I want to say, first of all, that I realize that this entire post will sound like utter lunacy to readers who don't share my faith. I encourage you to read anyways, as I wrote this with the intent of giving a glimpse into the thought process behind the sometimes odd life choices that Christ followers may make.
The apostle Paul wrote, "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, then we are of all people most to be pitied" (1 Cor. 15:19). What he's saying here is that if Christians are wrong in our faith--if Christ was not indeed crucified and raised to life eternal--if there is no eternity waiting for us--then the rest of the world should feel great pity for us Christians because we have staked our entire earthly lives on the hope and faith in an eternal life.
I believe he is entirely correct.
This point in theology is sometimes lost in recent times, particularly with the onset of what's called "prosperity gospel" and the pursuit of a really awesome earthly life, but in the earlier days of the Christian church, one can see this mindset dramatically at play, particularly in the lives of those early martyred Christians who were lit on fire or fed to lions--people who didn't mind having their lives painfully cut short because of the hope of eternity they held so dear. Later on, there was a movement of monks and nuns to take vows of poverty and live simple lives focused on worship of God and service to others--lives that no one would consider fun or awesome or "best" in any sense of the word. This lack of concern for living an especially awesome life during our 70 or so years on this earth has persisted in different forms throughout Christian history.
My faith is precisely the reason why I live the way I do. My entire lifestyle has been built around the conviction that this life isn't my best life--the conviction that there is a best life, but one that will only come in God's eternal kingdom, and not today, not on this world. If I am wrong, then then you should feel pity for me, because I have wasted the one short life available to me by not ambitiously pursuing the best at all times.
On a variety of occasions, I've been accused of lack of ambition. That's probably an accurate accusation. I haven't achieved post-graduate degrees, I haven't worked my way into a powerful career, and I haven't reached financial independence. I'm not highly motivated by the drive to better my life.
If I believed that my best life was now, I'd feel much more pressure to "make something" of myself. I wouldn't be okay with my status and wealth and the comfort level at which I live. I'd feel greater despair over all the cool experiences that I miss out on due to lack of time or funds or opportunity. If I was living my best life now, comfort and fun would be of greater importance to me.
Because I believe with all my heart that this isn't my best life, I'm not bothered by any need to seek out a beautiful home with coordinated furniture. If my best and only life were this one, my blemish-prone skin and the fact that I'll never be a movie star would bother me a lot more than they do. I'd be more concerned about the money in the bank and I'd stress about calculating Angel's retirement age and trying to figure out how to fit in the maximum number of adventures into these short lives of ours.
I'll be honest right now and say that if I believed this life was the best one, I'd be living in America--for me, since I'm an American, that's a more comfortable and more financially privileged life to live.
I love this life I've been given and am grateful for everything about it. I relish life and passionately experience every part of it. But I don't lie to myself and imagine it's my best. I actively choose not to pursue good things when they aren't part of the road I believe I've been asked to walk. I feel no rushed need to do and to have it all, because I believe there's eternity ahead.
Honestly, I see no "best" possible in this world wracked with tragedies. How could I be happiest pursuing what's best for me in this world of sickness and death and lack and millions upon millions of people who, through no fault of their own, will never see anything remotely resembling "the best"? This world, to put it simply, just isn't the best. But someday, I believe, there will be a world without any more tears, and that's where the best will be.
The fact is--whether you believe that your best life is now or whether you believe that your best life is the one still to come--whichever one you choose, that will highly impact the decisions you make on a daily basis. Because I believe in an eternal future, my life right now is centered around preparing my heart for that future--serving the God who I believe created me and loving the people he made.
This is my "why" for everything I do. I've got my eyes on my best life, but during this life, I'm not interested in best. I'm just interested in doing whatever's worth doing until I die, and then I believe the best will come.