The Good Life

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Joe Tkach and Tammy TkachWe all want The Good Life, don’t we? But what, exactly, is it? For many, it’s about material possessions, money, security and opportunity.

Referring to the rap song “Good Life” by hip hop artist Kanye West, the Urban Dictionary offers this definition of The Good Life:

Living life drama and worry free. Do your thing, be thankful for what you have, and take full advantage of everything you do have while still improving on your situation. The Good Life usually consists of being healthy, having confidence, having fun, partying and hooking up with sexy girls but varies from each person. Try not to become jealous of other people and don’t make a big deal out of everything in life. Just live your life, have fun, be positive, and you will be living The Good Life. [1]

Tony Bennett (Wikimedia)
Tony Bennett (Wikimedia)

Composers Distel and Reardon addressed The Good Life in a song by that name, popularized by singer Tony Bennett. Here are the lyrics:

Oh, the good life, full of fun
Seems to be the ideal
Mm, the good life lets you hide
All the sadness you feel

You won’t really fall in love
For you can’t take the chance
So please be honest with yourself
Don’t try to fake romance

It’s the good life to be free
And explore the unknown
Like the heartaches when you learn
You must face them alone

Please remember, I still want you
And in case you wonder why
Well, just wake up
Kiss the good life, goodbye

Plato and Aristotle (Wikimedia)
Plato and Aristotle – detail of “The School of Athens” by Raffaello Sanzio, 1509 (Wikimedia)

Of course, the ultimate answers to life’s big questions are not found in song lyrics. We also understand from life experience that material possessions are not what make life “good.”

The question, What constitutes The Good Life? is not new. The ancient Greek philosophers pondered the question. According to historian Arthur L. Herman, Plato and Aristotle disagreed on the answer, leading to the founding of two schools of thought. Plato’s Rationalism defined The Good Life as consisting of “ideal forms” such as truth, justice, beauty and goodness. Aristotle’s Empiricism defined it as possessing knowledge that is gained through experience. Both philosophers taught that The Good Life comes from the contemplative life of the mind.

But what does the Bible say?

The prophet Micah wrote this: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 ESV). God gave Micah this prophetic insight during a time when calamity and exile awaited Israel. This pivotal passage tells us that living life with fairness and kindness, in humility before God, is the basis of The Good Life.

Interestingly, the Greek philosophers agree with the biblical wisdom that The Good Life has nothing to do with material possessions. Instead, it’s about possessing knowledge that then is rightly applied in relationship to the world around us. But the Bible adds a vital insight: The Good Life has God at its center. It’s about possessing the Word of God made open to us by the Spirit of God. Karl Barth said it this way:

The hearing of the Word of God the creator, which makes human life to become Christian life, is not man’s work but God’s: the Holy Spirit’s work. Just as our spirit cannot produce the Word of God, so too it cannot receive it… A sheer miracle must happen to him, a second miracle in addition to the miracle of his own existence, if his life shall be a true Christian life, which is a life within the hearing of God’s word. This miracle is the office of the Holy Spirit. [2]

The Good Life is life centered on the Living Word of God, who as its Creator and Redeemer, has a foundational relationship with all of life. Thus The Good Life is not something that is bought or sold. It is not about a transaction of any sort. Rather, it’s about being in a personal relationship with the very Source of life. In that relationship, we are freely given God’s own kind of life. It is sent to us from the Father, through the Son and in the Spirit. And we receive that life as we surrender in worship by the Spirit, through the Son, to the Father. And that relationship of worship to God bears fruit in all of our other relationships, expressing itself towards others in a spirit of justice, kindness and humility.

Jesus (his being and his acts) constitutes The Good Life. And by grace, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we are given to share that Life with Jesus. In him, we are alive. In him, we have life eternal. This is ultimate reality. This is The Good Life!

Sharing The Good Life with Christ and with you,
Joseph Tkach

[2] Karl Barth. The Holy Spirit and the Christian Life: The Theological Basis of
Ethics, pages 10-11.

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