not fleeting, it would not be fulfilling. As one notable confessed, "I wanted to be famous - until five minutes after it happened" (interestingly, the notable in question continued his search even after the realization, thus confirming the cruel mastery of fame's illusion and delusion). On a smaller scale, if we seek attention or affirmation of our doings in the small ponds wherein most of us live, the same futility drowns our soul in frustration. We must seek to further the reputation of the Lord Jesus in order to know true fulfillment of heart and life. "Not unto us, o Lord, not unto us! But unto Thy name give glory!" (Psalm 115:1).
Christ alone serves as the Life of our lives - "to live is Christ". Nothing else qualifies, and all other things serve as cruel masters that sap rather than satisfy. Thus, we build the altar in our hearts - Christ only, Christ now, Christ forever! This is life, the Life of our lives. There is no other.
"Your heart shall live that seeks God."
Weekly Memory Verse
He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.