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Copyright for the journal © 2005
M. S. Thirumalai
WHAT IS LIFE AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LIVE?
T. R. Lane
OUR TIME IS CONSUMED BY TELEVISION
Life is a funny thing. We rarely stop to reflect on precisely what it means to be alive and what it means to live. We all fall victim to the hustle and bustle of daily living. Any time we are left with tends to be consumed by television, radio, or some other form of convenient entertainment. My hope is that in the short amount of time that it will take you to read through this letter, you will have a greater desire to attempt to understand why it is that you are hurling through space on this revolving sphere commonly known as Earth. I do not pretend to have all the answers. However, what I do pretend to have, and hopefully actually possess, is the desire to seek out these answers. And it is this desire I wish to spark in you.
SO, YOU ASK, WHAT IS LIFE?
I once read a quote that stated, "Life is not about the number of breaths you take; rather, life is about the number of moments that take your breath away." There is something alluring about the romanticism expressed in this quote. Memories are important to the human experience. As I reflect back over my short life, memories have the potential of stirring an array of emotions. Certainly, however, life is not simply about memories or the number of moments that take your breath away. There is much more to life and a much higher calling to which we are to live our lives.
It is the creation account in Genesis where we find the origin of life:
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7 (KJV).
MAN AND HIS SOUL
It is interesting to note that man was not a living soul until after God breathed the breath of life into him. There is something important about this breath that God imported into lifeless bodies, the clay if you will. The Hebrew word for "breath" as used in this passage is neshamah (pronounced nesh-aw-maw). Neshamah literally means divine inspiration or intellect. Thus, returning to the passage, God "breathed into his nostrils divine inspiration and intellect; and man became a living soul." This breath that God first exhaled into humanity is directly related to the essence of life.
Life, then, is not simply about memories. Life is directly related to the divine inspiration and intellect that our Creator has instilled in all of us. To have life is to be inspired, divinely. However, such an inspiration would be of little use if we were not given the power to follow this inspiration. Hence, the second component of life, the intellect, is equally important. Intellect and the power to reason is what facilitates or ushers in the ability to achieve the divine inspiration that we have all been imprinted with.
ON DEFINING SIN
Unfortunately, however, we live in a world that is tainted by sin. "Sin," as you are well aware, is a three-letter curse word in our society. Our culture of relativism is spawning a society without morality. To use such a word as sin is to imply that there is an objective moral standard by which we should live our lives, e.g., the Holy Scriptures. This, of course, is precisely what I intend to convey. In the current status of our society, religion or religious viewpoints are considered strictly a part of the personal realm. That is, as long as you don't attempt to impose your beliefs on me, then everything is okay. Wrong. What society is really telling us is that your religious beliefs are okay if that's what works for you; but don't attempt to take it out of your personal sphere and certainly don't attempt to convince others of the truth of such beliefs. I, obviously, intend to do both.
Thus, it is sin that affects us all and what ultimately precludes us from truly experiencing life. That is, the effects of sin preclude us from experiencing the divine inspiration and intellect that God has bestowed upon us, or in us if you will.
HOW, THEN, DO WE GO ABOUT OVERCOMING THE EFFECTS OF SIN TO AGAIN RETURN TO THE LIFE GOD ORIGINALLY CREATED US FOR?
The New Testament sheds much light upon this very question. With the New Testament we have the emergence of the Messiah, the Redeemer, or as commonly known, Christ. Christ, of course, plays a central role in helping us to overcome the effects of sin and return to the life God intended for us.
He that hears my word, and believes on Him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. John 5:24 (KJV)
Here we find that if we believe in Christ and choose to follow him, we will not only pass from death unto life, but we will have everlasting life.
The Greek word for "life," as used in this passage, comes from the Greek word psuche (pronounced psoo-khay). Psuche is based upon the idea of breathe, or "to be refreshed." Hence, if we believe in Christ and if we begin to follow him, our life will be refreshed. This, of course, is an important concept given our current status. The effects of sin have tainted our intellect and divine inspiration (life). Thus, we need our life to be renewed, or refreshed if you will.
Only through Christ and the process of being "refreshed" that he presents can we live the life God intended for us. Thus, the Old Testament concept of life and the coming of Christ in the New Testament are inextricably intertwined. Absent Christ in our life, we really have no life. That is, Christ helps us to overcome the obstacles of sin that we are otherwise incapable of overcoming alone. What Christ restores or refreshes us with is not simply life, but life everlasting.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN THEN TO LIVE?
Now that we have some understanding as to what life is, we need to understand what it means to live. As should be no surprise, let us turn to Scripture to illuminate the meaning of what it means to live. In Luke we find precisely what it means to live:
Thou shall love the LORD thy God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself…. This do, and you shall live. Luke 10:27-28 (KJV).
Here, we have the prescription of the two greatest commandments (love God and love your neighbor) for how we are to live our lives. In order to fully carry out one's life (divine inspiration and reason) one must truly learn to live. That is, one must follow the two greatest commandments.
The Hebrew word for live is chavah (pronounced khaw-vah). Chavah means to declare or show. Thus, if we are to live within the full meaning of life, we must declare or show the two greatest commandments throughout our daily lives. Of course, this does not mean that we should carry around a literal copy of the two greatest commandments. Rather, through our actions and the way we conduct ourselves throughout our daily routines, the two greatest commandments should be apparent. This, like many things, is easier said than done. Nonetheless, at least we understand what life is and what it means to live. And it is this understanding that will guide our path as we venture to live life according to how God intendeds.
WHERE DO I FIND THE RESET BUTTON?
Now that we understand what life is and how we are to live, it is important to keep in perspective the nature of human existence. We live upon this beautiful planet but once. Our tenure here is short lived, at best. That is why it is imperative that we begin living life. Regardless of one's age or stature, it is imperative that we accept Christ (which refreshes our life) so that we can begin to live.
There is no reset button in the game of life. We are responsible for the choices we make. We are capable of receiving forgiveness for the choices that have caused us to fall into the shadow of darkness. Christ brings the hope and reminder that there is another side of day, the light. Unfortunately, therein lays the dilemma. For some it is pride, which inevitably erects a wall between repentance and forgiveness. Yet for others it is doubt. Doubt that God would actually forgive the multitude of my sins; or because I'm near the end of my life and God would not forgive me this late in the game. Regardless of your particular dilemma, Christ is the key that opens the gate, which leads to life as it was originally intended. Of course, the choice to insert the key and unlock the gate is yours.
The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God. Psalm 69:32 (KJV)
The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live. Psalm 119:144 (KJV)
The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few. Luke 10:2 (KJV)
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Ransomed for Blessing - 1 Timothy 2:5-6 | Work Out What God Works In | What Is Life and What Does It Mean to Live? | Importance of the 10/40 Window | A Roman Catholic Church Movie on HIV/AIDS In India | Some Points for Evangelism Among the Muslims | CONTACT EDITOR| HOME PAGE
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