“What do you want out of life?” The trained interviewer appeared relaxed — even casual — as she asked me this question, but I could tell she was intent on figuring out who I was. In the context of interviewing for a summer job at a local department store during my break from college, that only meant that she wanted to ascertain my (then meager) work history, size up my personality and character, and decipher whether I had what it took to work in her department. The following day, she offered me a part-time job, but I turned it down when I got a better opportunity to work full-time at an electronics company. But the interviewer’s question hung in the back of my mind.
I recently talked with a somewhat-older woman who had drawn up a “bucket list” of what she wanted to do during her later years of life. I gathered from our conversation that her list included places she wanted to visit and fun activities she wanted to do. But nothing in our conversation suggested that Christ was at the center of her bucket list — or even anywhere in the bucket, for that matter. That conversation has been hanging in my mind recently.
What is life? Paul’s response to that question is obvious in Colossians 3:4: “When Christ appears — your life — then also you with him will appear in glory.” This is the literal order of the Greek sentence of the verse. Notice that Paul interrupts his thought about the return of Christ to accentuate the truth that Christ is your life.
When Paul contemplated the real possibility that his detention in Rome might end in death, he wrote: “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21). We often miss the important first bit of this verse because we get fixated on the second bit, the part about going to heaven after death. But we must not miss what comes before. Paul’s first words are “for to me” — indicating the personal nature of what comes next — followed by the words “to live…Christ” or translated differently “living…Christ.” Paul’s sole reason for existence, he boldly declares, is Christ!
Such a Christ-focused existence is not esoteric; it impacts daily life. Paul off-handedly reminds the Corinthian believers of “my ways in Christ” (1 Cor 4:17). He encourages the Colossians to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus — and makes sure they know that “everything” includes their speech and actions: “whether in word or deed” (Col 3:17).
What do you want out of life? Now I’m repeating the question asked me during my department store interview. Or perhaps I should ask you, from my other conversation, what is on your bucket list?
How about a bucket list of one life-defining item? I want to live my life entirely for Christ. Put that on a piece of paper and drop it into your bucket! Better, get a permanent marker and write “For to me to live is Christ” in bold letters on the outside of the bucket! Then, don’t put anything into your bucket unless you know how it connects to your central life purpose of living life in, through, and for Christ.
Setting aside time to consider how other activities fit with your central life purpose will require prayer, reflection on the Word of God, and counsel from other Christ-centered Christians. But such time will be well-spent. Life is Christ, and everything else is secondary for those who are in Christ.
This post was adapted from chapter 66 of my book: How to Live an ‘In Christ’ Life: 100 Devotional Readings on Union with Christ.