Ever wonder why when we try to bring love and joy into our lives the things we try often seem to leave us lifeless, lonely and even depressed? We clutch to our shrinking hopes that life is found in the next great adventure or the next exciting diversion but these offer only a brief respite from the ever increasing sense that true happiness is a futile hope. Or as King Solomon said;
“Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” — Ecclesiastes 1:1 NIV
This problem of finding happiness in life has been haunting mankind a long, long time. And it doesn’t seem to be diminished with the answers touted by the cultural philosophers and pundits of our day. No, the answers we get are just the meager retreads of past generations made to look new.
- Get something new: Car, house, husband or golf clubs … it really doesn’t matter as long as it’s new.
- Become someone important: Here our happiness is dependent upon how we are appreciated by others.
- Do something exciting: Go on a cruise, climb a mountain or visit Rome; just get out and find a diversion.
- Find it within yourself: This is the self-help, humanistic approach that says in essence; “if the bottle is empty slap a label on it and call it happy”.
Jesus offered a different solution, one that is radical and counter intuitive; you might even call it upside down. But first it would be good for us to review his credentials for offering the answer to this quest for life. Jesus wasn’t just another philosopher with a novel idea he was the Creator of the universe and Author of life.
“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” — Colossians 1:16 NIV
Therefore, his words have the power of truth behind them. All other opinions are groping in the darkness but Jesus’ words are piercing flashes of light that allow us a glimpse into eternity. He said:
“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” — Matthew 16:25 NIV
Life is found where we are not looking for it; it is found in the losing. Yes, I know this sounds insane. How can we find something that we are not looking for? But the life we are seeking cannot be found seeking within or adding more external stuff to our lives. It is only found when we abandon our futile actions and turn to him as our only source of life.
Does this mean that we never go on vacation or see a movie? Do we just sit at home and give up every pleasure we have ever enjoyed? Certainly not. The life Jesus offers does not subtract but exponentially adds to our lives. When we finally realize that our seeking after life is futile and turn to the author and sustainer of life our world explodes with a newness and vibrancy we could never have imagined.
But before I end let me leave you with this caution. Our miserable attempts to find life outside of Jesus is insidious and stubborn. We are addicted to the lie that something other than God can somehow satisfy our longings. We even can make religion a substitute for authentically living in relationship with Jesus. Jesus said we need to abandon every vain attempt at finding our life outside of him. This means that all attempts to make ourselves worthy of his love or good enough to deserve his forgiveness are futile. So many of us start with Jesus in the full realization that we cannot save ourselves but somehow lose that awareness during the journey. We begin to seek our life outside of Jesus. It is when we experience the pain and frustration of this decision that we turn back to God. But so often when we do our complaint is, “why have you abandoned me!” We are like little children chiding our parents when we have run away from home. We must ask ourselves first; am I seeking my life somewhere other than in Jesus? If we are then we need to repent of our disobedience and once again lose our false life to the only one who offers eternal abundant life.
So this is the challenge. Will you consider living a life that is upside down? Will you listen, I mean really listen to the words of Jesus as he dares us to live beyond ourselves and calls us to an eternal perspective? In our coming blogs we’re going to explore this concept of upside down living. Please join us on the journey it’s going to be a great adventure!
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