A Christian’s Life Is not in Vain


There is an abundance of talk in our day from Christians about us “fulfilling our destiny.” That is a buzz phrase used by certain groups, and its use tends to frustrate me. 

My destiny is already sealed. If you are a Christian, so is yours. God had us in mind and knew our end before we were born. Before there was a heaven and an earth. 

Consider Romans 8:28-29. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 

It is not my intention to get into a Calvinistic debate over the above 2 verses, but at the same time, it is challenging to explain what they mean other than God is omniscient, and He knows our “destiny.” And has known it since before there was an earth. 

This is not the point of this. Rather, the point is that it is so easy to get distracted, to chase spiritual rabbits through briars and down rabbit holes, to focus on something other than what is actually important. If you are out chasing your “destiny,” you are like the characters in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, who desperately wanted to obtain something they already possessed, but did not understand it. 

In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verses 12-19, we see Paul reasoning with the Corinthians about the resurrection. Remember the determining factors for salvation? We must believe that Jesus is God’s son, and that God raised Him from the dead. 

In verse 17, Paul wrote, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” 

Jesus dying on the cross for us, and then being raised from the dead settled the matter. That is our destiny. But if you do not understand that, you will find yourself on a program of works to obtain it. 

No one wants a faith that is vain. No one wants a life lived in vain. People find themselves searching for something. “It is just out there a little farther,” they reason. But they never get that little farther, for something else comes along, and it is just a little farther more. As in the movie National Treasure, the solving of one clue, or one key, simply leads to another. 

Are our lives something that needs to be worked out, being led by the Holy Spirit to sanctify us, to make us more like Christ? Certainly. However, that is a much different thing than “destiny.” 

Someone associated with a well-known church on the west coast has come up with the idea of marketing “destiny pants.” Apparently, wearing this clothing helps you reach your destiny. They are will designs, tightly-worn, and rather expensive. Still someone else gives readings using “destiny cards”, or tarot readings with a Christian spin. 

These are pop psychology at best, but really nothing more than new age/occultism. 

Paul’s reasoning was directed to some people who were believing there was no resurrection. They believed that what people did while alive on earth was all there was, so they preached being good people for the sake of enjoying life now, to obtain all they could. 

He concluded this section with, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” 

It is a necessity as a Christian to believe in the resurrection. We cannot be saved unless we believe it is true. Because of this, our lives should be spent in service to God, with the Holy Spirit’s help. Or as Paul called it, our calling. 

Perhaps that is what those who preach and teach on “destiny” refer, although the word “destiny” is not used in the Bible. If so, I believe it is an attempt to repackage, to re-sell, to re-design something, perhaps to make it more palpable. 

The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and our service to God and our going to heaven has always been the focal point of Christianity. Remember when the disciples returned to Jesus, rejoicing that they had authority even over the demons? Jesus told them not to rejoice in that, but to rejoice that their names were written in the book of life. 

Paul said that he preached Christ, and Him crucified. That is the gospel. 

There are certainly plenty of important ancillary subjects and topics to teach about from the Bible, but that is what they are. They support the teaching and preaching of the cross and the resurrection. 

Jesus died and took our place, and He was raised from the dead likewise so that we can be as well. These are the focal points of a Christian’s life if the life is not to be lived in vain. 


A leisurely trip through the Bible


For most of my adult life, I have made reading the Bible a part of my regimen.

The past 2 years I have read it completely through 4 times, and the New Testament more times than that. I have accomplished this by reading a set number of chapters per day. Reading 4 chapters per day, I can read the Bible through twice in a year.

For quite some time, I have been reading 5 chapters per day, usually one of the first things in the morning. It has simply become a habit, a good, commendable habit.

I do not use this preface to commend myself, or to brag. On the contrary, reading the Bible has done the opposite. Acts 20:32 says, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.”

I can testify that reading—and doing—the word of God has built me up. At the same time, it has helped tear “me” down, helping me to get rid of old ways, old thoughts, old desires, none of which have profited me previously.

Beginning reading this time, I decided to take a different approach. I love to take leisurely drives through the country, soaking in the atmosphere and the scenery and the people. That is the approach I have taken through the Bible this time. While continuing my regular reading schedule, I have decided to lay aside any preconceived notions of what the Bible says or means. I am merely taking it in as it passes.

Do not misunderstand. I am a serious Bible student. I want to discover things that have been hidden in plain sight to me, but without inventing new ideas or philosophies about what the Bible means.

I have to confess I am enjoying this approach, just as I love driving trips through the country, even though I may have seen the same things many times over.

I suppose as much as anything, the leisurely approach—which will undoubtedly go away after I complete this round—has taken self-imposed understanding of scripture off the board, and gotten it out of the way.

I remember, at ages 16 and 17, the very first time I read the Bible. It filled me with awe, with amazement. I had been raised fairly much as an unchurched child, except for one year when I was in the first grade and learned some Bible stories I have never forgotten.

I am being suffused with that same type of awe and amazement again. Sometimes I still say, “I do not understand this part,” just like when I was 16 years old, but I always follow it with, “but I am going to take it as truth, even if I cannot explain it or understand it.”

You may want to take a leisurely trip through the Bible as well, especially if you are an older, long-time Christian as I am. You likely will enjoy it.