The response to that question is as varied as the types of people out there. Yet, the truth is as singular as the context it’s viewed in. For word count in this article, I’ve given only scripture references for you to read yourself, your choice. Be sure to read what’s around each reference, or you may not get the gist.
What is life? Some people would respond by showing you all the things they’ve gathered through their hard work. The idea being, these things reflect their interests, personal investment of time, money and attention. (i.e. their house, car, motorcycle or quad, or maybe their boat too.) (Matt 6:21) Others share their gun or bow collection, high-end fishing gear and even some trophies they’ve mounted on their walls. Some may show you their special car, or the latest tech with its massive computing capacity, or their quadcopter and onboard video device, or the latest sort of virtual device. Then, some like FPS or RPGs, and on go the collections, all demonstrating they define life as an abundance of things. (Luk 12:15) But where is the benefit for others in the pile of gain?
A different type explains they have invested wisely. Their evidence, RSPs, stocks, bonds and/or a burgeoning investment portfolio. These come in two focused groups.
Firstly those, who do this, desire to be independent of, or removed from others. Imagining a life of little interaction, maybe sailing, jet-setting, or to the extreme, living in a wonderful retreat, untouched by human intervention in their retirement. Their goal, to be no longer touched by others. But in this blessing, where is the investment which helps the rest along their way? (Matt 7:18-24)
The second basic group gather their wealth and security financially with the idea of engaging with others, through money, to influence others. This can lead to wanting to control others through the illusion of promised gain. (Mar 10:42) Is life only for ourselves? This codependent cycle uses others in servitude, and can even dominate others further out in the concentric rings of power, so they will produce more gain for the holder of the key. This is their investment philosophy. As an industrial economic influence, shareholders and owners may get more while paying less to workers, or when government gains more tax revenue while offering less in service. So where is the dignity or progressive benefit for others; what about our neighbour?
However, our present provincial government has given to the nth degree and is still moving to promote and encourage, by their real monetary investments, solutions for education, the agricultural industry and jobs in tech areas during the present Covid crisis. Just thought I’d point it out.
But back to the question. What is life? We haven’t mentioned the fight against age and compromised health. A focus which has taken on a greater proportion of people’s attention in recent times, and understandably so. However, no matter how much we attempt to stall the ravages of time, age comes upon us all. Those who challenge themselves physically: racing fast, climbing high, swimming wider challenges, and even advancing far in organized sports are certainly having an exhilarating time of it. Yet, in its inevitable climax, they too have to face time. The idea of being superior physically, or even mentally or emotionally is redundant in the end. (Luke 18:10-14)
Those who try to defy or never give a thought to their mortality are trying to write a check their ‘body’ or brain can’t cash. But it does leave, at least a temporary after-shadow on a few following generations, so that’s something. This is the end for their investment.
But where is the actual solution for our mortality? Is it just an exercise in denial, a playing out of a mere formula, before it touches any of us? The ratio formula being: health regimen, which includes: proper food intake, exercise, watching environmental exposure to harsh components (i.e. chemicals, radiation, problematic relationships, job stress and political climate), plus a healthy psychological response to all this; multiplied by DNA potential; divided by the effect of time on all life on earth. Sounds depressing, but it is this life, so we need to find purpose in it all.
There is an adage, which says, “We should live to benefit others along our way.” (Volpe Verte) Don’t be discouraged from these pursuits, as they have their place when we help others along our way, while avoiding any compulsive pitfalls. But none of them are actual life; they are reflections, distractions, or tunnel visions along the road.
I believe this life is given as a trial period, with which we can learn what actual life is about and bless others while getting it. Of course I’m speaking of eternal life; you know, a permanent life.
Death and taxes get us all. Taxes get us in the middle of life, and death is the ultimate tax for how we’ve lived inside our hearts. No matter how we move the numbers around, like doing taxes, it’s not a game; we shouldn’t cheat our government and we can’t cheat death. (Matt 22:21; Mar 12:17; Luk 20:25) The end is similar; we wind up cheating ourselves. (as in Mat 16:26)
Here’s some context, let’s say our parents left us with an investment, but the attempt left a great debt (much like gross national debt bites us all personally), and if we go on the same way, this debt is compounding and growing.
The Bible says, “the wages of sin is death,” but there is a counter statement in the same verse, “but the free gift of God is eternal life [once we are living] in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 6:23)
Imagine that, an eternal debt relief program! Physical monetary debt, social debt, moral debt, all levelled in the great plan of a gift, of eternal life in Christ. When God came in the flesh, He came to cancel debt.
Do you have life insurance, and in that is there assurance for all of existence, real life? I’m with Jesus Christ Mutual Life, and the dividends are all paid. By the way, you can invest yourself in His plan as well.
To paraphrase actor Paul Hogan in Crocodile Dundee, “That’s a LIFE!”