Have you ever chased something in life, only to be disappointed when you finally get it? I know I have — and I know I’m not alone. This seems to be the experience of many people. We see a new toy, a different job, another lifestyle, and we fool ourselves by thinking that, “If I only had that!” then things would be so much different. If we only had that new grill, or that promotion, or that bigger house, then we would be happy, then we could really enjoy life. But the problem is, that “new car smell” only lasts so long, and we’re inevitably faced with the fact that changes in our circumstances don’t seem to satisfy us.
Jesus knew this, and he addressed it in the Gospel of John. He told his followers: “Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity” (John 12:25, NLT).
The interesting part here is that Jesus is talking about two different kinds of life. There are only two Greek words used for “life” in the New Testament: psyche and zoe. “Psyche” refers to physical life, the kind that’s consumed with our circumstances (our job, living situation, daily stresses, etc). But “zoe” refers to something deeper and more long-lasting: the eternal life that we’re welcomed into as Christians. We’re invited to share in Jesus’ own life, and in his relationship of faith, hope and love for the Father and the Holy Spirit. We’re invited into the circle of the triune life of the Eternal, and to begin to share in their fellowship and communion with one another. By the miracle of grace, we can begin to enter in while still remaining human and while we’re still living in what Paul calls “this present evil age.”
Jesus knew that a transformation of circumstances cannot satisfy us. Only a transformation of being, our being in relationship with God, can do that, and that’s exactly what he offers us: being at peace with God, receiving daily his forgiveness, his love and hope in his coming kingdom. By his Holy Spirit we have the opportunity to serve as channels of his grace and pointers to his coming kingdom. Jesus asks us to stop chasing psyche, and instead accept the wealth of zoe that he offers us freely.
So the next time you’re tempted to think, “If only I had…” about something that might only satisfy you temporarily, remember that Jesus offers us a better kind of life: the kind that lasts forever.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.