In 2011, biophysicist Edward Trifonov tried to find consensus among 123 definitions of life. He grouped into clusters words that were used in the various definitions that had similar meanings, and then He combined the most frequently used word from each cluster to produce a ‘minimal’ definition which was: “Life is self-reproduction with variation.”
Even from a purely secular point of view, life consists of two features: what life has, i.e., physical characteristics such as cells and DNA, and what life does, i.e., processes such as growth and reproduction, and a variation of life experiences. Of course, the pro-abortionist would disagree with that definition.
According to the Pew Research Center, the predominant experience that gives meaning to life is “family!” Regardless of nationality, the common pride of life was one’s relationship with parents, siblings, children, and grandchildren, and the greatest satisfaction in life was to share in the accomplishments of the family. Of course, the pro-globalists would not agree with those intrinsic life values.
So, family, careers, and material well-being are among the most cited factors that make life meaningful. This supports the theory proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943 that life is motivated by five human needs:
physiological (food and clothing), safety (job security), love and belonging (friendship), esteem, and self-actualization, or as one woman put it:
“To be comfortable and stable with the basic needs of food, shelter, health care and public education for my children, and a little extra to be able to go out to dinner or on vacation.”
But regardless of how many years we live, or how meaningful our lives are, real living is more than existing on this earth for a few years, for long after our physical bodies have returned to the dust from whence they came, our spiritual bodies will still be alive, and they will be for eternity, world without end, either in heaven or in hell. That’s why, in Luke 12:15, Jesus warned his listeners, “Be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of earthly possessions.” In verse 21, He said, “one who lays up treasure for himself is not rich toward God.”
In effect, Jesus was saying, the meaning to life is not measured by the earthly treasures we amass, nor the temporal pleasures we enjoy, for while the Lord gives to each a portion of these things, when death comes to call, we will leave them all behind. Naked, we came into the world, and naked we will leave it, and that is the reality of this life!
So, in what does life consist? Jesus said it is “being rich toward God,” but what does that mean? In John 3:16, God said, those who receive Christ as their Savior and Lord will have everlasting life. So, to be rich toward God is to be filled with the riches of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to do that, we must turn away from the pursuit of any earthly goals and the temporary joy they might bring to us and focus our attention on the pursuit of knowing God, for in Him the fullness of this life dwells, and the promise of eternal life exists. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said it this way. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.”
No doubt we have heard that verse many times, and we would like to live that way, but with all that is going on in the world, how can we put God first in our lives? In Jude 1:21, the Apostle answered that question this way. “Keep yourselves in the love of God.” In other words, the secret to having a full and meaningful life during our days upon this earth is to keep ourselves in the love of God.
In His book, Knowing God, J.I. Packer wrote: “To know God’s love is indeed, heaven on earth, and the New Testament sets forth this knowledge, not as a privilege of a favored few, but as a part of ordinary Christians’ experience.” John Wesley wrote, “Oh, love divine, how sweet thou art. When shall I find my willing heart taken up by Thee?”
Jesus not only taught us how to keep ourselves in the love of God, He also modeled it for us. In John 15:9-11, Jesus told His disciples, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. Notice the command, “Abide in My love,” and then the three comparisons:
- “As the Father loved Me, I have loved you.” – Jesus loves us with the same kind of love the Father has for Him.
- “As I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” – We can experience that same kind of love in the same way Jesus did, by our obedience to the Father’s commandments.
- “That My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be made full.” – The end result of walking in obedience to God and constantly experiencing the Father’s delight is the fullness of joy – not momentary happiness, but everlasting joy, and that’s real living!
Now, what is the SOURCE of such Joy? Not the love of mercy or grace, but the love of DELIGHT – i.e., the father’s affection for His Son. If Jesus gives us the same love He received from the Father; then such love cannot be based upon anything we have done, are doing, will do, or will not do! We are the DELIGHT of our Savior’s love.
This may be difficult to comprehend, but our Heavenly Father has drawn His reasons for loving us from Himself! Praise God! All that He demands from us as sinners in order to receive His love has been provided for us by Jesus Christ. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, the Apostle Paul put it this way, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
So, how can we keep ourselves in the love of God? Jesus gave us the pattern for us to follow every day and in every way as He said, “As the Son obeyed the Father and therefore abided in His love, so must we obey the Son and abide in His love.” What does Jesus’ obedience look like?
- What was Jesus’ purpose or ambition? John 6:38- “Not to do my own will, but the will of the One who sent Me.”
- What sustained Him? John 4:34 – “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me.” Jesus said, “I MUST be about My Father’s business,” and, “I DELIGHT to do My Father’s will.”
- Therefore, REAL LIVING is to wake up every morning, take the time to hear from God, and then DO IT!
What was the secret of Jesus’ ministry?
- We discover the answer in Mark 1:35, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where He prayed.”
Jesus did not come to this earth with an encoded blueprint to follow. Like the rest of us must do, Jesus discerned the Father’s will day by day in a life of prayer, and because of this, He was able to resist the urgent demands of others and finish the work the Father had sent Him to do, and in so doing, He showed us the pattern of real living.
Real living is more than self-reproduction with variation, and the true meaning of life is more than our relationship with our earthly family. Real living is being able to stand before the Lord on that day which is soon to come and hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler of many things; enter into the joy of thy Lord.”