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Defining Life

Defining "Life"

I read an interesting article by Seth Borenstein, of Associated Press, written around 2007, seeking to define life from a scientific point of view. Nowadays, while NASA seeks to find it on other planets, geneticists seek to manipulate it, and other scientists even seek to "create" a "wet artificial life" in this decade. While "playing God" is nothing new under the sun, the author made me chuckle as he wrote the phrase, "Look for changes in religion, too", and quoted the philosophy professor Mark Bedau from Reed College in Oregon, who said, "Playing God is a good thing to do as long as you're doing it responsibly".

How can this be done "responsibly" without a definition of what "life" is? It is interesting to see how so many who use the phrase "playing God" don't even believe in Him! The understanding over the centuries from a Judeo-Christian point of view (and many others) is that life is a precious gift from God, a period of time allotted to us on earth to honor Him and do His will.

Yet we are living in unprecedented times, where life is extracted from the womb in the name of "freedom", "rights", and convenience, almost equaling the number of deaths from cancer, heart disease, and accidents combined in the US. (NPLA) Millions of lives are displaced and hundreds of thousands of lives are killed by radical extremists. Thousands of young people who are raised to consider themselves the center of their world struggle to find meaning and purpose for their lives.

Does this issue on the meaning of life even need to be that complex? Could returning to the Bible's definition of life solve many of society's ills (if not all) after abandoning God in their lives? Proverbs 4:13 says, "Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life." What could be so important about aligning our values to scripture to the point that it becomes your life??

Genesis 1:27 gives us this perspective: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them". Could our very value, worth, meaning and purpose be wrapped up in being made in His likeness and made by Him??

Job humbly accepted his place before an Almighty God, when the loss of life occurred in his family by stating, "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." (Job 1:21) Could it not be the case that the Creator of Life has the perfect authority to do whatever He wants with it, just like I can freely change or destroy my own creations??

James, the brother of Jesus wrote in James 4:14, "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." Could the fact of the brevity of this life in the light of eternity impact how we are to live now??

The apostle Paul, wisely recognizes: "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead" and continues in Colossians 3:4, declares: "When Christ, who IS your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." Could it be that our meaning AND eternity is wrapped up in the significance of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection??

As Jesus Himself answered: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. (John 11:25-26)

In the early days of Christianity, it was well documented that Christians would take in unwanted babies that were thrown out into the streets by the Romans to die of exposure. The primary reason for this loving action by the Christians was based upon a new understanding of life given by the Son of God, who gave His life in sacrifice for us. Jesus got what He didn't deserve to give us what we do not deserve. This mercy and grace defines this life and the next!

Defining the scientific aspects of life are categorically answering a different type of question, which need not conflict with any truths or claims found in the Word of God, just as answering the question, "Why is the water boiling", could include the description of its molecular structure, or the simple statement, "I am making a cup of tea"! Infinitely more important is in answering the spiritual implications of why you and I are alive right now.

I would love to continue that discussion with you.

Pastor Jason

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