Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he has promised us, eternal life. — 1 John 2:24-25, NRSV
Life is hard.
What? You already knew that?
Of course you did. We all do. The majority of our time on this (sometimes) pleasant little planet is figuring out how in the world we can make this difficult life somewhat enjoyable and worthwhile. We pursue what some would call “the good life.”
So how do we do that? The “good life” could be determined by one’s career, perhaps their family. Maybe it’s how well-off you are in life or how much one accomplishes in their brief existence. According to the world, these are the kinds of things we need to focus on to achieve a meaningful life.
Now, I am not going to sit here and tell you that your career, family, comfort, and achievements don’t matter. Of course they do, silly goose. However, when it comes to truly living life in a manner that is complete, I am going to argue that all of these things are means through which “the good life” can be lived, but they do not produce it.
In Christian language and tradition, “the good life” is known as eternal life, and it’s important to note that eternal life is not just a reference to post-death existence with God. Of course, this is included, but as indicated in this text from the First Letter of John, eternal life is life that is lived as soon as one begins walking with God. Life lived from that point onward no longer consists of simple survival and checklists, and it no longer relies on worldly favor to feel valuable.
Ponder this for a second.
For the world, living “the good life” is about what we accomplish and the relationships that define us. Our value fluctuates based on fickle standards that change day-to-day. What I am telling you is that this is all nonsense, and when we realize that and live accordingly, not only will we be changed for the better, but all of those other important things (our work, families, relationships, etc.) will also be powerfully transformed. Further, we don’t have to wait for this to happen! As soon as we realize that our value is God-given (inherent), and as soon as we decide to “be” in a way that honors that value in ourselves and in others, “the good life” is already being lived!
As we see in Jesus, God is already with us (Matthew 1:23). God is in our corner, earnestly desiring to bless our lives. His mark rests upon us all, as we are all made in the Divine image (Genesis 1:26-27), and His breath is what gives us life (Genesis 2:7). In short, what makes us valuable and beloved is already walking with us every day, and all we have to do is recognize it. If we acknowledge it in ourselves and in the rest of our brothers and sisters, shunning the fragile and empty values of this world, life becomes complete.
Now, is this a cheap inspirational trick that promises to make life easier? Absolutely not. Life becomes even harder when we try to live “outside the lines.” But I guarantee you that this added difficulty pales in comparison to “the good life” that we will all be living should we see ourselves and each other as was always intended.
Peace be with you!