Wow, I sort of felt like Oprah when I penned the title of this blog post. I guess it is sort of vogue now to “live your best life.” And, truth be told, there can be some real danger in that philosophy. Part of it is right on: the idea that you’ve got just one life, so love fully and live vibrantly and seize the day. But it can also lead to major selfishness. And, I don’t know about you, but I don’t need any help being more selfish.
Jesus invites us to re-envision our life with this ironic invitation: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). And also this paradoxical promise: “Whoever wants to save their life will lose it but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:25).
Underlying our sense of identity and calling and our view of faith is this foundational principle: to find true life, we give up. We relinquish control, we give up the throne, we surrender our plans and desires and wishes. We ask God to take charge and to supplant our initiative with his vision for our life.
So we don’t live “our best life,” at least not in the way our culture asks us to. Instead we choose God’s “abundant life” (John 10:10). We willingly forego comfort, consumerism, and control. We choose God’s paradoxes over our own pampering and God’s best over our own beauty. We choose justice and mercy over entertainment and ego. Instead of building up our own marvelous little kingdom to live in, we claim our citizenship in God’s heavenly kingdom and aim to live by its radical, upside-down values.
And we do these things — we try, try, try with the Spirit as our guide — through God’s power and in reliance upon him.
And so we pray:
God help me resist the lure of a self-focused life. Help me see my life through the lens of your values and choose daily to put you first. Ultimately my life isn’t mine . . . it’s yours. Amen.