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The Good Life

The good life comes up because I have wondered about the idea of being free in Christ.

The idea of being a slave to sin and now alive in Christ confused me.

How do you go from being a slave to one thing and then a slave to the other and call that freedom?

To take that a step further, how is it to obey Christ is freedom even though sometimes it feels like a different set of rules we must follow?

How does it all fit into this idea of having a good life? What about this is considered abundant?

I think about the verse in the Bible where Jesus says, “I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly” When I am interacting in various circumstances and today’s circumstances especially. It is hard to understand how any of this could feel like a good life considering the pain and suffering that so many people are facing.

Today I wanted to dig in and talk about the fruit of the Holy Spirit: goodness, which is often misunderstood. Seeing the goodness of this life includes having a proper perspective of our condition without Christ. Because He is not right there next to us staring us down, I think it can be difficult to remember our condition without Him. The good life is having an option out of slavery to sin. I thought before that I have all these choices and that I am free to choose. It sometimes feels like since I have chosen Christ that I am forced into this mold that feels constricting and kind of like a trap.

Have you felt that way before? The problem is our faulty perspective. A better perspective would be in the following two analogies.

One perspective would be the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. Have read one of those before? When you get to a particular point in the story the character has two choices to make. The book may say something like “If you want to walk across the bridge then go to page 46 and if you want to go through the door and then go to page 57. Sometimes I would read those books and one path would always lead to the character dying or something bad happening. There would be only one choice that would lead to life or success, all the others would lead to failure. I would read one option and realize that it led to death, so then I would go back and read the next option hoping it would lead to life. I think of Christ of being that singular path. Yes, there may be all kinds of other choices that we can make out there, but they all lead to eternal death. The only path that leads to life is Christ. While it doesn’t look like freedom if we didn’t have that path to choose we would feel so trapped. Because Christ came, died on the cross, was buried, and rose again on the third day and paid for our sins, we have a path to life.

Secondly, Imagine instead that you are a wild animal trapped in a cage and no matter what you do, you cannot escape from it. But then there is Christ, and He is the door. If we follow this analogy forward and we see that Christ is the doorway. We can go through the door, but we must go through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and know that He is the only way, Christ becomes freedom and the way to abundant life and is on the outside of the cage. You have the choice; you can stay on the inside of the cage or you’re free to leave. Christ makes a way out. If you want to leave you can choose to go through Christ to get out. This is a good abundant life. Think of the cage analogy while reading Romans 6.

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be [a]done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been [b]freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, [c]reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as [d]instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were [e]delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness [f]for holiness.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit [g]to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the [h]gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

When I read this chapter and see it in the context of being set free from the cage of sin and realizing that it was Christ who set me free, I discover I am on the outside of the cage of sin. I want to live like I am alive to God and live like I am grateful for His willingness to set me free. So, this is the perspective that a good life means having an option out of slavery and eternal death. That is the good life, that is abundance.

The second thing about the good life is that we don’t long to be back in the cage. We are glad to be out. Galatians 5:1 says, It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

It is obvious that we don’t want to live in a cage, yet if you’ve ever seen an animal that has lived in a cage all its life, they long to go back to what they are familiar with. The Bible says don’t go back to that, this is the good life even though it is uncomfortable, and you learn new ways of living. I hope you can see this life as good, abundant, and free.

Here is a way this happens in our family on a regular basis.

My son Jefferson has this interesting scale that he set up in regards to food. When he was younger, he wanted to know on a scale from 1-10 how healthy a food was, except that he had a hard time understanding what was at 1 and what was at 10. He decided instead, to substitute actual things for the numbers and would ask, “on a scale of sewage to kale how healthy is this food?” We laugh because if you are going to give any different answer than “sewage” or “kale” you have to have food in the middle for the other numbers, but there was no definition for any of those on his scale.

Gradually this became a family rating for anything.

For example, on a scale of sewage to kale how much did you enjoy that movie?

I think this is helpful in our discussion because sewage would be the death and slavery to sin, while kale is life. For most of us, anything we are experience in life doesn’t come anywhere close to a “death” rating, does it?

In fact, I would bet that the house you live in is great, especially if the alternative is death and slavery. Even a hut or something made from cardboard would be considered the good life if the alternative is death and slavery. The school that my kids are in, regardless of the things that I like or don’t like about it is the good life when the alternative is death and slavery. The food that we have, simply being fed is on the end towards kale as opposed to the alternative of sewage. My health, despite knee pain, blood sugar issues, growing older, and wrinkles is the good life.

The other end of the scale is death and slavery to sin. Everything that God has done for us is a gift, even the suffering, and pain. It doesn’t compare to what we deserved which is eternal death. When we follow God and the things He calls us to do, we know that they are not meant to trap us, but meant to show us His love. His plan, laws, commands, and recommendations are all a part of His goodness for us. Picture it this way: the good life for a child includes baths, healthy meals, getting plenty of rest, and exercise, but do our children see it that way? Not usually. If they follow these things, then they would reap great benefits, right? Things like health, order, feeling good, and being able to find things are blessings that come from the patterns of that good life. When they do not choose those patterns, and instead choose to ignore those recommendations of blessing, they reap infection, sickness, chaos, and difficulty enjoying their days. They are usually free to choose, but as the parent, we look on and long for them to choose the things that help them to make their life easier. We look on and wonder why they don’t pick the things that would make life easier. I think God looks at us like that, too. He sets things in His word to protect us, love us, and show us His goodness. We look on and think it’s a trap, but truly it is His love.

To sum up: the good life is getting to choose something other than eternal death and slavery to sin. The good life means we are delighted to be out of the cage and don’t long to get back in. The good life is when we follow the recommendations that God put in place for us, sharing in the goodness God gave, and loving other people. My question is, are you living the good life right now, even amid current circumstances? A lot of us are lonely and separated from friends and family. Do you see it as the good life, considering that the alternative is slavery and death? If not, I wonder what part of your perspective needs to shift today? How can you see this differently so you can share in the goodness of God and show other people as well?

By the way, during this time if you or someone you know can use some practical tips on how to handle the circumstances or are just looking for encouragement during a difficult time I encourage you to go on Facebook and join the Organizing and Encouraging Parents Group. It is a free group with lots of videos on there to encourage you and have helpful tips on school, food, household things.

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