See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
This day I call the heavens and the 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, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (NIV)
God is the supreme life-giver. God gave life at the beginning of the world. God gives life to each of us. God gives life to all the creatures and plants and amoebas and all the other little bits of living matter. God gives life. This is the physical life, the bodily existence I am talking about. But God gives more than that. God gives life that is worth living.
Life worth living is one that is connected to others in meaningful ways. Community is part of God’s design. In our creation stories, the ‘why’ of creation is more the issue than the ‘how.’ God created the heavens and the earth to enjoy. That means for God to be in relationship with. In Genesis 2, God created the animals to be companions to the man, but none of them seemed suitable, so God created the woman. Again, I don’t think any of this is literal. I believe it is TRUE however. It is true that animals can be companions for people but the very best companions are other human beings. Companionship gives life that is full and enjoyable.
A life that is worth living is filled with matters of the spirit. When a person loses their sense of purpose, they feel discouraged, they think their existence doesn’t matter, that nothing is worthy of attention or effort. It is pretty hard to want to go on living. Hope is gone. The life in a person evaporates and they feel as dried up as a bean seed in the bottom of a bucket. Nothing can grow there. There is no water or soil, the medium with which to coax it into life. Our connection to others gives us some of that, but the rest comes from having being tuned in on a moral compass, valuing that which is truly worthwhile, keeping priorities in order and living by a set of standards that make sense to you and are part of the shared values of the community that surrounds you.
God not only gives us the physical life we have, but the spiritual life we can draw on as well. The Torah is God’s revelation of how ‘the good life’ can really be achieved. The ‘good life’ can be had through obedience to the will of God, the structures God has set in place in this world through the Torah. When everyone keeps the law and the ordinances of God, their priorities will be in order. They will know the way between right and wrong. They will treasure that which is truly valuable and life-giving, and not be wooed by the false promises of the ways of the world.
Consumerism is the false god that tempts us so terribly these days. The promise that we will be more likable if we drive a certain car or wear a certain brand or have just one more widget, have a bigger house. It never stops. That’s the problem. One more never satisfies for long. It is a false promise. Those things don’t provide security or meaning or belonging in the long run. They satisfaction they provide in the short run is shallow and cannot sustain you.
Success is another elusive god of our culture. What does that even mean? Being the boss? Getting a corner office? Having a bigger paycheck than your colleague? The problem is, it is never enough. Even when you are the boss, someone is always the boss of you. There is always a bigger corner office to have. Bigger paychecks usually only end up meaning you have bigger debts and more pressure. When you meet someone who is satisfied with what they have, who is not striving for more, you know you have met someone who doesn’t worship at the altar of the world.
Keep God, the creator of all, at the top of the list. Honor God, the life-giver, in all that you do. Seek to do God’s will and follow the precepts of what God has ordained as good and it will give you life. It will not guarantee you a certain number of years, but it will give you life in the years that you get. It will not guarantee you any income at all, but it will give you the security to live in peace no matter what happens. It won’t guarantee you the acclaim of the public, but you will have the respect of those who matter to you.
Remember that you are loved. Remember there is nothing that can change God’s grace. God is for you not against you. Live in peace.
Blessings to you,
What are the false gods that tempt you? What is the empty promise that is offered? How do you resist them?
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.