Life, alive, living: chayim (Strong’s 2416)
Root: חָי (chet, yod) [Pronounced khah’-ee]
Forty-five years ago today I took my first breath on this planet. My mother’s womb was my first abode, the planet earth was my second… and so it is for every human. The Genesis account of human creation reads like this:
Then YHWH Elohim [God] formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [chayim]; and man became a living [chaya] being.
Here is what the Psalmist says about human gestation within the womb and God’s love of each individual that is created:
For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
when I was made in secret and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance,
and in Your Book were all written he days that were ordained for me,
when as yet there was not one of them.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
Our days are ordained and our life is written in the Book of Life (Psalm 69:28, Psalm 56:8, Psalm 139:16, Malachi 3:16-17), but what are we to do with this life we are given? What is the point of you? Are we just here to exist and then die?
James, in his letter, writes: What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. (James 4:14b). We are born to this planet and are here for a very brief time. We assume that once we are born, we live. But existence is not the same as living.
YHWH tells us we have to choose life:
Deuteronomy 30:15-16a, 17-18a, 19b-20a
YHWH: “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love YHWH your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply… But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish… So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving YHWH your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days…”
Biblically speaking, if you are not living in honour of God, seeking and listening and acting on His behalf, then you are not truly living.
Bless our God, O peoples and sound His praise abroad, He who keeps us in life and does not allow our feet to slip. For You have tried us, O God. You have refined us as silver is refined. He who pursues righteousness and lovingkindness finds life [chayim], righteousness, and glory.
So once we choose life there are two components to truly living. We are to pursue righteousness and pursue lovingkindness.
In our word lesson on righteousness we find that the key component of righteousness is seeking God out.
“But from there you will seek YHWH your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to YHWH your God and listen to His voice. For YHWH your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.”
Seeking God out is the first step in truly living. By authentically seeking God out, with all our heart and soul, we will find Him. Once we are in a relationship with the Creator we will experience a fullness of joy and our path of life will be revealed to us. For the Psalmist said, “The path of life, You will show me, is fullness of joy in Your presence” (Psalm 16:11a).
The path that YHWH has for us leads to the second aspect of “truly living”…
In our word lesson on chesed (lovingkindness) we learn that it can be defined as divine love in action.
In other words living is not about us. Our life is for others. We are on the planet not to satisfy ourselves, but to enrich the lives of those around us. So when you flippantly say, “My life sucks!,” how is that helping anyone around you? Because, honestly, it’s not about you… regardless of what our “me-culture” says.
Don’t be a culture zombie aimlessly trying to accumulate things and experiences and successes that match those around you, because this isn’t living. We need to stop having unrealistic expectations of what life should do for us. We need to ask what can we do for life.
Social media is particularly damaging. It has caused us to document our lives falsely. We are encouraged to highlight everything pretty and “perfect” in our lives, carefully posting things that make us look good or important or successful. At the same time we carefully hide things that make us look vulnerable or needy or less than perfect. This is not an accurate reflection of our lives. We are creating a false identity. Culture now indicates that truly living means being successful, and if our lives aren’t as rosy, or as action packed, or as morally idealistic, or as accomplished, then we are failing in life.
Life, as we understand it, is not always beautiful, folks… that’s the grit of it! But we are so much more than our failures. We can choose to take our vulnerable, needy, less than perfect souls and use them to enrich the lives of others! We are here to live fully, as the Creator wanted us to, and, evidently, that means serving, and living for, others.
He has told you, o mankind, what is good and what YHWH requires of you- to do justice and love lovingkindness, and humbly walk with your God.
The Creator requires this of His creation: be loving advocates for each other and have a relationship with your Maker.
RELATIONSHIP IS TRULY LIVING
Many people believe in God merely as insurance for their death. If you have faith in God simply to secure a spot in the afterlife, you are missing the point. Relationship is what we were created for- a relationship with God and with each other! The Tanakh (Old Testament) and the B’rit Chadashah (New Testament/Covenant) is not teaching us about how to prepare to die, it’s teaching us about how to truly live!!
The Bible, therefore, is a handbook on seeking God and being God’s love in action to everyone around us. Our life is to love and serve others. This is choosing life and living it to fullness.
How does Yeshua fit into all of this? Over and over he says that He is “the life”. If “life” is living God’s love in action then there is no better example of “life” than Yeshua HaMassiach (Jesus the Messiah).
YESHUA AS CHESED
Yeshua: As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Remain in My love…I have told you these things so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
Yeshua highlights the ultimate goal in life… to love one another. With that, your life will be joy-filled. Yeshua is the greatest example of chesed (love in action).
Also, the quote, Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends, has a dual meaning. Yeshua is pure love because he literally died for humanity. But the quote also has meaning for us. We don’t necessarily have to die for our friends, but we are called to set our lives apart for others… laying down our life and putting others before us. This is what living is all about.
YESHUA AS “THE LIFE”
Consistently Yeshua says He is The Life. He says He is “the bread of life” (John 6:35), and He is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25), and, perhaps His most well known quote, He is “the way, the truth, and the life”:
Yeshua: “You know the way to the place where I am going.”
“Lord,” said Thomas, “we do not know where You are going, so how can we know the way?”
Yeshua answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would know My Father as well.”
Yeshua, and His infinite knowledge of Scripture, pulled this word picture of truth and life from the prophet Jeremiah.
YHWH is the God of truth, He is the God of life, and King everlasting. [YHWH Elohim emet, hu Elohim chayim, umelek olam].
Ultimately Yeshua is saying that He is the truth, and He is the life, and that following His life is the way to the King everlasting.
Life: it’s not about what you’ve accumulated, or where you’ve been, or what you’ve accomplished for yourself… it’s about having a relationship with your Creator, and showing love to all of God’s creation- the plants, the animals, and most of all your fellow human beings. It’s that simple.
This little life of mine, on earth, began forty-five years ago much as it did for everyone else… with a deep breath. Help me, YHWH, to live and breathe for others and not for myself. For the path of my life was meant to follow this way, in truth, to the King everlasting.
Next week: Breath/Spirit