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"Life Is Too Short"

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It’s an irrefutable fact of life that many people live an epicurean lifestyle. The word “epicurean,” a derivation of the name of the Greek philosopher Epicurus, is used to describe a way of living that harmonizes with his teaching. Epicurus taught, in the 4th century BC, that pleasure was the ultimate goal of life, and material things the only way to attaining happiness. This school of thought is known today as Epicureanism.

So the mundane approach to existence isn’t new. It is often excused with expressed opinions such as, “Life is too short”. For the existentialists, whose lives are anchored in a worldview of the same kind, all that is worth seeking on earth is indulgence in pleasure and accumulation of riches. Some are in a rat race to buy a fifth car, others a third house, and still others the latest laptop while they anxiously wait to get the one that the computer manufacturer is yet to design. Jesus warned, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).


There is nothing wrong with desiring material possessions. What is problematic, though, is the inclination to focus exclusively on those things. When someone has in all their planning only material goods and how to acquire them, but no place for God, the One who makes all those provisions possible, there lies the problem.  The Holy Spirit revealed that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). But Mr Braggadocio could fail to realise that God played a part in his success and brag about his automobile as “my car,” his home as “my house,” his wages as “my money.” God gives the strength to man to work, earn an income and purchase what he needs for living. The Psalmist sang, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him” (Psalm 28:7).


To rely on material possession for long-lasting happiness is to behave foolishly, because a car or a house is like a snowflake; one moment it’s here and the next it’s no more. A luxurious Bentley car can for a split second be reduced to a wreck in a road accident, just like a house is susceptible of being razed to the ground in a matter of minutes by a tornado.


One of the manifestations in our era of the love of pleasure is the craze for entertainment. Our culture is increasingly becoming a culture of entertainment. To understand the gravity of the change, one needs to consider that, for instance, the impact of computer games on teenagers and adolescents has become a subject of research interest for academics. Some of them are looking into the correlation between console games and obesity in the population of youngsters.


The question then arises, why do people have such attitude towards life? Mostly because they are either ignorant or dismissive of the truth that there is more to a human being than the body – there is also in humans a spirit, the seat of true love, joy and peace (Galatians 5:22). Yet this is the emphasis of the gospel, which has now been preached for two millennia. In most cases, people strive to grab all they can out of life on earth in an effort to reinforce or carve in their minds, consciously or not, the idea that only the here and now matters. For we have the ability to empirically experience and know this present reality. Thoughts concerning the afterlife are thus viewed by those folks as mere speculation and fantasy.


On those points, the gospel stands in stark contrast with Epicureanism. The Lord Jesus’ teaching reveals the transient nature of the physical life while it emphasizes the wonderful idea that there is life after death. Before Jesus died, following His crucifixion, and rose again from the dead, He made a promise to His apostles in these terms, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3). There is a place called heaven, which is spiritual in nature, where faithful disciples of Christ will be and live when life on earth is over. In that location will be prepared by Jesus a “mansion” for each one of His “friends” (John 15:14). So, there is a glorious life that awaits Christians. Furthermore, while we wait for it, the time spent during our sojourn here on earth can potentially be “abundant” (John 10:10). Those who submit to Christ, adhere to His teachings and abide by them, the Lord’s counsel helping them to enjoy a good and rewarding life, in contrast to the foolish and degrading one that the Romans lived in the first century (Romans 1:22-32).


Life on earth is too short indeed. For this reason we all need to come to God and receive the gift of eternal life that He gives only through Christ (John 3:16). Will you come?


Constant Coulibaly

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