One Republic has a song on regular rotation on your local pop station these days. It’s called, “Good Life”. It is nothing to write home about, but it caught my attention this morning because a) it was the second time in 24 hours I had heard it, and b) it was positive despite not being played on positive, encouraging, KLOVE.
The song is written from the point of view of a filthy rich rock star who tours the world and can do whatever he wants whenever he wants. And he considers that “the good life” because, “please tell me what there is to complain about.”
As I pondered this particular definition of “the good life”, I had two thoughts.
First off, he’s not gonna be a rock star forever. Eventually, you stop writing music people like (unless you are Bono, in which case you can sing the phone book and it will go platinum (Did I really just reference the phone book? What’s that? I think I have one sitting next to my cassette player in the attic…)). And when that happens, the tours stop. The limitless living stops. You are forced into retirement, settling down, and living like a regular person.
When that happens for One Republic, they’ll no longer be living “the good life”, by their definition. Will they change their definition then? Or will they resign themselves to living “the ho-hum life” the rest of their days?
My other reaction to the song is that it is highly deceptive. While the rock star life appears glamorous from where you and I are sitting, we all know it has its drawbacks. And this song doesn’t address any of them. There is no line in there about how fast living has literally killed hundreds of rock stars and left thousands more in physical, emotional, and spiritual shambles. There is no lyric about how their marriages and families have shattered while they’ve been touring the world. This song doesn’t address how lonely living on the road can be and all the poor choices that loneliness can tempt you to make. The fallout of “the good life” is totally left out of this song…
Now, I’m not here to rip on rock stars. For all I know, One Republic was just trying to write a catchy little tune that would be fun for their listeners to sing along to (while they go about their ordinary days, dropping kids off at school, driving to the grocery store, and scrubbing toilets… I am so confused… WHO IS THIS SONG FOR?! )
But the song got me thinking. What is my definition of “the good life”? I clearly don’t think One Republic has defined it well… So how do I define it?
Actually, that doesn’t matter at all. Who cares what I think? Probably just me.
The infinitely more important question is how does God describe “the good life”?
Isaiah 48:17 says, “This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.'”
What I gather from this verse is that whatever God says is best for us is best for us.
We may not always feel like that is true. God tells us to do and believe a lot of tough things. And our obedience can often be quite painful and costly. But once we get through a season of hardship, we can look back and see that God was right – the results of our obedience were best for us.
In John 15:10-11, Jesus says, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love…I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
“Complete joy.” That sounds like a definition of “the good life.”
“Complete joy” doesn’t come from being famous or wealthy or loving our jobs or having beautiful families or being free to do whatever we want whenever we want with (seemingly) no consequences. It can only come from remaining in Christ’s love by way of our obeying Him. When we obey Him, Jesus‘ joy is supernaturally imposed into our souls, completing our joy. Without Jesus, our joy can’t be complete. In other words, without Christ, “the good life” is impossible. But with Christ, “the good life” is fully accessible, and the definition of it never changes.
Are we willing to obey Jesus in order to live “the good life”? It is ours for the taking.