Why not enjoy life now, do whatever I want and then pursue Jesus later…after I’ve had all my fun? This was the question we discussed last night at our high school group. It’s is a good question, one I thought about in high school and have since thought about as an adult. For most of us if we’re honest we’d admit that there are times when we see others “enjoying” life apart from God and we can’t help but think— why can’t I do that and then ask for forgiveness later?
But the question is usually asked when we’re not thinking about three things…
1. I am not in control of when I die.
God says in James 4:13-14
13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
No one has control over their tomorrow. We can make plans but ultimately our life is in God’s hands. My family became painfully aware of this truth last fall when my wife’s mother died unexpectedly of a brain aneurism. She was healthy, full of life, and we should have had many more years with her. But instead our lives were turned upside and we were forced to come to terms with a new reality.
Medical emergencies, car accidents, and even school shootings are everyday reminders that we are not in complete control of our mortality. So when we assume that we’ll have many tomorrows in order to turn our lives around we’re making a pretty foolish assumption.
2. God has good things for me to do now
Ephesians 2:10 says, For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
This is one of the greatest promises of God. If I have given my life to Jesus, then I can know that Jesus has prepared good things for me do. I can literally wake up every morning and say to God, “Would you lead me to the good things you have for me today”. My job, then, is simply to be faithful to where God’s leads me. The reason I pursue Jesus isn’t just to avoid negative consequences, but rather to enjoy watching God do good things through me.
3. In Jesus I have access to joy–all the time
This leads to the third truth, in Jesus there is joy—all the time.
Psalm 16:11- You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
In the presence of Jesus there is joy. Now what I didn’t know in high school was that this verse does not mean that Jesus will fill my life with joyful things. Instead it means, despite the suffering that may come from external circumstances, there is joy when I acknowledge the presence of Jesus over all my life and chose to praise Him–no matter the situation.
This is actually an amazing experiment to try sometime. Wait till you’re angry, frustrated, sad, depressed, anxious, or stressed out of your mind…and then start worshiping Jesus. Seriously. Start with the simple stuff, like “Jesus I thank you for giving me a mind, and thoughts, and the ability to think. Jesus I praise you for color and giving me eyes to see it. Jesus I praise for creating good flavors and the ability to enjoy food. Jesus I praise you for the trees outside that look like they are lifting their arms to worship you” …whatever comes to your mind. As you do this you will literally feel your heart soften, and the beginnings of joy enter in. It is this secret of life that led the Apostle Paul to exclaim, Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4), while suffering in prison. Jesus is worth pursing now, because He offers joy now.
Life maybe short and unpredictable, but in Jesus we know that there are good things planned for us and joy in His presence–now and forever.
When have you been tempted to ask, why can’t I sin now and then ask for forgiveness later? How have you experienced the joy of Jesus’ presence? What has motivated you to pursue Jesus?