Why You Can Live Free from the Burden of YOLO, “You Only Live Once”

Fallen leafMany people believe this life is all there is. Their philosophy? “You only go around once on this earth, so grab for whatever you can.”

If you’re a child of God, you do not just “go around once” on Earth. You don’t get just one earthly life. You get another—one far better and without end. You’ll inhabit the New Earth! You’ll live with the God you cherish and the people you love as an undying person on an undying Earth. Those who reject God and go to Hell are the ones who go around only once on this earth.

Consider the expression YOLO: “you only live once.” It rightly recognizes you will die, but assumes that you will never live again after you die. The Good News is radically different. Christ’s promise is not YOLO, but that those who believe in Him will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). The gospel has power that not only affects this life, but transcends it.

We use the term eternal life without thinking what it means. Life is an earthly existence in which we work, rest, play, and relate to each other in ways that include the cultivation and enjoyment of culture. Yet we have redefined eternal life to mean an off-Earth existence stripped of the defining properties of what we know life to be. Eternal life will be enjoying forever what life on Earth is at its finest moments, what it was intended to be. Since in Heaven we’ll finally experience life at its best, it would be more accurate to call our present existence the beforelife rather than what follows the afterlife.

The best is yet to come. We do not pass our peak in this life! Missed opportunities will be replaced by billions of new and better opportunities—all by God’s grace, and many granted us by God as rewards for our faithfulness now (He owes us nothing, but delights in rewarding his children for serving him). Don’t wait until you die to believe it! Believing it will change your life now. It will change how you think, how you view the people around you, and what you do with your time and money, which are really God’s.

God promises us eternal life as totally healthy, embodied people more capable of worship, friendship, love, discovery, work, play and relaxation than we have ever been.

I am convinced that the typical view of Heaven—eternity in a disembodied state—is not only completely contrary to the Bible but hides from our imaginations the far greater truth of Scripture, the far richer eternal destiny of redeemed life, relationships, culture and physical activity on the New Earth.

This is not our only chance at life on Earth. The doctrine of the New Earth clearly demonstrates that.

The promise of eternal life as resurrected people on the New Earth frees us from the fear that we’ll somehow miss out on enjoying experiences if we don’t experience them here and now. But an eternal perspective also helps us avoid wasting this present life God has given us.

The Apostle Peter writes, “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:11-13).

Just as nonchristians won’t have a second chance to go back and this time accept Christ, so we as Christians won’t have a second chance to go back and this time serve Him. Today may be our last opportunity to represent Christ to our neighbors and to the needy.

As missionary C.T. Studd put it, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Five minutes after we die we’ll know exactly how we should have lived. But then it will be too late to go back and change anything. God has given us his Word so we don’t have to wait until we die to know how we should have lived.

Let’s remember that we don’t just live once. But let’s also remember that we have a brief time to make an eternal impact in this fallen world for Christ… and all eternity to enjoy life in the presence of our King.


photo credit: Lauren Paulsen via photopin cc

Randy Alcorn, founder of EPM

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over fifty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries

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