The Christian outlook on most things in life is in radical contrast to the standards of our society. We are a radical nation under the headship of Jesus Christ, a radical himself. Our perspective and approach to life is taken from him and not the society or culture around us, no matter how much it changes. At least that is how it is suppose to be. However, you could interview a believer along side a non-believer and discover there are not that many differences. Most people have concerns about tomorrow, whether they will have enough money to retire, whether they will still have their job in a year, and matters of the same nature. As followers of Jesus Christ our point of view is suppose to be radically different. Notice I keep using that word, radical. It is because the two manners of thinking do not even come close to each other and this is what we keep coming across in James' epistle:
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." 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. (James 4:13-14)
Perhaps this is not something you have considered, especially if you are one of my young readers. Mortality does not seem to affect youth as much as it affects the elderly, yet people die from all ages all the time, every day. The fact is you do not know what tomorrow will hold for you. Chat with an earthquake victim or the people living along the Gulf Coast or how about the people in Nashville? It only takes a second for your life to be changed in unimaginable ways. Some things you can see coming and you have time to plan for but other things could never be planned for when they hit. It is not always a life and death situation that this is applied to, consider some other areas of your life as well.
Relationships are a major part of our life. They take two people and you are only responsible for your part of it. You cannot control the heart or mind of the other person so you only have the illusion of having control over it. If you are relying on relationships to be your strength and stability you could be in for a very quick change. People change, situations change, health changes, finances change, everything is based on shifting sand and like an earthquake it can all change in a few seconds. As Christians we should understand this but at the same time we are comforted and strengthened by the fact that Jesus never changes. The love of the Father is a constant in our lives and it is true that Jesus is all we need.
Our understanding is that each day we have is by the grace of God. Nothing is owed to us so everything we receive is a gift from our Father. Seeing life from this perspective takes away the sting of lose and promotes a heart of thanksgiving:
Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." (James 4:15)
Remembering that God is ultimately the decider of all things has a big impact on how we approach life and our plans. There is nothing wrong with making plans, setting aside money for retirement, planning vacations. The problem comes when we rely on those plans for our joy, satisfaction, and motivation. When the plans fall through so does our joy. We should have sufficient maturity so that nothing disturbs our joy and satisfaction because the source never changes. This is the reason Paul was able to tell the Philippians with great confidence that they needed to rejoice in everything. No secrets here to a great life and unending joy; trust the Lord Jesus Christ.