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Keith Wishum: In pursuit of the good life

When the Century 21 sign went up, the neighbors were shocked. When the Allied van pulled up to the curb, they were speechless. The couple seemed to have it all. Nice home, good health, and financial stability — they were living the good life. Why would they leave?
And at their age! Al was 75, Sharon 65. This was a time to be sitting on the porch, not traipsing off. Of all the fool notions! Al even admitted that he didn’t know where they were going! Imagine that! Claimed that God told him to go. Said he had been promised a better life.
Hard to imagine doing that? Think again. You might not leave your home for an undisclosed destination, but aren’t you already on a quest for the good life? The careers we choose, the mates we marry, the houses we build, and the cars we crave — aren’t they all part of a pursuit of some vague, elusive, and undefined “good life” we seek?
It surprises some to learn that Jesus never suggested that we give up that pursuit. In fact, he promised to help us find the good life. His first recorded sermon opens with a series of short statements about being “blessed” — a term that incorporates this idea of living the good life (Matthew 5:2-11). Nine times he says, “Here is how to be blessed — to find that good life you want.”
Oh, there is no denying that he redefined the good life and how to find it, but we urgently need to understand that Jesus’ teaching was never intended to deprive us of fun. He came to give to us, not to take anything away from us. “I have come that they might have life and have it to the full,” he promised (John 10:10).
It wasn’t a new idea. It was what God promised Al and Sharon (real names: Abraham and Sarah) long ago. There would be sacrifices to be made — like leaving home, but the value of the promised land would far exceed any price they paid. And so it is still.
“Now faith is the turning of dreams into deeds; it is betting your life on unseen realities … For anyone who is serious about the God-life, must stake everything on the fact that God is and that he amply rewards those who make him their quest” (Hebrews 11:1, 6 CPV).

Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church of Christ, Americus.