THE GOOD LIFE
our eyes in countless commercials had to be revised, for now consumption had to be cut. Life has had to become more simple and more frugal. Does all this mean mean that the "Good Life" is over? Does a reduced standard of living mean the end of life that is meaningful? This may be true for some whose standards are shallow, but thinking people are everywhere realizing that scarcity of material things may be the means of bringing modern man back to his senses, back to a sounder set of basic life values.But materialism has convinced man that the luxurious, affluent life is the "Good life." To successfully confront the philosophy of materialism I would suggest that we would follow the admonition of Joshua to Israel as they began their life in the promise land. He said, "If it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river(Nile), or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord"(Joshua 24:15). Christians never lived on the Egyptian side of the Nile river, but we all have lived on the other side of baptism where we all served the modern god, The word of God says to Christians, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him"(I John 2:15). The love of the things in the world is what materialism is all about, and
Jesus summed it all up when He said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels and then He will reward each according to his works"(Matthew 16:24-27).
Long after Christ left the earth, His apostles were repeating His message against godless materialism. For example Paul wrote, "But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out. But having food and covering we shall be therewith content. They that are minded to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (I Timothy 6:6-12),One of the most powerful statements of Jesus against materialism is, "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom God."
Finally, the Christian in living "The Good Life in Christ is perpetually exposed to danger, and cannot be preserved without constant watchfulness and prayer. The Apostle Peter revealed a wonderful truth about "The Good Life in 2 Peter 3:17,18, "You therefore, beloved, since you know this before hand. beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked, but grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Peter tells us we can preserve "The Good Life by doing two things. We must grow in grace and we must grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The good life in Christ is like the natural life of humans, plants and animals. In natural life we begin as babies, grow into childhood and into full adulthood. We are to grow in the good life in grace which is the favor of Christ and in the knowledgeof Christ. The divine life in Christ, like that of plants and animals is mall at first and must grow until they become very great We must grow in faith, hop and love.We grow in knowledge by receiving the implanted word in hearts that is able to save our souls*
* This message is a reproduction of a sermon by Batsell Barrett Baxter, a Church of Christ Minister and preacher for the Herald of Truth Television program for many years till his decease.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, famous American poet and philosopher made this statement, , "Things are in the saddle and are riding mankind," He was speaking of hard times and the scarcity of material things. His words seem especially appropriate for America in the opening decade of the 21st century. Emerson's words are quite impressive, especially since he lived from 1803 until 1882 and necessarily made his comment two centuries ago. If in the day before the automobile, before the thousand-and-one labor-saving gadgets of our day, before the hustle and bustle of modern living, he could say, "Things are in the saddle and are riding mankind," how much truer his statement is today when America is suffering the greatest Economic recession since the Great Depression. People have lost their fortunes in the Market failures, have have lost their homes, their jobs, and "the good life" they have known most all of their life in America. Not only in America, but these hard times have hit Great Britain, Europe, Greece and most countries. . Is the "Good Life" which centers on material things really the good life after all?
It was late in 1973 that an historic moment for the whole western world arrived. Under the pressure of the international political situation, for the first time we had to come to terms with the fact of material scarcity. And it has arrived again. It has finally dawned upon us that our material resources are not in unlimited s
upply. The wor d sc arcity began t o appe ar in all the papers, and in the vocabularies of the newscasters. Our affluent society, the "Good Life," was in jeopardy.
We were the people who had gorged ourselves on the biggest automobiles in the world, the most expensive television sets and the biggest wardrobes. Since World War II, we had come to expect—and acquire—more and more. Even though we constituted only six per cent of the world's population, we consumed many times that much of the world's resources. It seemed that there was no limit to the good things of life. We could go on and on building our lives on the luxurious, wasteful consumption of the earth's bounty. When we tired of one thing, we could always acquire something else.
