What Does it Mean to Really Live?

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. – John 1:4

In the first parts of the gospel of John, John writes about the uniqueness of Christ. He leaves us with no doubt to His divinity and His place in the creation of man. He shows us that Christ was ‘before all things,’ and that ‘in Him, all things consist.’ He then leaves us with an interesting verse. He says that ‘In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.’

When John says, “In Him was life,’ he, in effect, leaves out everyone else. In other words, Jesus possessed life in a way that no other human did. Jesus had ‘life in Himself,’ just as the Father did.

For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself.” – John 5:26

Both the Father and the Son, being One in essence, possessed this ‘life.’ What is it?

What is life, for that matter? What does it mean to be alive?

We tend to think of life as possessing breath. If something is breathing, it is alive. When something stops breathing, it is dead. With this idea in mind, we put the man who is at the pinnacle of human health in the same category as the man who is on a breathing machine in the hospital. Both are alive. Both are not dead.

But is it really fair to say that both of these men are really living? Being truly alive is more than breathing. There are many people who today are breathing, but not truly living.

Jesus came as the quintessential model of what it means to be alive. In Him was LIFE. That is, in Him was life to the highest degree — true life in its ultimate form. That life shined like a bright light for all to see what it meant to really live.

Don’t think of life and death as an on and off switch. Think of life and death as a great measuring stick. At the highest end of the measuring stick is Christ, at the lowest end is the lake of fire. In the middle is the dividing line. People may cross back and forth over the dividing line as they live, but when they physically die, the deal is sealed. Whatever state they abide in they will enter for eternity — each to their ultimate end (whether Christ or Second Death).

Most of us know this, but what many of us fail to think about is the plane of living that we abide in while we are still on this earth. There is a vast plane in the realms of both death and life. Those that are spiritually dead can yet experience death to a greater degree. And those that are spiritually alive can experience life to a greater degree. God and His angels seek to draw men deeper into spiritual life, showing them that fuller life that is in Jesus; whereas Satan and his demons seek to draw men deeper into death, seeking to plunge them into more vile and destructive sins. There is a fierce war in the heavenly places. The greatest victories are when men cross the dividing line, but great value is also placed on moving people further and further from it.

But what I want us most to understand from these thoughts is that only in Christ do we experience life to the full. The closer we are to Christ, the closer we are to what it truly means to live. Often, people are deceived into thinking that ‘really living’ is to indulge in the party life, unrestrained pleasure, and material gain. How often I’ve seen people leave their spouse and children and church for this very reason! They become convinced that being further from Christ is true life. They are badly mistaken. “In Him is life.” Time will be their worst enemy, for the more that it passes, the more they will see the emptiness and futility of this kind of ‘life.’

But those that belong to Jesus will go from ‘glory to glory.’ We are like the sun, shining ever brighter until the peak of day. We rise from ‘faith to faith,’ moving closer and closer to that perfection of life that is in Jesus. The closer we get, the more we long to shed this earthly tent and be clothed with our habitation on high. The closer we get, the less we enjoy this empty world. The closer we get, the more we desire to depart and be with Christ, ‘which is far better.’ The closer we get, the more we really live. “In Him is life.”

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