Psalm 122, John 17:12–19, Revelation 2:8-11
Definitions are very important. Whether it’s theology, politics, or general conversation, having the same definition for a word is key to communicating. On top of that, there are cultural expectations and presumptions where two people can agree on a definition, but then disagree on how it is actually lived out. Have you ever had that experience? You are talking with a person, you both seem to agree on the definition, but by the end of it you realize that while the definition is the same, you both ended up completely differently?
Why are we talking about definitions? What is the Very Good Life? That depends. The whole starting point of the Very Good Life defines the actual living of the Very Good Life. For the world, it mostly is stuff and “happiness”. For those who follow other religions, their religion helps them to understand what the Very Good Life is (this is not going to be a comparative religion discussion). From a Christian point of view, the Very Good Life starts with Jesus Christ. It is not our salvation, our continued growth in holiness (sanctification), it is not attending church weekly. It isn’t that these activities are bad (they are, in fact, very good), but none of them exist without Jesus Christ.
This prayer of Jesus’ is both a prayer to the Father and a lesson for the disciples. Jesus asks the Father to protect his friends and followers. It gets very interesting when Jesus asks that his (Jesus’) joy be completed in them, and then we get to the world hates (and hated, and will be hating) them. What? Complete joy and the world hates it. Think about God’s perspective. Full and complete Godly joy results in the world hating them (and us). How is this the Very Good Life? It’s not from the world’s point of view. God knows it. We should know. Yet despite the fact that we should know it, we act as if we don’t. Or we act as if there is a middle way. Jesus asks God to sanctify them (set them apart) by the Truth (the ultimate, absolute God truth).
In the letter to Smyrna, Jesus opens up with, “…the one who was dead, and came to life…” This is to remind those who are suffering (the world hates them) that he (Jesus) has already died. Not only that, he came back. It’s an odd sort of assurance. He tells them they are rich, strongly implying that their riches are him (Jesus). The world can hate, jail, and even kill them, but that is not the end. At the end is the crown of life. Still, the Very Good Life is supposed to be our life lived now, not the afterlife. How can this be the Very Good Life? Again, that’s why it is so important to understand that the True Very Good Life starts with Jesus Christ.
1) Why do you think we can claim (and should claim) that we are living the Very Good Live, even in the midst of trial, pain, and loss?
2) Naming and Claiming the Very Good Life isn’t living the Very Good Life. How would you define living the Very Good Life?
3) Where can walking between the True Very Good Life (Jesus) and the Good Life (the world) work? Where does in not work?