I have encountered many times in the last several years the attitude of “Life is short…why be good”. Generally speaking when this is directed at me it is because the person is aware of my faith. One of the reasons I have such a hard time with this is that I know there is nothing I can say to allow them to feel what I feel or convey the awe of experiencing God’s presence. That can only come by their seeking Him in an effort to personally experience Him and a relationship with Him.
One of the obstacles of this debate is the way nonbelievers view Christians and the way they live their lives. The preconception that they just follow rules and keep up the appearance of being good. I will be the first to admit that this view is true in some cases, as when I was a child I remember being dropped off at church every Sunday because it was the right thing to do, and beyond that there was no mention of Christ in my childhood. So I definitely understand the view that Christians go to church on Sunday mornings to appear good. It does happen. But on the flip side, are you then prejudging all Christians? Are you subconsciously saying that it is not possible to have a personal relationship with Christ because you have seen others just go through the motions? I know I did.
As soon as I was old enough to recognize the charade I wanted out and managed it. After all, if it was just a matter of believing then I could do that without keeping up appearances and playing the game. It was my incorrect, sinful response to an unfortunate situation. I have the advantage now of seeing both sides of the argument and understanding why others, who have not experienced Christ, deny it’s possible. I did.
After exiting the game of charades with distaste, I lived most of my life how I wanted. After all life is short, right? I believed I was a “good” person. A moral person.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “In reality, moral rules are directions for running the human machine. Every moral rule is there to prevent a breakdown, or a strain, or a friction, in the running of that machine…When you are being taught how to use any machine, the instructor keeps on saying, ‘No, don’t do it like that,’ because, of course, there are all sorts of things that look all right and seem to you the natural way of treating the machine, but do not really work.”
That’s exactly where I was. Nothing that I thought would make me happy actually did. And I know what my response used to be, in my head, when someone would talk about God speaking to them or showing them something. It was never of belief. I get it.
But if doing things my way wasn’t making me happy then doesn’t that shoot down the theory of “Life is short, too short to be good.” So wouldn’t it also suffice to say “Life is too short to be unhappy”? When you are alone, just sitting and thinking, are you happy? Content? At peace? If not, how is that lifestyle working for you?
“Do not be conformed to this but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
I honestly never knew those emotions before truly allowing Christ in my life. And really they fall short, as it is not just happiness but joy, not just content but fulfilled and peace that surpasses all understanding.
“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:16-19
Life is too short to not feel this way. I wouldn’t be able to walk away from this, nor would I want to. I have also since learned that my sense of church was completely wrong, as there are vital and thriving churches out there that truly worship Him and teach and equip the body of believers. Christianity isn’t a legalist form of earning heaven by following rules- it is a personal relationship with Christ which involves trusting Him and welcoming Him to transform you. You see, the Christians that you may be prejudging as just keeping up appearances and “being good” may actually be Christians that have been completely transformed and are doing things that are considered as “good” because it makes them happy. That they have experienced God-given joy from doing His work and want to just keep doing it. I assure you He knows what will make you happy better than you do. I dare you to hand over control to Him and accept the joy He will give you in return.