There is a ritual we observe in our household at the end of many days.
One of us asks the other: Did you have a good day? What follows from one of our family members can be a brief or lengthy recount of what made the day good.
What makes a day “good” for you?
- I did well on a test at school
- My blood test came back “good”
- I got a raise
- I did not lose my job
- There was food on the table
- My child was not picked on today
- I stayed in my pajamas and binge-watched “Grey’s Anatomy”
- She/he said “yes”!
How about this — Are you living a good life? This question asks us to look beyond a few events in the waking portion of a 24 hour period. This is a much broader, deeper question we ask ourselves and others. And some of our answers can be kind of shallow. Is yours a good life?
This important question has been raised as long as there have been people. Ancient and modern philosophers keep coming back to it: What makes for a good life?
Seneca, a contemporary of the Christian apostle Paul, resonated somewhat with Christian ethics. He even was claimed as “our Seneca” by many early Church leaders. Here is what Seneca said about life:
Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if life is all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury, and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: We are not given a limited life, but we limit it, and we are not ill-supplied, but wasteful of it… Life is full if you know how to live it.
Good stuff — life is good when you know how to live it, when you are “well invested.”
By some accounts, Seneca’s contemporary, Paul, baptized Seneca. In the sixth chapter of his letter to the Romans (did Seneca perhaps read this?), Paul says of baptism with Christ Jesus… just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).
Paul rejoices in baptism and what it signifies. The good life — glorifying and enjoying God forever — has begun in Jesus Christ. Baptism means that we are new creations, empowered by God’s Spirit to live new lives. The good life is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
In the holidays ahead, we will be flooded with images of “the good life,” many of them urging conspicuous and beyond-copious consumption.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate seconds on turkey and dressing as much as the next person. However…
Jesus Christ gives himself fully for the world. Our risen Lord makes possible the indwelling Spirit that fills us and overflows from us, blessing others. The best life possible is made possible not by what we ingest or acquire but by the outpouring of our lives in love.
Simply put, following Jesus gives our lives purpose. His purpose makes life good.