Living the Authentic Life
By Ray C. Stedman
Note: Ray Stedman studies are used with permission from the author.
Probably at one time or another all of us have been somewhere or have been doing something that made us feel like saying, “Now this is real living!” What makes us feel like we are experiencing real life one moment and yet at another time life seems so complicated and even burdensome? What is life? Actually, a more important question to ask is, “What makes life worth living?”
Does experiencing real life mean that I must obtain or achieve something, or maybe even go somewhere to find it? For many, life is just that! They are trying to “get it” or “go find it,” and yet the Lord gives us a very different view of real life. In the next few “Weekly Briefings,” we will talk about the REAL AUTHENTIC LIFE God has for us. Understanding this will mean the difference between life as an existence and life as an adventure with God.
Let us first consider for a moment the way life typically goes in this world. You have seen a newborn baby that receives so much attention and many comments about how adorable he or she is. As we look at this new life, we know that it is helpless, dependent, and delicate. But in18 years what happens? This child perhaps could grow up to be defensive, independent and arrogant. If so, what happened to the life of this child? They are basically breathing the same, sleeping, and eating a little more, maybe. So what changed in the life of this person, and how and why did it change?
The bible uses three different Greek words to define and describe life. I will mention all three, but in this briefing we will focus on only two of the three. The first word is psuchay, which is where we get our word psyche or psychology. It speaks of our personal awareness of life, our being a self-conscious individual. Some religions tell us our life is a part of an all pervasive impersonal god or force in the universe. Christianity, on the other hand, tells us that we are made in the image of God, but yet are unique individuals.
The next two words are the ones on which we will focus our attention. The words are “bios” and “zoa.” They are also used in the bible. The word “bios” is where we get our word biology, meaning the study of life. When the scripture uses the word bios it does so to describe our physical life and its limitations. Then we have the word “zoa,” used in general to define the quality and meaning of life that is eternal. Let us look at how the Bible compares these two words.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “ZOA” AND “BIOS” LIFE
-Our own physical life that that will come to an end
-Life with diminishing resources
-Life that has needs (i.e. food, drink, rest)
-Life with desires that turn to lust of flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life.
-Life reproduced in the flesh (1Cor. 15:45)
-Quality and meaning of life not your own that is spiritual and does not end
-Life everlasting with sustained resources
-Life that gives joy and peace and enables us
-Life that is gained by denying self and sharing what God’s provided
-Life given through Christ (1 John 5:11)
Gratifying our desires is what the world tells us to do to find life. Of course, the world encourages us to invest in our bios life, and then tells us that it can provide the things that will satisfy it. But these things are temporary and dissolving and, at best, only satisfy for a moment. The bible tell us that the world is offering to people things to help gratify the bios life, but the enjoyment of life is not found in things that are passing away. Listen to a few scriptures:
“For life is more than food, and the body than clothing.” (Luke 12:23)
“Be aware of every form of greed for not even in the abundance of things does life consist of possessions.” (Luke 12:15)
According to God’s word, the things the world offers to experience real life will not last nor can they bring lasting satisfaction. The result of pursuing such things will only lead a person to crave more of the same. Now, many of these things themselves are not evil or wrong. However, they are used in place of God (our creator and provider) to gain life.
Christianity never tells us that “bios” life is evil or wrong. What it tells us is that this life is passing and temporary and originally it was created by God and said to be good. However, when sin entered the world and was passed down through each individual, our bios life has been greatly affected.
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life (bios), is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts.” (1John 2:16-17)
God tell us that real life is found in a relationship with Him, and this starts by our receiving real “zoa” life through receiving Jesus Christ. We are told in 1 John 5:11-12, “God has given us eternal life (zoa) and this life is in His son, He who has the son has life.”
Jesus tells us that He came that we might have life more abundantly (John 10:10). Real life is something we can experience every day in all circumstances. It was the Apostle Paul that presented a contrast of either fixing our hope on the uncertain things of this world or taking hold of life “zoa” indeed. When we learn to grasp the life that God gives us freely through Jesus Christ, we then can experience enjoyment even of the temporary things that God gives us.
People spend thousand of hours and a lot of money for this “bios” life …working out in gyms, getting beauty care, consuming health foods and collecting things needed to sustain the bios life. The world wants us to believe that real life is found by investing in “bios” life, and it is not! What life are you taking hold of? “Bios” or “Zoa”?
“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy (18) … to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, (19) storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” (1Timothy 6:17-19)