The vast majority of human beings hunger for the “good life.” But the good life means different things to different people. For some, it means a life that is free of any pain or suffering. Others seem to feel that the good life is a life of materialism — the materialistic maxim is, “he who dies with the most toys wins.” Others know that such approaches are futile and fleeting, and strive for higher objectives by defining the good life as a human quest for character, values, knowledge, ethics, and higher standards.
For Christians the good life can only come when we surrender our will to our Lord and Master. In the fifth chapter of John, Jesus corrected the idea that working harder and/or having more knowledge is a good Christian life. He told the Jewish leaders, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40).
We should note this passage carefully! Bible study, knowledge, higher standards and building character are not what defines the Christian good life. Notice just a few of the passages that instruct us about the good life within the gospel of John:
- “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned.” (John 5:24)
- “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)
- “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53)
- “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)
- “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)
The good life comes when we surrender our lives to our Lord and Master. I love the comment the great English Christian author C. S. Lewis made in this respect:
“We really do not have the slightest notion of the tremendous thing Jesus Christ means to make of us. Imagine yourself living in a house… God comes in to re-build that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He’s doing. He’s getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on. You know that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking down the house in a way that hurts abominably and which doesn’t seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of — You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage; but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself — The process will be long, and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for” (Mere Christianity).
God is building something in us, with us, and through us. We are his tools, we are his workmanship, we are the clay in the Master’s hands. We all know that great passage, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1).
Unless God is doing what he wills with us, unless God is having his way with us, and unless Jesus’ saving work is glorified and revered, we will all labor in vain. The good life can only be had by surrendering to our Lord and Master, and allowing him to live his life within us. He is the master builder, and he will make us into what he wants us to be. God is building something new with all of us. He is giving each of us the “good life.” Sometimes we would like God to hurry up and finish with what he is building! But, the best things happen in God’s timing. He is building something new within all of us individually, and within our fellowship collectively. We do need to be patient, for God is not finished with us yet! Let’s continue to work together to do what God wants us to do, building what he wants and yielding ourselves to his plans for our lives.