What is life?

What is life? Is it merely a biological and chemical phenomenon, or is it something deeper? It is a question that, these days, people often fence-sit with. Both are taken as true. Yes, our life is a fact of biology and chemistry; but that doesn't mean that it can't have meaning, substance, or worth. Rather, for atheists or agnostics, it gives a freedom - being able to have a definition and a purpose without needing God. For Christians and other theists, it means not trying to ignore or dismiss science, but rather, realising that God works in these ways that are discovered by science. Science and religion do not have to be mutually exclusive.

And this idea is certainly not one to be argued against - the more that faith and science can come to see their overlap, the more we may grow to understand the incredible ways that God is working in our universe. Each day, we are making new discoveries about how this world works, and realising how much there is that we still don't understand. Each day, we find new wonders that show God's hand at work in this world.

One thing that should be questioned, however, is this - is life really about biology? Well, it depends rather a lot on how we wish to define life. If we are talking about the simple fact that you and I are alive rather than dead - or, indeed, can actually be either alive or dead, rather than just being an object - then perhaps we are pertaining to simply biology or chemistry.
If, on the other hand, we are meaning something greater - if we are talking about not just something binary, but a process, a journey; then we need to reconsider our definition.

The Bible was written originally (for the most part, in any way) in the languages of Hebrew and Greek. If we look to the Hebrew language, there is really just the one word for life, that stems into other words like it - chayah. It means, simply, live - the verb. This is helpful; but let us also look to the Greek. In the Greek, there are two words that we find, each stemming other words that have somewhat different meanings. The first is bíos, which is referring to our physical life, and how our life is spent. It is a noun. The other is záõ. (That should be a macron, not a tilde, but the font isn't letting me). It's a verb (we're seeing a pattern here), and basically means, "I live." It is about real life, true life, full life - the life that God promises us. Just as a point of interest; bios is used in the New Testament a grand total of ten times. Zao, on the other hand, is used 141 times.

Here is an example of each in the NT, to give some perspective.

"For everything in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (bios) - comes not from the Father but from the world." 1 John 2:16

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live (zao) through him." 1 John 4:9

The difference between these two passages is stark - and they are within two chapters of each other, from the same author! One speaks of a life of this world - one speaks of actually living, through the Son. Through Jesus.

Real life, true life - is not cells, chemical reactions, something that can be found under the microscope. Rather, it is something that has been given to us by God, through his son Jesus that came to this world to give us this incredible gift. It is about the doing, the action, not just the existence. It is living, not just life, or alive.

Before, I was looking for a word to describe something that was neither alive nor dead - I used there the word object, but the other word that came to mind was inanimate. And this is incredibly apt. When something is not moving, is not growing - it is not living. It is inanimate. Static. Without life. Real life, true life, is an action. It is done, not merely existing. It is in motion.

Is this how your life looks? Are you growing in who you are, or feeling like you are on a plateau? Are you moving forward, or just going around in circles, caught in an eddy? Are you committing to being challenged and changing who you are for the better, or just content with where you're at?
God calls us to live. To be challenged. To be changed, or even more, transformed. He doesn't want us to be merely drifting through life. He wants us to experience life as it was meant to be lived. Life to the full. Is that what you want?

If this is something that stirs in your heart, then don't let it rest. Talk to someone. Do something radical - talk to God! He likes that. But don't let another day go by without seeking out the life that you were meant to live.

Do you want to come on this journey with me? Do you want to have more of a look at what really living is about, what it means? This is your invitation.