Then, suddenly, we learned that scarcity is here, and here to stay. The good life portrayed before
In these times when it is hard to find a job, run away inflation adds to people,s woes. Preachers are not the only ones talking this way. Journalists and TV commentators have been rushing past each other to speak about the uses of adversity. Living conditions have become a little more lean, but the lean life is not the good life to most Americans. We are greatly influenced by the advertisement industry. No use squeezing an orange when you can push a button and have it done for you! No use brushing your teeth by hand when you can employ a motorized brush! No use putting up with the inconvenience of heat and cold when we can avail ourself of year-round heating and air conditioning! No use being limited to three or four suits when you can buy large closets and fill them with clothing to match your every mood and fancy. Clearly the lean life is not the good life in America, however wisdom teaches that leanness of life may help us to be more thankful that life is as good to us as it is. Today most Americans have an expectation rate which they cannot fulfill. Advertisements have created such a a desire and appetite that most people find impossible to satisfy.
In America today, in spite of the recession, all sorts of possessions are possible for the vast majority. Modern day advertising, aided by the wider diffusion of wealth, have triumphed overus. They have made us all the more desirous of all these good things of life. They have convinced us that the good life consists in the abundance of the things that we possess. We have been convinced by television, radio and the printed page that a our life does consist of the multitude of our possessions. Most people in the world today have drifted toward materialism as a way of life, Materialism is the philosophical belief and view that physical things is the only reality in life, and that everything in the world can be explained in terms of earthly, physical things. The scientific view of the world is that comfort, pleasure, and wealth are the highest goals or values in life. Materialism is the philosophy that we should be more concerned with the material, physical things than in religious, spiritual or intellectual things. Materialism commands the hearts and lives of most people in the world. However, I agree with those thinkers who believe that today's scarcity and the threat of even greater scarcities may be one of the greatest blessings of our time. It may be that scarcity will help us achieve a truer, sounder set of values.
Materialism is quite a temptation for God-loving and Christ-loving people in the 21st century. It encourages man to have more and more desires and to do everything possible to fulfill those desires, whereas Christ teaches man tothat is what this passage is talking about. If materialism is not "The good life," what then is "The Good Life" according to God's word? First, the Lord Jesus has made it clear that "The Good Life" is not materialism, that is, the abundance of the earthly, physical, material things of life. Jesus said, "I am come that you might have life and that you might have it more abundantly." Jesus did cont come to give us physical life, for mankind had physical life life over 4,000 years before Jesus came. Christ came that He might give us life in all of its fulness. He came to make us rich toward God. The word abundantly means bountiful blessings overflowing in extent, that is a rich supply only deity can give. The Greek word used suggests the idea of a continuous overflowing, and never- ceasing blessing for every faithful soul. The more abundant life is spiritual life, not physical life. Psalm 33 says, "Rejoice in the Lord you righteous, for praise from the upright is beautiful. Sing to Him a new song for the word of the Lord, and all His work is done in truth. He loves righteousness and justice. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord." Jesus came to give mankind spiritual life. An abundant life is one that has God in it. An abundant life is a life of abundant quality, a life that has purpose and meaning. Someone said, " There is a God-shaped void in the heart of every person which only God can fill. When we find God and His Son Jesus Christ we have begun our entrance into "The Good life." Christ came to give us the good life. It can be had only in Christ. God made us in His own image He made us to be like Himself: intelligent, holy, righteous and just. To be in the likeness of God means that our lives are too important to be satisfied in life with mere physical things. The deepest need of man and woman is not food, clothing and shelter. We need those things, but they are not our deepest need. Our deepest need is God. When Jesus
said, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall see God. To be poor in spirit is to have a poor soul He came to give us a more abundant life, To be poor in our spirits is the feeling that something is missing in our lives; there is some need that has not been fulfilled. That which is missing in most people's life is God, and he will feel poor in spirit until he finds God and lives with God in His life. When Jesus said that He came to give life more abundantly , He meant that He came to bring God back into our lives whom we lost by our love for the physical world and the sinful things in the world.