There is room for simply enjoying life, for example, enjoying a trip to a place one has always wanted to see (like a national park) or visit (like a nation). Recently Deb and I had a wonderful getaway for our 30th anniversary to Ludington, Michigan, most noteworthy up there, the sand dunes. Though the bed and breakfast was great, as well as the eating places. For our 25th we were at Mackinac Island for nearly three days and two nights, just a wonderful time. We need times like that.
As followers of Jesus, we do need to take some time and rest, even get away, just as he tried to do with his disciples. Of course that was a unique time, and people soon found him, and the crowds kept pressing in. So it was evidently hard for them to get away, even though that was indeed Jesus’ intent. It won’t be so hard for us to do so, for sure.
Paul tells us that while we can enjoy the good things of life, we are to live in this time as if those things are temporary, living in view of the eternal, what will last:
What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
That is not an easy passage to interpret (or that chapter, for that matter). Though the main points are probably clear enough. The point here is that we’re to live with a sense of urgency and focus which is not about living it up in this life. We are to live as though this life is passing and will not remain, because that is indeed the case.
That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy good things of this life, of creation. But it does mean that we in Jesus actually can give up some of those good things. And for those of us who don’t, we need to live with what is eternal, what will last, as the priority of our lives.
But that can mean not only sacrifice within our enjoyment of the good things, but also a purpose which can extend to using those good things in a missional sense. We have to remember: all that is good is a gift and we are stewards of such gifts. So that we can enjoy our marriages, or a pastime (for many, it is sports), or something special (like some special coffee or brew) to the glory of God. Perhaps in simply giving thanks and praise to the God from whom all blessings flow. Or in creative, missional ways, being able to share something of that enjoyment and of our lives with others, so that ultimately they might see and find the love of God in Jesus for themselves.
And of course the life to the full that we do enjoy is the life in God through Jesus by the Spirit, the life that Jesus came to give. To be poured out into our lives so that it can overflow and spill out onto the lives of others. That they too may find the life that is truly life.