One of the biggest idols in our culture is the same one that’s easiest to justify. People tend to recognize the cost of putting too much value in the wrong things like their appearance or a relationship, but what we often emphasize above everything is life itself.
We think it’s okay to put such importance into living adventurously, because shouldn’t we take advantage of our opportunities and live the most satisfying life we can?
Even subliminally, we think it’s okay to put so much value in how we live. This is a reflection of an exaggerated self-worth. We’re told that we’re entitled to experience something more than “the simple life.” The world tells us that we deserve more than the mundane.
But if we put so much importance in our experiences, we’re basically saying that the point of life is simply to enjoy life.
According to this way of thinking, life has to make you happy for it to be worth enduring. In order for our time to matter, life has to look like a movie. You have to be active as the main character and everything that happens has to impact you in some way. We have to be in control and affect other people because otherwise our efforts are meaningless.
By putting our lives on this scale, we devalue ourselves while losing our authenticity. We don’t need to live up to these standards. If we don’t have the career we went to school for in a decade, it’s okay. In the end, our jobs and our accomplishments don’t define us and neither do our shortcomings or our limitations.
Living is about more than succeeding like the hero at the end of a story. Life is more than a character arc.
I am grateful to live for God and not for myself. I am thankful that by His grace, He stood in our place. Through believing in Jesus, I have been redefined by Him.
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
I remember the discouragement I felt in my freshman year of high school when a faculty member gave a presentation on the universities everyone would be going to after graduation. “You only live once, so you have to make this matter,” she said to the class. Knowing that I would eventually go to community college, I couldn’t look forward to living in a dorm room or a college town.
When I started going to PCC, I couldn’t help but be envious of everyone who had been posting sentimental statuses about moving away for school. I had lost out on an experience that I was told I was entitled to.
Except, I wasn’t entitled to the “university experience” any more than I was entitled to the “community college experience.” (Yes, we’re all entitled to an education, but that’s not what I’m talking about.)
After I realized that we don’t have to rely on our stories to define us, I started to understand that I don’t have to feel loss for not attending a university right after high school. Life isn’t about our experiences. It’s about the One who gives us experiences.
In Him, disappointments lose credibility.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
The devil’s greatest temptation is in trying to convince us that we’ve missed out on something good, which can lead us to doubting the goodness of God. He wants us to doubt the character of the One who gives us meaning. Satan wants us to forfeit our purpose.
This is exactly what happened in the garden when Adam and Eve didn’t understand why God restricted them of the tree. The serpent questioned what God had said, and caused them to doubt His goodness. From their perspective, it seemed like God had withheld something good. The devil made Adam and Eve doubt the love and the trustworthiness of their Father who made them.
Instead of choosing and listening to their Creator, they abused creation by taking fruit from the forbidden tree. We do this when we choose our own way of living and trust our own judgement instead of choosing God and listening to what He wants for us.
If a friend bought an AMC gift card and gave it to you to hold onto so you could watch a movie together, it’s implied they want to hang out. It only makes sense that you use the gift card with them, and it’s hoped that your intent is to be with them more than it is to just watch a movie.
God wants us to enjoy life, but not apart from Him and not more than Him. We’ve all neglected His grace, but there is no true, long-lasting happiness that can be found without Christ. Our attempts at finding satisfaction or meaning in the world can never compare to the kingdom we have been brought into.
Not too long ago, one of my friends sent me a quote from the testimony of a former atheist in The Reason for God.
“While sitting in a coffee shop reading C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, I put down the book and wrote in my notebook, ‘the evidence surrounding the claims of Christianity is simply overwhelming.’ I realized that my achievements were ultimately unsatisfying, the approval of man is fleeting, that a carpe diem life lived solely for adventure is just a form of narcissism and idolatry. And so I became a believer in Christ.”