Thursday, October 23, 2014

What is the Good Life?

A few weeks ago in our gathering, we were looking at the Gospel of John, chapter 5. In this passage we find Jesus in Jerusalem for a feast. While there, he healed a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. Jesus asked the man if he wanted to get well. We could restate that question as, "What is the good life?"

There are at least three answers to that question. Each of us has our own. The first answer came from the man himself. "I don't have anyone to help me." I can't do it. He was looking for someone else to provide for him.While I would guess that he did want to get well, it's also possible that he had become comfortable in his condition and was content to just lay there and let others take care of him. Perhaps he had given up. His idea of the good life was to be physically whole and it just wasn't happening. Many times we get the idea that the good life involves good health, a nice house, late model car, and smart children who do well in school. In other words, the American Dream. Those are good things that God sometimes blesses us with. Jesus did heal the man. However, that is not the good life.

The second answer comes from the religious leaders. They told the man that he was breaking the Sabbath by carrying his mat after Jesus healed him. Their idea of the good life was following the rules, being a good, religious person. They believed that rigidly walking in lockstep with the law and all of their addendums would lead to God's favor. In their thinking, Israel would be restored to its former glory when everyone started keeping the law.

Looking over the religious landscape, there are churches and organizations that would give either of the answers above. On the one hand are those who preach that God's favor comes in the form of material blessings. Others preach that "being right with God" by following certain rules is the way. While God does provide for his children and there are commands in Scripture, those things are not the good life. One can have material things or follow the rules, and still not have the good life. One can have little and not follow all the religious rules, and have it.

Jesus gives us the third, and best, answer. He found the man that he healed and told him to stop sinning. Now, Jesus was not telling him that following the rules would bring the good
life. In verses 16-30 Jesus states that the good life is the life to come and could only be found in him. Jesus says that the Son gives life to whomever he pleases, and that those who put their trust in him have crossed over from death to eternal life. This life is not just some far off, future thing. It is life that is right now. It is the abundant life that Jesus promised to his followers. That is the good life and it is available to all who believe, whether wealthy or poor, healthy or sick. It is a life for those who realize that they can't keep enough rules to make God accept them and who fall entirely on the grace of God through the finished work of Christ on the cross.

The invitation is there. Come, live the good life.

2 comments:

KC Bob said...

Not really sure what the good life really is but I think that it might be a life that is lived together with friends who love us enough to help us in and out of troubled waters. And our willingness to do that for them too. :)

Fred Shope said...

I think you're right. That certainly is a big part of it.

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