We all want to live the good life. It is what everyone is working for; striving for; pursuing. We want enjoyment. We want satisfaction. We want to love and be loved. This time last month, I was setting off on a trip to Sydney (without any kids this year!) to attend the OneLove Conference. This year, the KCC conference focused on Eternal Life- fixing our eyes on Jesus and living life with an eternal perspective.
Nancy Guthrie opened with the words, “The Good Life is what we want.”N. Guthrie, One Love: Talk 1, Eternal Life, 9th September, 2017. KCC: OneLove. I paused. Sometimes, I am more inclined to think that God wants life to be tough. That our desires for the ‘good life’ are sinful and wrong. Like Jen Pollock Michel, we “imagine desire and faith in a boxing ring, facing off like opponents. We don’t suppose both can be cheered at the same time… We easily dismiss desire, arguing that the goal of Christian life is obedience…” Jen Pollock Michel, Teach Us To Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith, 2014, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, But as Nancy went on, she opened our eyes to the fact that from the very beginning, God wanted to provide the good life for his people and he knew he alone could give them this.
In Genesis 2, we see that Adam and Eve were actually surrounded by goodness. God had planted a Garden full of beauty, displaying his creativity. He had given them a smorgasbord of food to eat. He had given them a purpose to work the land and tend to the garden. He had given Adam and Eve to one another, to love one another and multiply; he had even made the multiplication process enjoyable. God walked with Adam and Eve, talking with them, communing with them. God had planted the Tree of Life in the garden, all pointing to a life of goodness. Life was good. Adam and Eve had it made; they were living the good life.
But, as we know life didn’t stay all good. Instead of trusting in God and living the good life they had been given, the Serpent creeps in and suggests that God actually isn’t good, he is stingy. Immediately, Eve is lured in. She downplays all the goodness she has experienced of God and swaps the truth for a lie. Eve begins to think that God is actually withholding goodness from her. Eve doesn’t wait to chat things over with God as they walk in the Garden together, instead of waiting on his timing to reveal more, she looks at the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, reaches out and eats it, then gives some to her husband next to her.
As we read this part of history, oh how we wish Eve would see the futility of her choice. We want to reason with her, explaining that what she was doing was swapping God as her Sovereign, completely good and completely all-knowing; for Satan her Slave-master N. Guthrie, One Love: Talk 1, Eternal Life, 9th September, 2017. KCC: OneLove. We want her to make a different choice. Instead, she tastes of the fruit and spiritually, she died that day.
As I look out on my own life, and on the lives of the women I talk to, I see us being lured in as easily as Eve. Like Eve, we think God is withholding from us. When we struggle with infertility, we harbour resentment at God withholding the good life of parenting from us. When we struggle to pay the bills, we wonder whether God actually is capable of providing. When we look at our friend’s marriage that looks blissful and supportive, we wonder if maybe that man we share our bed with is actually God’s way of punishing our decisions. When we attend another friend’s wedding as a guest instead of the bride, we let bitterness creep in and the lie that God is withholding intimate relationship from us take root. Each of us, like Eve, get lured into believing the lie that God is withholding the good life from us.
But in the curse, there is a promise. There is hope for the good life. One day, an offspring of Eve would bring judgement to Satan, holding him accountable for the webs of lies he weaves. Through another tree, the cross, we can take hold of the One who resisted the lies, who died our ultimate death and who rose, conquering and crushing the Serpent. Apart from Jesus, we are forever cursed. But just as taking and eating brought death, so taking and eating the fruit of his death brings life and not just life but the good life.
Through Jesus, we see there is another tree in our future. In heaven, we will one day be completely renewed, completely freed from the curse of sin. In Revelation 22, we see that in heaven, there is the Tree of Life, where its leaves bring healing to the nations. Here, nothing will be cursed.
In the meantime, may we look to God’s word and see that he is about bringing us the good life. For real good life is more than a dress that makes us look slimmer, a friendship that makes us feel encouraged or a cup of coffee that makes us order another. The Good Life is found in Jesus, experienced today through hope and restored relationship, ultimately realised when we taste of the Tree of Life once again, seeing face to face the One who will not withhold from us.