Friday, March 16, 2012

The Good Life

     What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
James 2:14-17

     Everyone wants to live the Good Life.  No matter who or what you are, the Good Life is still out there just waiting to be lived.  But what is the Good Life?  Googling "good life" gives you 1,470,000,000 results.  So many different definitions makes it hard to just choose one. Is it being rich and famous?  Is it finally getting that dream job?  Or maybe its taking that trip that was only dreamed about.  Or perhaps, its the complete opposite.  Maybe the "good life" is harder than we thought.  I've been going to Beth Moore's "James" study on board and recently she just had some thoughts about the "good life" : that the "Good Life" is one that saves us from ourselves, one with a track record of yielding, one that is full of mercy, and one that is full of good fruit.

     Ok, so great ideas but how does that work out in the real world?  In church we can sit and listen to the sermon, nod our heads, agree, talk to our other churchie friends and say how much it touched our hearts, remember a few key points that stuck out to you to talk about in Small Groups, and then continue on as before.  There is a difference between being touched by something and being changed.  I'm working on the changing, but it is so much more work...

      So first up is the saving us from ourselves, Jesus saved us from our sins, but the rest of the changing requires more effort from ourselves.  "What good is it...if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?"  Talk is just that, talk.  Doing is so much harder because it requires effort.  Ugh, work.  Who wants to do that? I do. It needs to be done, no matter how much I try to deny it or cover it up.

      Next up is yielding.  A synonym is submitting.  Now that second word carries some heavy baggage.  Because in America we are in charge of our destinies and we decide and we can control, if you submit to someone you are regarded as weak.  But what about submitting or yielding to God? I know, scary thought, even though its practically the focus of every other sermon.  That takes some faith.  How about another spin on that? What if yielding to God included yielding to someone else?  Think about a real-life yield sign.  What is expected when you are merging onto a highway? If someone else is coming full speed, you should slow down and let them pass, you would yield to them.  Think about the person who you always seem to be in competition with.  What would happen if you slowed down and said "Go!"? Yielding isn't easy, its real tough.

    Third characteristic of the "good life" is one that is full of mercy.  Now, I know that I'm in Africa and I should be the perfect example of being full of mercy.  PUHLEEZE.  I ain't nowhere near that.  Yes, I am living in one of the poorest nations in West Africa, but I am also living on a ship.  The ship is more of a hiding place, a refuge, an escape from reality.  I have to push myself to get off the ship, to get out into Africa.  I can walk through the markets and streets and try not to see reality.  True, I can't help everyone I see, but I can acknowledge their existence.  A smile, a touch, a "bonjour" or "bon soir" can make them feel as if they aren't invisible.  Invisibility can be hell.  Back in America helping someone on the side of the road, offering a friend a ride, paying for someone's meal or fuel is an act of mercy.  But if you are unable to help out in that way, acknowledge the need.  Let the person know that their problem has been noticed or that you'd love to help but can't.  Dignify them with notice.  If you don't know what to do, err on the side of mercy.

   The result of all the previous characteristics is that your life will start producing fruit.  Not all fruit will be easy or fun to produce, but in the end it is so worth it.  Once I had an assignment to write down goals for my future, and one of them was that I would live with as few regrets as possible.  My dream is to live each day to the fullest and at the end of the day to not regret not helping someone or not speaking to someone who needed it.  Impossible dream?  Psh, nothin' is impossible, some things may just be a bit more difficult than others.  What it all comes down to is: how bad do you want it? What good will your life be?


  1. Great write up. Keep on living a life that you won't regret

  2. Sounds like the Lord is growing in you some real good fruit! Thanks for the challenge to think about what the good life really is.