You Only Live Once?
One of the ways you can gauge a culture is to see what truisms they use. The proverbs and sayings of a people both preserve what people think is wisdom from throughout the ages, and the ones that get used the most can be used to show what nuggets of advice people are giving each other. It is very important to evaluate the cultural things you are steeped in, to see if they are conveying the worldview you believe in, or if you are subtly undermining the things you claim to believe by what you tell yourself and others about your life.
One of the sayings that I plan to cut out of my thinking and vocabulary is the phrase “You only live once”. It seems harmless enough. We typically use it when trying something new that seems out of character, dangerous, or embarrassing. After all, the thinking is that we only live one time, so we may as well make the most of it.
First off, this saying is conveying something of our naturalistic culture. When we communicate that we only live once, so we should do such and such and not avoid it, we are communicating that we believe that this life is all there is. There is nothing beyond this life, or at least, there is nothing beyond this life that is going to be any fun, so why not go for it now?
This sentiment is utterly unbiblical. As believers, we DO live more than once – at the end of the age, we will be resurrected into new bodies that will inhabit a new earth. Everything the Bible indicates about the new earth is that it is going to be an earth, and that we will have a life on that earth. In other words, we live more than once. Not only that, but the next life is one without an end! We will have an eternity to experience thrills that we never dreamt of in this life. This thought that we should get in all the living we can now before this life ends is a lie – we have an eternity after this life to live!
Of course, this doesn’t mean we should just spend this life waiting around for the next one. God has many things for us to experience in this life as well. However, to state that this life is all we have, so we had better live it to the fullest is not a biblical thought to convey, and as Christians, we should not express this sentiment, for we know there is another life worth living that is coming to us.