And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. – Philippians 4:8
Live Like You Mean it!
Wednesday evening my mid-week men’s group wrapped up our study of 10 Life-Charged Words; next up is Max Lucado’s outline of the Gospel of John. The summer turned out to be a good series of conversations around what I consider a critically important topic.
That topic is, “The challenge to live as if we mean it” (p. 153). Or, the best witness is a vibrant, love-saturated life.
We put the study to rest by talking about Henry David Thoreau’s contention that, “The mass of [people] lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation” (Walden, 1854).
We wondered if it is valid to characterize other people’s lives in this way? Such dismissive conclusions about others often fuel what I call a “self-congratulatory” disposition, where everyone else always falls short; unless, that is, they adopt our particular beliefs, agree with our values, join our church/denomination/religion etc.
“Too bad about you sad people who have to work for a living,” Thoreau seems to be saying; “you should be like me, writing all the time and living on a nice pond…” Of course the philosopher/writer did hike into town once a week so his mother could do his laundry!
So we talked about what “lives of quiet desperation” might look like and soon realized that as followers of Jesus a better conversation would be around sharing what makes our lives so full, and vibrant, and rich, and meaningful.
- as followers of Jesus a better conversation would be around sharing what makes our lives so full, and vibrant, and rich, and meaningful.
Don’t judge, just shine!
This fits with my consistent assertion that faith in Jesus isn’t about judging others and condemning their lives, but – instead – about inviting them into something beautiful that we are experiencing as alive and demonstratively vital.
“The ideas discussed (in the ten chapters) represent a life defined by fullness. Life-charged people are people who let their song find its voice. Or, expressed in another way, the content of [our summer discussion] concerns the process of letting life loose” (p. 153).
Later in our conversation we examined the idea that, “Our world is hungry for good news!” We talked about the sad truth that news outlets (newspapers, television, radio, on-line media…) tend to amplify negative stories and leave what is positive unreported, or underreported.
But it seems that the public’s demand for controversy is insatiable. We complain about the negative slant and yet we will not purchase/fund/subscribe to what we say we want to hear!
If (for example) I wrote inflammatory posts with offensive headlines I could quickly quadruple my readership. But my mission as a writer has been clear since I first started with the Tampa Tribune: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).
I believe this reflects our imperative as witnesses to the Good News about Jesus. Here is how it was described in the conclusion:
“Our opportunity and our responsibility as followers of Jesus is to live in such a way that light and life spill out from us from the moment we wake up every morning and invited Jesus to live through us… (p 154).”
Each of us, as life-charged followers of Jesus, tell the truth about the gospel of love simply by being, and by living like we mean it – because God certainly meant/intended something wonderful when we were imagined, created, and gifted to this hungry world.
This is our invitation, this is our opportunity, this is our message – DEREK