Monday, September 26, 2011

Are you in the correct lane? Part 4

As I understand it, Simon and Garfunkel were sitting in a car, smoking pot, when listening to the first radio broadcast of their music. Apparently, the ecstasy of living an accomplishment few would know wasn’t sufficient enough that it had to be supplemented with drugs.

During a recent business trip, I watched a program where a person was attempting to scale the north-face of the Eiger without ropes. His reason for this, as is likely the same motivation for all similar stunts, is perhaps paraphrased as follows: “I feel most alive when I confront certain death head-on.”

A few weeks ago I watched one of my favorite films, Doctor Zhivago. As always one of many scenes covering the sordid antics of Victor Komarovsky caused me pause. Specifically, he had been having an affair with a widowed business woman, and then decided to move in on her beautiful daughter. Upon learning this, the widow attempted suicide by swallowing iodine. Komarovsky, fearing a scandal, called a professor from the medical school to discretely handle the case. Now, what I would like us to note from this all too real fictional situation is what the professor tells the young Zhivago after the two of them save the widow's life: “He [Komarovsky] knows life; he had a scare, tonight, though.”

Jesus tells us that he came to give us life, and life to the fullest. We immediately know from this that whatever we mean by life falls far short of what God intended for us. And because He loves us so much, He came to dwell with us in order to restore us to true life.

Perhaps you don't agree, and hold up the above-mentioned people in support of your position. I propose that none of those people, nor those they might represent, have experienced the abundant life Jesus promised us. True life involves achievements, to be sure; but such achievements require no augmentation. The life God wants for us is so rich, multifaceted, compelling, and unending,we need not trick it out to assure ourselves it's real or sustain interest in it. And the life that Christ has redeemed us thrives through the power of God's love working in a community, not selfish-ambition.

I submit that this true and abundant life that God created us for in the beginning, and in later times came to restore, can only be lived by authentic human beings—people who stay in the correct lane.

As we have learned, an authentic human knows his/her true identity, so he/she seeks to please God first by making his/her unique contributions to His kingdom. And this is fully gratifying and thoroughly satisfying to the person because his/her accomplishments resonate perfectly with whom he/she is; the person lives life to the fullest.

A good example of this is my wife. She works with children with autism. And even though there are numerous challenges, she is fulfilled by her work, and is, as she often says, in her element. She is one of those fortunate ones whose kingdom work is also their vocation. But the key to her success is she seeks to please God and therefore serve others instead of herself.

Most of us struggle with finding our identity because we look for it within ourselves; we do this most often on the basis of other people’s expectations, our own whims and romantic ideas, and, sometimes, desperation. I cannot possibly know for sure, but great talents such as Simon and Garfunkel may have found their element—many like them may not be that far from whom God created them to be--only never fully apprehended it because their focus has been on themselves rather than glorifying God. It’s an observation, not a judgment; I just know how much my own dissatisfaction in my own life—something I struggle with to this day--has been because too much of my self has gotten in the way.

Only by pursuing our creator fully and singularly can one hope to find one’s place in the kingdom, and know true fulfillment. And such fulfillment is perfectly satisfying because we are a part of something outside of ourselves.

The full life that Jesus promises is also not living to die. To attempt to intensify life, to experience a full life, by tempting death is totally self-serving. True courage is facing death for the preservation of life, not to see life as a cheap commodity that somehow gains value when we are willing to toss it away. Authentic humanity was created to live, not die. Besides, the authentic human is too caught up in the splendor of true life to ever question its reality.

Finally, the full life Christ promises is realized in a community—the kingdom of heaven. True life is first seeking to please God, and in so doing, celebrating and promoting others ahead of ourselves. This is axiomatic of the kingdom: to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and then love others as God has loved you.

Komarovsky and the human race with him have sought to live by manipulating and exploiting others. His ilk supposes to find fulfillment by making and breaking alliances, moving in and out of marriages, cheating others in business deals, withholding their property when others are in need, playing one against the other, bearing false witness, betraying others, and on and on. Such are the lifestyles of the dead, not the truly alive authentic human. We know this is true because Komarovsky feared only for himself at the widow’s brush with death.

Jesus came to restore authentic humanity, to bring life, and life to the fullest. This means being who we were created to be, preserving and valuing life at all costs, and being kingdom dwellers--all through the power of God, for His glory. Therefore, we can only live life to the fullest by sharing in the Divine nature. And sharing in the Divine nature, we not only live life to the fullest, but live forever, because God is.