Your Best Life Now AND In The Life To Come
Your Best Life Now AND In The Life To Come
A famous television preacher recently wrote a book about how to have your best life, with the focus on your present life; your life in this age. Rarely was God mentioned. It was a treatise on positive thinking and pop psychology. Now I have nothing against positive thinking or psychology, when used properly. Coupled together they do have a great effect on one’s life. Norman Vincent Peale’s best selling book “The Power of Positive Thinking” incorporates many of those principles. It is little known that the working title of the book was “The Power of Faith” however the publisher thought it would sell better under the other title. This is a great book, but what makes it great is that Mr. Peale kept God, and faith in God, as the central theme. In the book previously mentioned God is kept at a minimum, one review I read stated that the word “God” only appeared three times in the entire book.
Let me ask you a question, actually two questions. First, who do you think can plan and direct your best life in this life you now live? And the second question is: “Do your want your best life now in this life, or your best life in the life to come?” Anyone with a smattering of common sense would answer “God” to the first question and “the life to come” in the second. But it is not a question of either or but both and, you can have both. You can have your best life in this current life and also your best life in the life to come.
Turn in your Bibles if you will to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 9 and verse 23-24. There we will find these words:
Luke 9:23-24 (KJV)
23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
Verse 24 of that passage presents a paradox. How can you lose your life and also save it at the same time? Not possible. That is if you are talking about your current physical life. But consider this, if one is seeking though his or her own power and abilities to have the best life now, they will loose the best life now because it is not the best life that God can plan and provide. However if one is seeking to have the best life now by allowing God to plan and direct their life, they will obtain the best life now and lose the life they had planned. Most often the two are the same, the life you want to obtain though your own efforts corresponds with the best life God has planned for you. On the one hand you are trying to obtain it through your own abilities and on the other, you give up that effort and allow God to take control of your life because He can most certainly do a better job of it than you can.
Look at verse 23 of that passage and it will tie into that thought, follow after him, denying yourself or the life you planned without God.
Now consider a parallel verse in Luke chapter 17 and verse 33. There we find these words:
Luke 17:33 (KJV) .
33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
Coupled together with the first quotation should make this concept more understandable. It is in surrendering your life to Jesus that makes the difference. On the one hand you fight and struggle to achieve what your idea of the best life for you is. On the other hand, Jesus takes over and is able to make that best life truly the best life for you! You now have the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit helping you along the way!
I heard a story some time back about how a particular native tribe in Africa trapped monkeys. They grew a long necked gourd and when the appropriate size, cut and dried it with the interior cleaned out. It became hard as a rock. Then they would anchor the gourd by tying a rope around it and then tying the rope to a tree. With this done, they would drop a piece of fruit down the neck of the gourd that would be just small enough to barely clear the opening. Leaving it thus, a monkey would approach sensing (by smell I guess) that there was food inside. Reaching his hand in he would grasp the fruit which now made it impossible to withdraw his hand! If the monkey and wisdom and sense enough, he could release his grasp on the food, withdraw his hand, then tip the gourd and let the food roll out. In that way he would have the food and his freedom too. But of course, the monkey doesn’t have the wisdom and intelligence to do so, so he remains trapped by what he has grasped and refuses to let go. The 1967 Beatles album Sgt. Pepper portrayed 16 people!
I think many people are like that, we have a tendency to grasp something in the mental realm such as the good life we want, and refuse to let go. When if we had wisdom enough to let go, deny ourself, lose the life we have planned for ourselves and turn it over to God we would find the best life for us. Most often it would be the same that you aspired to achieve! One objection to this that is commonly put forth, is that “If I turn my life over to Jesus he would call me to be a missionary to Africa or some other far away dismal place”! Well, if that turned out to be the case then that life would be your best life now because it is directed by God. We lack the faith in God to take that step and grasp our own idea of the best life. Consider this; he will of God will never lead you into a place where the grace of God cannot keep you!
Losing your life is tantamount to putting off the old man; consider the following verses:
Romans 6:5-8 (KJV)
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
Ephesians 4:21-24 (KJV)
21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Colossians 3:9-10 (KJV)
9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
10 And have put on the new man,
The old man is our former way of life, seeking our best life relying on our own abilities, in doing so you lose your life by putting off the old man, the self-directed life and save it at the same time (via the new man, the new life, directed by Jesus and the Holy Spirit. There is no paradox, you save your life by losing it!)
Now you can join with the Apostle Paul as he states that he is crucified (dead) never the less he lives:
Galatians 2:20 (KJV)
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Now you will be able to have your best life NOW and also the best life in the life to come!