Summary: Jesus gives us the power to live and a reason to live. He gives us a life that is about something. He gives us the ride of our lives.
Ride of Your Life
17 If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile.
18 You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold,
19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.
20 He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake.
21 Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.
Years ago, I had an acquaintance whose life revolved around his car. He kept his car spotless, inside and out, including the engine. He was always doing something to his car—washing it, waxing it, tinkering with the engine. And he drove it. For him, to drive a car was the ultimate privilege in life. You did not just drive a car to get somewhere. You drove to be seen driving. After he drove the car around town, and was properly admired, at least in his own mind, he would return home, park the car, and wipe it down. That car pretty much defined his lifestyle—which is to say that he invested most of his money, time, energy, and enthusiasm into that vehicle.
Other people have lifestyles that revolve around something else. For example, sports. Did you hear about the two men playing golf. A funeral procession is going by. The first man turns to face the procession, takes his hat off and stands at solemn attention until the hearse has passed. Then he turns back to his putt. The other man said, “That was nice of you to honor the dead that way.” The first man said, “It was the least I could do. She was a good wife.”
That man’s lifestyle, we surmise, was mainly about golf. But we could tell the same kind of joke about many other sports and hobbies. How much of your energy have you given to perfecting your sport-skills, finding the right equipment, locating a place to play, and commuting back and forth to it?
Or, do you count success in your career as the definition of your personal success? How many evenings, weekends and holidays have you given over to advancing your career? How many times have you stayed late at the office? How many birthdays, anniversaries or vacations have you missed in order to get some more work done?
We all choose to invest in some sort of lifestyle. Only the degree of investment and choice of lifestyle varies. The question is: What sort of lifestyle should a believer in Christ have?
Steven Carter and Julia Sokol wrote a book with the rather long title: Lives Without Balance: When You’re Giving Everything You’ve Got and Still Not Getting What You Hoped For (New York: Villard Books, 1992). Carter and Sokol talk [on pages 105-145] about four different rides that symbolize lifestyle journeys. The four "rides" are a slide, a treadmill, a roller coaster, or an escalator.
First the slide. We are going down, we are out of control, and no light is at the end of the tunnel. We feel bitter. We tell ourselves we did everything we could. We invested in the system, and we were not rewarded as we think we should have been. This reminds me of a Frank and Ernest cartoon where a dispirited Frank says: "The boss said I was a cornerstone of this organization, and then I found out they were cutting corners."
Secondly, the treadmill. We are running as hard as we can just to stay in place. We are always exhausted but cannot quit for fear of losing ground. We worry that we will not be able to continue, but we never seem to get anywhere.
Third is the roller coaster. Carter and Sokol say, "Those whose day-to-day existence means living on a roller coaster are a special and different breed." (133). One minute they are high on life or work or God. The next minute they plunge down low. One minute they are "on top of the world." The next minute they are on skid row. Roller coaster people are gamblers who love the fast track. They also apparently love ulcers, migraines, and high blood pressure.
Fourth is the escalator. Despite success, these people cannot stop. They keep on upping the ante in their lives. They never feel financially comfortable -- no matter how much they have. They have no life outside of work. In both their time and their finances, they are leveraged to the hilt. Unlike those on the roller coaster, they just keep climbing and climbing as the pressure escalates, the work load increases, the debts skyrocket. They are driven to accomplish "something," but can never enjoy those things they accomplish.