Living Life to the Fullest
The desire for fulfillment is universal. From the moment we are born we recognize within ourselves an insatiable hunger for more of life. We try to grasp onto every experience, enjoy every relationship, and maximize every opportunity. Yet even as we strive to fill our lives to the brim with adventures, we are never fully satisfied.
You don’t have to look too far before you run into a myriad of quotes on the topic of living life to the fullest. Carpe Diem translates from the Latin into Seize the Day and appears everywhere from graduation presents to plaques. Living a full and satisfying life is at the top of our inborn priorities, and yet it seems to be a goal that is impossible to reach completely.
Insatiable by Design
It is not a matter of chance that humans not only seek to survive but actually thrive. This desire to live rather than simply exist is what separates us from animals, and it is one of the many ways in which God made human beings unique. We were created with the ability to feel emotions, and the hunger to grow and learn because we were created by God in his own image. God is the creator, source and definition of life and it is these characteristics of him that cause us to be creative and drive us to live enjoy and treasure life.
Where’s the Disconnect?
If we were created by God himself to live fulfilling lives, why do so many of us feel like we are running on empty? And why does it seem like most of the time religion hurts rather than helps the cause of a life fully lived? Though we were created by God to live lives that are rich and satisfying, they can only be made complete by a relationship with Him. The Bible says that, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
God gave us many things which are pleasurable and which he made to enjoy, but their sole purpose was only ever to point us towards him. Without this relationship, every experience is dulled by being limited to itself. It no longer satisfies its original purpose – to point us towards the Creator who imagined it.
He engrained in our hearts the knowledge of a reality much greater than our temporal existence. When we expect to live completely fulfilling lives without God, we expect something of life that it was never designed to do.
A life to the fullest is a life that is characterized by being in relationship with Jesus, because he himself is the definition of life. John 14:6 identifies Jesus as the life. It reads, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Christ is not only the life but he is also the truth and the way in which we can have a fulfilling relationship with God the way we were designed to. We cannot pick and choose which parts of Jesus we accept and which we don’t. Just in the same way that we cannot choose to be in relationship with certain parts of any individual, we cannot live with Christ fully if we do not accept him as the truth and the way, as well as the life.
What does Truth and Way mean exactly?
Accepting Christ as the truth and the way means appropriating Christ’s ways as our own ways, and recognizing him as the source of all truth. This is not a popular choice. Instead, we naturally prefer to have control of our lives and create our own definitions of right and wrong. This is evident in the prominence of brokenness in our world resulting from our poor choices. It is these choices that the bible defines as sin.
Sin translated from the Greek means “missing the mark.” God created us to have a full satisfying life filled with his presence. We miss the mark when we live any other way than in unity with God. However, we are unable to experience this unity because we have chosen another path rather than God’s.
Sin is not a recent phenomenon. When Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, they chose their own version of life and thus sinned. They traded in the truth of God, his perfect mark, and instead bought into a lie of independent living that could never fulfill its false promise of freedom.
As we see and experience now, this life apart from God turned out to be not life at all but instead brokenness. It is similar to that of a child who desires the freedom to run into traffic. In their eyes they are living more fully when they run freely, but the parent knows that this kind of “full living” results in death.
Romans 6:23 explains this in spiritual terns, “For the wages of sin is death.” The wage we deserve for our choice to live outside of God’s will for us is death: eternal separation from God and everything that is good. This is what is often understood as hell. However, these negative consequences affect our experience of life here on earth too, causing brokenness and in a very real sense spiritual death.
And so we have our world, a series of hit and runs, where we run freely to gain freedom, but end up paying with our entire lives. The life that Christ offers us is spiritual life. Christ’s life allows us to be re-united with God the Father who created our lives and desires to show us for what purposes he gave us these lives. It is here that we can leave behind empty lives of striving and instead experience satisfied lives that are full of purpose and meaning.
How does Christ restore our relationship with God?
As we’ve already discussed, our attempt to independently live from God results in the natural consequence of spiritual death. However, God desires life for us to such a great extent that he made a way through Christ for us to have that life restored. The second half of Romans 6:23 tells us that though “the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
John 3:16 is also another popularly quoted passage in the Bible, and it is so for a valid reason. It tells us that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Jesus Christ, God’s Son was both fully God and fully human. He was able to live a life in perfect unity with God because he lived it in perfect obedience to him. Unjustly, Christ was crucified on the cross, a perfect God sacrificed to cover the wages of sin we deserve. At the same time Christ is able to welcome us into life because he himself did not stay surrendered to death. Three days after Christ died on the cross he rose again, and was resurrected to life.
What’s my part?
Christ’s death and life means we do not have to give up our physical lives, but it does mean we must make an active choice to surrender our right to live independent lives of sin, and instead accept and welcome God’s way of life.
This requires us to confess to God that we have chosen to live apart from him, and to commit to live a life dedicated to him. It is here that can accept Jesus’ gift of having lived and died on our behalf before God, and acknowledge that this is the only way our relationship with God can be made right. He must not only be the guide (or Lord) of our lives, but also our Saviour from a spiritual death and slavery to sin.
Does this mean I’ll always be happy?
Happiness is one of the many emotions that we have been given by God and we can accept it as one of his good gifts. However, like any other emotion it is dependent on circumstances and can quickly vanish. It fades when your child becomes sick, when the career of your dreams turns out to be the world’s worst job and when you age at an ever increasing speed.
God may not guarantee us constant happiness when we begin a relationship with him, but he does promise to be an ever flowing source of joy. Joy knows and reminds us that our security is in our restored relationship with God and the eternal life he has promised us. It comes with knowing God and is based on his faithfulness.
There comes a choice:
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 holds a challenge that each of us must respond to, “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life.”
Where are you today? Are you ready to allow God to be your life?
If you are, the final step is a prayer asking God to come into your life and make you the person he wants you to be. Prayer is just talking to God. There is no right or wrong way to do it. God is not concerned about the words that you choose. He cares about the state of your heart. He hears you, the words aren’t that important. This is a suggested prayer you might want to use if you’d like to begin a relationship with God.
Jesus, I want to know you personally. I know that I am a sinner and that nothing I could do can make up for that. Thank you for dying in my place and paying the price for my sin. I know that my sin doesn’t separate me from God anymore. Thank you for forgiving me. I know that you love me and that I will spend eternity with you. I want you to be my Savior. Come into my life and take control, make me the person you want me to be.