Monday, April 26, 2010

Life

There are two things that I think I could get everyone on earth to agree with:

  1. We are all interested in the pursuit of life (whatever definition we use to define "life" with, such as success, happiness, peace, joy, etc.)
  2. There is always something that seems to get in the way of that pursuit

If we take these premises, if you will, as givens then we can consider the ways we go about answering the problem in number two as having two directions:

  1. Either our definition of life doesn't work (maybe it's too unrealistic or unattainable); or
  2. What we are seeing as the problem getting in the way of our pursuit of life is incorrect

For example, if my pursuit of life is based on great wealth or fame but I live in a situation where neither education nor opportunity exist for me realistically, then I'm probably unlikely to achieve my definition of life. After making many attempts to get rich, expose my talent to the world, or work hard at developing my skills, I could realize that maybe it's time I change what I pursue in life (#1). Or, I could come to the conclusion that the world is against me and realize that I would be able to achieve my goals if only those obstacles were removed (#2). As a result, we end up pursuing the wrong things, digging ourselves deeper into pits of despair, anger, and bitterness.

The problem, however, is that as egocentric human people (meaning to some degree we're basically self-centered in that life revolves around us; we see the world only through our own experiences) we're not very likely to want to or be able to see that we are what gets in the way of our pursuits and that those pursuits are usually for our own pleasure. Instead, we continue to seek other self-gratifying pursuits, never discovering that it is ourselves and our own desires that are the real problem to life.

If we're ever going to achieve real life, we must first see the problem as God does (Galatians 5:16-26); our sinful human desires are the problem, and the root of all the evil and chaos in the world. Hebrews 9:14 says that those desires were crucified with Christ in order that we may serve the living God. Then, as we have given up our pursuit of earthly things that pass away and only cause us harm, we become transformed by God's incredible power of mercy, able to see that He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Real life is about God and has nothing to do with us. On the contrary, when we pursue serving God only then do we receive the joy, happiness, and satisfaction we all desire... but in a completely different way than any human could ever have imagined on his own.

4 comments:

Jennifer said...

I die everyday to be reborn in Christ. I pray God gives me a new heart and desires, so that I will want only what he has for me, and so that I will not be so focused on the world because what the world has to offer doesn't even compere to what God has for you, most people focus on trying to be good at things that they just aren't good at, for example why dream of being a singer if you can't sing? learn what God has given you to be good at and let him lead you along that path, thats the struggle ( for a lot of people)

BF said...

Hey Aaron,
Life certainly does seem like a pursuit sometimes! I'm not always sure what I'm pursuing, but time keeps reminding me SOMEthing is moving. I think I agree that humans ("we") are the #1 obstacle to human sustainability and contentment. But I don't think it's because there is something fundamentally wrong with humans. I mention this because the language of "denying oneself" is just as confusing to me (and everyone, I'm sure) as the language of being "alive to God." We have one life, and no matter how you slice it, you must live that life now, in this time, with knowledge of God coinciding with knowledge of self. If this knowledge were not available to humans, if our lives were eternally incomplete, flawed pieces of something unfathomable, this would contradict the concept of a God who is truly concerned with a human being's "pursuit of life." I have no problem drawing parallels between God and Man, as simile, because "God" can sometimes represent "everything else," and humans need to be a little more concerned with that kind of god.

An interesting exercise would be to think about other species of animal, and what obstacles those species encounter throughout their pursuit of life. Are they the same kinds of obstacles? Why or why not?

ellentopness said...

I agree with you!!! I love your two premises and that we really need to evaluate them in light of God's Word and the pursuit of God. I would only add that God gives us the desires of our heart. Therefore, if it is not wrong in the eyes of God, maybe it's right. By that I mean that sometimes we question too much. It is ok, for example, to do things that are enjoyable to you, even if you will not be the next American Idol or Nobel Prize winner. I think the key in all pursuits is that they need to be little p's while the big P (pursuing God) should be the driving force.

I miss you in meetings. Hope all is well!

Aaron said...

@Jennifer: I love that first phrase - dying everyday to be reborn in Christ. Right on!

@Bryan: First off, thanks for the feedback! I really appreciate your comments and the opportunity to wrestle with this stuff even more. The language may be confusing, so let me clarify. If humans are fundamentally flawed (sin), then any amount of trying should ultimately still result in failure (death). It's like multiplying any number by zero - the answer is always still zero. Dying to self means giving up trying to multiply by zero, and letting God fill us with a number - 1, 5, 100, 1 million. To the extent with which we allow God to fill us (and to which His grace allows), that is how much we truly "live." Does that help? Or is that off-track from what you were getting at?

As far as the other stuff goes... how can God represent everything else and still be God? Doesn't that parallel contradict God's very definition - how can the Creator be the creation? Just like your music reflects you the artist, to say anything else would be insulting to you as the artist, right? (I'm excited to hear your perspective, so please feel free to reply!)

@Ellen: Beautifully stated. I like how you made it practical with the big and little P idea - that we can enjoy our friends, sports, money, and all that life has to offer as long as He is the driving force rather than the stuff! I do miss you in meetings, too, but I'm grateful you stepped out to comment on my blog here! :-D

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