Insights

into the Meaning of Life

Two Views of Life: YOLO vs. YCLF

Roller coaster, illustrating the
Roller coaster, illustrating the “you only live once” motto.
If you only live once, you might as well do whatever you want. But is it possible to enjoy this life abundantly and still live for a brighter tomorrow?

YOLO: “You Only Live Once.” Maybe you’ve used this phrase to justify eating Nutella out of the jar or riding a roller coaster with 15 loops or doing jumping jacks in footie pajamas on the street. YOLO is the motto of the self-proclaimed young and reckless, many of whom use it to justify much more irresponsible and foolish things than these.

But is YOLO true? Is it a proper motto for a Christian? And what does God think of all the things this view of life serves to excuse? Where do we draw the line between living a fulfilling life and doing everything we feel like doing at the moment we feel like doing it?

Life more abundantly

Henry David Thoreau claimed to want to “suck out all the marrow of life.” In a way, that’s what Christ wants for us—not the footie pajamas, but for us to live life to its fullest extent. In a parable comparing Himself to a shepherd willing to die to save the lives of his sheep, Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Jesus Christ gave His life, the only sinless human life to ever be lived, so that if we repent and seek to obey Him, we may escape the full penalty of our past sins—eternal death. We all still must die once (Hebrews 9:27), but because of Christ’s sacrifice, we have the opportunity for grace—the gift of a new life (Romans 6:23).

According to Adam Clarke’s commentary, the word translated “abundantly” means “more abundant life; that is, eternal life; or spiritual blessings much greater than had ever yet been communicated to man, preparing for a glorious immortality.”

Jesus became our sacrifice so that we could have not only abundance in this life—a personal relationship with God, repentance, His Holy Spirit, grace, peace and true godly love—but an incredibly abundant life made up of an infinite number of days in the life to come (John 11:25-26)!

Is this all there is?

Whoever first said “You Only Live Once” was sorely mistaken. It’s a completely invalid statement, but it’s what a large portion of the world seems to believe. If this life is all there is, then anything we want to do or say is justifiable. If this life is all there is, then all we have to worry about is our happiness. The steps we take to achieve the momentary pleasures of this life are inconsequential.

But this life isn’t all there is, and so our actions are of great consequence.

Training ground for eternity

It’s fine to live life to the fullest. God expects us to use the gifts He has given us to live joyful and meaningful lives! But this life is not our only life; it’s merely a training ground for eternity.

When you’re in the middle of preparing for the most important goal ever, you can’t expect to build the character, learn the lessons and gain the skills you need if you ignore the goal. God “desires all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4) and doesn’t want us to only live once. He’s inviting us to live again—and this time forever as a part of His holy family!

Message to the young and the reckless

Wise King Solomon wrote to the young and reckless, “Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; but know that for all these God will bring you into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity.

“Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’” (Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:1).

We will all get old; and unless God’s Kingdom comes first, we will all die. Until then, we have to remember why we’re really here. Why would you choose “You Only Live Once” when “You Could Live Forever”?

For more about these subjects, explore the “Life” section of this website.

Erica Bennett is a student at the University of Cincinnati and is a member of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.