Being content. Happiness. Fulfillment. Satisfied.
These are all words that have come into my journal the past two to three years. Not so much as I am these things, but more along the lines of will I have or will I attain these things. And more questions like “are we to be happy, are we to be fulfilled or satisfied with where we are (geographically, socially, emotionally, etc)?” I know I’m not the only one who has had to ask the same things, wonder about the answers or spend time reflecting on where I am at the moment. Iris, my friends and others have allowed me to sit in those questions, those sacred glances off into the distance of the past and future. And I wonder am I to ever be content? Am I ever to be happy? Am I ever to be fulfilled? Am I ever to be satisfied? At least “ever” being on this planet.
Ricky Gervais, the British comedian, whom I find really funny, is also an Atheist. He’s fairly outspoken about his faith and has disdain and critique of all religions, especially Christianity. I really do like his brash and honest comedy, I have read many of his quotes and thoughts on those who believe in Jesus. A few months ago, I read the following quote by him- “It’s a strange myth that atheists have nothing to live for. It’s the opposite. We have nothing to die for. We have everything to live for.”
I’ve reflected on his thought from time to time wondering if he is correct, if his premise and main notion is true. Do atheists have nothing to die for? Do they have everything to live for? What about those of us who follow Jesus, do we have nothing to live for and everything to die for?
I think Ricky is right. He, as faith in atheism, is right- he has nothing to die for. He has nothing, including himself, that he needs to die to or die for. It is totally up to him as to what he does with his life. Which is why he is right about the second part. He has everything to live for. Anything and everything he wants to do, he can try to do it. That is true. And in the end, he will have done everything that he may have wanted to do for himself that he possibly could.
But does his statement mean that for those who believe in Jesus the complete opposite is true? In other words, if we believe in Christ, we have everything to die for and therefore nothing to live for? In my opinion, not totally. I’ve been trying to figure out why this statement bothers me so much….I think I know why. Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” I searched and read and tried to understand why that quote bothered me so much. The idea that I have nothing to live for or nothing to die for really didn’t sit well with me. Praying through that, I realized why. If I, we, live for Christ, it’s a win for us as well. If we die for Christ, it’s a win for us as well. In my mind it looks like a win win. But I am biased. I realize that.
So, how does that fit into being content, satisfied, fulfilled and happy? I know of some people who say that this world is going to hell in a hand basket. “It’s ok, we’ll get it in the end living eternally with God,” is the comment given after some tragic event or negative thing that may happen. It’s almost a justification for us to accept being beat down, joyless and accepting that God doesn’t have something better for us. I’ve interacted with a lot of people as I have traveled and I am often saddened at the apathetic and defeatist mentality I have found in some of the believers I’ve engaged with.
We have the ability, when we are able to dig through all the layers of junk and dysfunction laying on us, we have the ability to be at incredible peace even though there may be massive chaos around us. This is a gift from the Prince of Peace for all those who follow Him. I am learning that I can be content in Christ, that He satisfies my every thirst. But I am not fulfilled unless I am being used by Him for the purposes He has created me to be apart of. Sometimes I need help in seeing where He is using me, exactly how He wired me. Sometimes I need to lean into the community around me, my support system, to gain perspective as to where He is using me in my giftings. It just may not look like how I envisioned it.
He calls us to Himself, to no one else, to nothing else. Simply to Himself. And as I follow Him, grow closer to Him, learn more from Him, the more I am learning that heaven is Heaven, but there is so much goodness, so many gifts, so much here that He has for me. We have everything to die for-eternity with Someone who loves us deeper than our wildest imagination. But we also have everything to live for-community, nature, compassion, joy and the list goes on. To simply wait for the end to come, when there are glimpses of it now that would be missed, well, that’s not really living, is it?
We have everything to both die and live for. Start living.
Have you found this to be true? In those moment you have chosen life as opposed to waiting for eternity, what was your experience?