By Brandon Lemons
How would you define “the good life”? A life of leisure? A life where you are satisfied with what you have and live in harmony with those around you? A life where it feels like you are making a difference in the world? A life where you work hard to succeed so then, once you are a success, you will be able to do the things you really want to do? There are many variations of how people would define “the good life.” But a question that has been burning in my mind recently is: “What role does God play in ‘the good life’?”
How would you answer this question: “What role does God play in ‘the good life’?” This question has been spurred in my mind by a book by Andrew Root called The Congregation in a Secular Age. It’s not a book I would recommend broadly (largely because it’s written for people in vocational ministry), but it has many points that are relevant to all of us – especially about the speed of life. Andrew Root writes: “We sense the only way to live a good life is to live a fast life, a life that keeps pace with all the change and opportunity before us.”
I’ve been thinking about how easy and common it is to define “the good life” without any reference to God. Even for people who identify as Christian, God is often treated as an afterthought or accessory – something that is nice but isn’t essential for the good life. We are particularly prone to this when we are moving so quickly that we are just trying to stay afloat.
The reason I am writing these things now (rather than letting them marinate for another few weeks before sharing them publicly) is because the church is starting a new season of ministry this weekend. We will be resuming our two-service schedule and classes this Sunday, and other opportunities for spiritual growth (iGnite, Midweek, small groups, etc.) will resume soon thereafter. I agree with Andrew Root that the pace of life frequently leaves us feeling weary, struggling just to keep up. In the midst of the urgent demands of life, the things that are important (including God) often get left behind.
Because of this, I encourage you to make sure God is a big part of your definition and pursuit of “the good life.” More specifically, that He is the central part, for as Jesus said, the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:37).
Here is how the Sunday-morning classes help participants live the good life as God intended.
· Children’s and student classes give young people a strong foundation in Scripture and in the Gospel. How can we expect them to build a healthy, God-honoring life if their foundation is weak? In Friedens’ ministry, Sunday School is the primary place where children and teens dig deeply into the Bible. iGnite and Midweek are great places for young people to learn about biblical topics, but Sunday school serves the purpose of taking children and teens much deeper into Scripture – giving them a solid foundation on which to build their lives.
· The two adult classes being offered starting this Sunday are valuable in helping adults grow in centering their lives on God. Digging Into Scripture is designed to help participants gain confidence, competence, and enjoyment in understanding and handling the Bible for themselves. If we want God to be central in our lives, digging into Scripture regularly is key! The other class, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, directly addresses one of the core problems that plagues people’s spiritual lives today: hurry. As Dallas Willard says: “Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life in our day.”
People will inevitably live in a way that attempts to achieve their interpretation of “the good life.” I pray we will seriously consider how God can be more than an accessory (or, worse, a non-factor), but rather be central in shaping and guiding the way we live.