“To life, to life, l’chaim! L’chaim, l’chaim, to life!”—the lyrics go around easily in the minds of many. Tevye raises his glass in a toast as the fiddler sits atop the roof and philosophizes musically about the blessing and bruising that this life brings.
Depending on our current perspective, life is our richest blessing or our most awful curse. Success in life can be the motive for our intense training and preparation of our children. For others with evil aspirations, life is something to pervert and corrupt. Yet others seek to preserve and extend life forever. Life—elusive to define, yet rich in meaning and potential beyond our limited imaginations.
This issue of Vision explores several facets of life’s complexities, from genetics and the peril and promise of biotechnology, to the responsibility inherent in educating our children. It includes a discussion of Alfred Kinsey’s impact on Western moral life, as well as the role of Jesus’ example and His teaching about the good news of life. Our authors talk about the words of life, the way to life and the future of life.
That in itself is not surprising, because the biblical perspective informs these articles, and the Bible could not be more concerned with life. God reveals Himself as the originator of life, who offered humanity the opportunity to feed in paradise from the tree of life—the source of wisdom and never-ending spiritual abundance. Yet the first inhabitants of that garden—a man and a woman who represent us all, tragically rejected the way to life. As a result, human existence became subject to perversion and corruption.
The journey back from that tragedy involves rediscovering the words of life. Paying attention to God’s teachings is a beginning.
In the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Pentateuch, there is much wisdom to be gleaned about the way back to life after Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the garden. Moses, having given the children of Israel the laws of God, told them: “Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe—all the words of this law. For it is not a futile thing for you, because it is your life, and by this word you shall prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to possess” (Deuteronomy 32:46–47).
The theme of law as it relates to life is consistently found in the teachings of Jesus. Asked by a wealthy young man about the most important priorities in life, Jesus answered: “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17). More broadly, the Gospel writer John quoted Jesus as saying: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). Life is embodied in the teachings of Christ.
Summarizing his own experience, another early follower of Jesus, the apostle Peter, emphasized at the end of his ministry that God’s “divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3).
The human journey from the garden of God to the kingdom of God is framed by the Bible’s beginning and end points—the books of Genesis and Revelation. Within these pages the panorama of human struggle and success unfolds—the story of Everyman. Central to human success is a correct perception of the path to true life as God intended, both in this age and in the age to come.